In last week's column, I went back to my teenage years and talked about my record player and how much it meant to me. The music, that is.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
In last week's column, I went back to my teenage years and talked about my record player and how much it meant to me. The music, that is.
This week, I would like to talk to you about how I fell in love with sewing, needlework and quilting.
As a young girl when I was active in Girl Scouts, one of the advantages to doing badge work was learning to be diverse and take an interest in all kinds of things in and out of my comfort zone. I was very inspired by my scout leaders, and I have to admit I was a little competitive when it came to badge work LOL (I can't help myself). Somewhere, I still have my sash with all of my badges that show evidence of my dedication to improving and developing my knowledge in many things.
There was a sewing badge, and if I recall correctly, it was a difficult badge - very time-consuming. But, I was excited to learn how to sew, and my grandmother was very willing to work with me - as she was an experienced seamstress herself.
My grandmother was very patient with me as I learned how to work with a pattern and how to pin the pattern just so. She taught me how to cut out the patterns with finesse, and she also bought me my first pair of pinking shears. Furthermore, in no time, I was able to put together a beautiful sewing box - with everything I would ever need. It, like the record player, was a prized possession full of trinkets like thread, pins, cushion, thimble, stitch remover, measuring tape and more.
My grandmother and I worked very hard, and my first project was a tablecloth and matching napkins. It was a navy blue print material with lace edges. Eventually, though, it went by the wayside like the record player.
Later, there was home economics in high school, and Mrs. Daugherty taught all of us so many things. Sewing and cooking were my favorite topics, but sewing gave me a great sense of self satisfaction because I had something in my hands that I had made. I believe we made a pillow and a shirt, and I recall I made a peasant top - yellow print. I was so proud of the end result. To my dismay, Mrs. Daugherty gave me a "B" on it because she was not impressed by my lack of ironing the seams to her satisfaction.
At home, between the ages of 15 to 17,  I continued to learn more and more about sewing. We did not have a sewing machine, so my grandmother and I started on some other projects until a sewing machine came into the picture.
She taught me to crochet, and once I learned, I made my mom her first crocheted blanket out of a baby blue variegated yarn. I believe I used about 15 skeins of yarn, and for many, many years, Mom covered one of the chairs in the living room with this crocheted afghan. There were many times in my life since that very first afghan that I created many others, sometimes giving them as gifts.
Once I found the ease of crochet, I begged my grandmother to teach me more and more. She taught me embroidery, needlepoint, counted cross stitch, latch hook and quilting. Of all things I learned, I loved all of the stitches and the intricacy of embroidery. Thus, everyone soon had embroidered pillowcases LOL.
As much I loved embroidery, I wanted to get back to the sewing machine. One of my best friends in high school was Candy DeVore, and her mom graciously invited me to come over anytime I wanted to use her sewing machine. I was in heaven!!
Now I could go to GC Murphy's at Tri-Towns Plaza and start picking out material and patterns, and begin making my own clothes. In no time, I was honing my sewing skills and I moved into more complicated blouses, dresses and skirts.
It was so much fun to sit down at the sewing machine, thread it, change the bobbin, learn how to do buttonholes and buttons, ruffles, waistlines, hems and more. My favorite part was taking the pieces of fine tissue paper patterns and cutting them out and preparing for the laying out of material. Then, you had to lay the patterns out onto the material and pin them very carefully.
I remembered all of the things that Mrs. Daugherty taught me - especially the importance of ironing the seams. Carole DeVore allowed me so much time and opportunity to do something I loved, and I have never forgotten how kind and selfless she was. Aside from her allowing me to use her sewing machine, she also taught me to make Courtin' Fudge (which hundreds of people have enjoyed over the years that I have made it at home). She also invited me to dinner quite often, and she made a delicious Swiss steak and mashed potatoes dinner. Memories.
I soon graduated to making more elaborate pieces of clothing in the years to come. My sister Debbie was interested in pageants for a while, and I had the privilege of making several of her gowns.
For some reason, I decided to make my own wedding gown and if a bride doesn't have enough stress before the big event! But, I did it, and finished it at the last minute...thanks to Carole's encouragement and ability to calm me down.
Soon after I married, I decided it was time to purchase my own sewing machine. It was an exciting time for me to walk into a sewing machine company and choose my very own. Nothing real expensive, but something that was beautiful and practical.
I then began working on many different projects over the course of several years after the purchase. When I found out that I was going to have a baby, I spent hours cutting out many, many tiny two-inch squares of a rainbow of colors. And when I was ready to stitch the quilt together, oh, it was very tedious work.
This quilt, another prized possession in its simplicity and its tatters from numerous lovins' throughout the years, has covered both of my baby sons, and every single one of my four grandchildren.
As it would turn out, my sewing machine would only get about three years' use and then I would put it away forever - never too sew another thing.
My last "hurrah" all over that three-year-period included bridesmaids' dresses for my sister Jenny's wedding - all the same material design but different colors. Oh, and for my purple gown for her wedding, I made the biggest error while cutting out the pattern, and as it happened, there was little purple material left over. I tried on the bodice, and oops - big oops! - I could not squeeze my bosom into a bodice accidentally cut out in the wrong size!  Talk about panic with just two days before the wedding!!
Other projects before the end of my sewing era included more gowns for my sister Debbie, and a queen-size quilt for my Mom and Dad's 25th anniversary - made from pieces of my, my brother's and sisters' baby clothes. THAT was my most challenging sewing project...and my last. My days of making curtains and clothing had come to an end.
My interest had waned, and making clothes for my sons did not interest me in the least. I soon found other interests in clubs and extracurricular activities, and then turned my attention to counted cross stitch - which I had grown to love immensely. There was something special about taking a blank cross stitch canvas and making X's in various colors to create the design. You had to read a map, and then place the colors into the proper teeny tiny holes in the canvas.
There was one piece of art I created that took me 125 hours to be exact, and using 65 different colors of floss. It was a gift to the parents of Bill Hamilton, who was a firefighter with Tri-Towns Fire Department, Piedmont. Bill died unexpectedly at a young age, and I was very moved by his passing. The framed, counted cross stitch artwork was a picture of a firefighter's gear, with it being a completed size of 16" x 20". The feeling of giving was personal, extraordinary. It hangs at his mother's home to this day.
Do I miss my sewing machine? Absolutely. Do I miss all of the needlework? Yes, positively. Two carpal tunnel surgeries in 1988 and 2010 tell the story.
Like with the record player, the sewing machine and my special little sewing box - gone. Ava's Nanny Jane just bought a new sewing machine, and it brought back so many memories for me. And, I think to myself - could I even thread a sewing machine today? Is it like riding a bike? Who's to say. But, those days - those glorious days when my hands produced beautiful, lovely things - I will remember them always.