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The Woman: Who Inspired the Wanda Gown

Today we are contributing over at A Jennuine Life for their Lost Art of Sewing Series, head over there for all the technical stuff behind this project.

Lost Arts of Sewing at A Jennuine Life
Today I am just going to tell you about the woman who inspired the "Wanda Gown".

I really wanted to make Boston and Easter dress since I have not made a formal dress in almost a year,  I felt up to the challenge but all my patterns were 3 hours away in our storage unit. I asked my mom if she could send me some of hers. A few days later I received by media mail, 3 vintage patterns that she had borrowed from our home town neighbor, Wanda.

Wanda is a sweet lady that lives a couple miles down the dirt road from my parents. She is one of the warmest, most talented women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Her handwriting is like beautiful calligraphy, her food is awesome and her sewing is legendary. Her warmness penetrates the room and instantly makes the room comfortable.

She is in the same quilting group (a group of women who get together and tie quilts for newly married couples) as my Grandma Twila was. As a kid when we would go trick or treating she'd always have a grocery bag prepped for my family, filled with her delicious homemade popcorn balls (My Mom says she still sets some out for my parents, even though we are way beyond that stage).

Knowing and learning from women like her is one of the greatest rewards of growing up in a small town. When my grandfather passed away she and another golden woman brought us cinnamon rolls and a casserole, both were so appreciated and the tastes were certainly welcome.

Wanda and I share the love for fabrication, and she taught me my first invisible zipper.
Momma Shaffer is talented at sewing but is scared stiff by zippers, so often times when she was putting in a zipper for a special occasion and didn't have the time and/or patience it would go to Wanda. She would always return it with machine-like precision. For many of my 4-H projects, I went down to her house to get help with the zippers.  She was always so kind, patient, and comforting as I stressed about messing them up.  As I was stressing about the zipper for this project I remember sitting in her dining room and how her reassurance gave me calm.

Knowing that Wanda went through these three patterns having full faith that I could sew them gave me a real vote of confidence. I carefully looked them over and I decided on McCall 927, a dress pattern from the 1940's. There were times where I felt like I wanted to call this dress quits then I would remember that she told my mom that she knew I could handle the dress pattern.

The most amazing thing about one of my sewing foremothers is her talent is uplifting and encouraging. Is there some out there that you feel is a sewing foremother? If so tell me about her in the comments.


  1. The dress is lovely. I will leave a comment over at the series, too. You will long remember and treasure this dress. My godmother who is also my mother's sister is my biggest needlework mentor. She taught me how to embroider, knit, crochet, latch-hook, cross stitch, and needlepoint when she would come down to Florida from New Jersey for the Christmas holidays.

    1. Some day I hope to be able to be that sort of a mentor to a budding seamstress/crafter. I have a lot of things to learn and practice for that to happen. Thank you for sharing Karen!
      With Love,

  2. This warms my heart. The Halloween popcorn balls reminds me of our elderly neighbor growing up. She was a former school teacher in the town when my mother was growing up. And when I was a kid she bought eggs from our chickens. At Halloween she always gave us each an apple and popcorn. Of course they would sit in the bags until all the candy was eaten (we were kids afterall) and to this day the smell of a ripe apple or homemade popcorn just take me right back. I love these kind of special memories.
    Your dress turned out great and I'm so happy you shared it. Thanks for sparking a memory. :)


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