2022… F: A To Z April Challenge: Time Traveling… Favorite Dresses

I first thought of turning this topic of “Time Traveling” into a stand-alone blog post… presenting on Letter T… but I’ll keep you guessing on that one… for the most part, I’ll be re-posting twenty-six of my favorite posts out of the 746 written on genealogy, family memories, crafting, food, recipes, and occasionally a smidgen of Chit-Chat.

YooHoo… I’m super excited to be back with everyone in the “7th” April A to Z Challenge… and my theme is “Time-Traveling” through my blog – “Everyone Has a Family Story to Tell“. If you have stumbled upon this post and wondering about the challenge… The Blogging A to Z April Challenge is one month of every-day blogging through the alphabet. 26 days, 26 letters, 26 posts! Daily blogging is Monday through Saturday… leaving Sunday to rest, read other blogs, and prepare for the following week! From the first day in 2016 when I happened upon this challenge… I”m still just as excited… and always eager to begin! Who doesn’t love a good time travel of events… so where would you travel to?

Grab a coffee… as you follow me down the rabbit hole… Hippity Hop!

2022… F: A to Z April Challenge: Time Traveling… Favorite Dresses

First published Dec. 6, 2016

Family pic in color (800x717)

If I was lucky to enough to have this very dress I”m wearing, it surely would be a treasured heirloom, but I only have a photograph to remember it by!

My mother sewed this dress for me as she did all my clothes in growing up. She often sat up half the night , determined to finish once she started. I’m told she survived all night on black coffee and a cigarette; I awakened in the morning to find on a hanger, all pressed!

All my clothes were homemade until I was about twelve years old and begged for store bought – she said it broke her heart as she so enjoyed sewing my dresses. And not only did she sew the dresses, she also embroidered them. What patience and skills she had! I can understand how she wanted to stay up all night to finish, as when I knit for my grandchildren, I so wish I could finish right away… instead of weeks.

Even today, mama often mentions this specific dress and how proud of it she was… and wishing she had kept just this one. Most all my clothes were passed down to her girlfriend for her daughters, so at least they were used. I even have a photo of one of them in this same very dress.


My homemade Easter dress – I believe the purse was bought, but she may have made the hat… If only I hadn’t closed my eyes!

Jeanne Easter_0001

They took a retake – eyes open and smiling!

There wasn’t anything my mother couldn’t sew and all without bought patterns; she never liked having to follow directions. She made her own patterns on newspaper measuring against other clothes and cutting them as she wanted. And if she didn’t have material, she’d reuse what she did have. I think the reason I never saw my father’s “whites” from the Navy is because she wanted white slacks… need I saw more!

When mama took Home Ec in high school, she made a mess of the dress she sewed and had to model. She tried telling the teacher that she could sew it her own way, but the teacher insisted she follow directions. The dress came out hiked up on one side and the teacher made her model it anyway. Being the “scootch” my mother is, she modeled it swishing and swaying across the stage and the boys all hooted! Of course the teacher wasn’t happy with her performance but mama was mad at how the teacher wouldn’t listen to her… so she decided to model it her way! Once home her mother took the dress apart and redid it; grandmama sewed the same way – no pattern.

During my Barbie phase, mama became her seamstress. My girlfriends and I took turns going into mama,  pretending to order new clothes for Barbie. While we played… mama sewed – later we returned to pick up Barbie’s new clothes.

While living in Perry, she fell in love with the jumpsuits the Air Force guys wore; there were no patterns for them to fit women at the time. Mama took a shirt and pants pattern of hers, meshing them together to create her own jumpsuit. I think she made herself one in every color pattern of fabric she had, wearing  them for a long time. Several women asked mama where she bought them, as they all wanted one; she’d laugh saying “they can’t be bought.” Now she says, “if I was smart, I would have patented that pattern.

Later when she and daddy took square dance lessons, mama sewed herself several of those fancy square dance outfits with a shirt for daddy to match each one. Recently she told me how she sat up all night sewing hundreds and hundreds of tiny sequins all over those skirts. If you’ve ever sewed sequins, you know she must have had very sore fingers by morning. I do remember seeing her and daddy all dressed up in those matching outfits, and I often tagged along to watch; they let me dance on the “Last Call” dance of the night.

Even though I have no actual “heirloom” – I have many “heirloom memories” that I’ve preserved here with my story.

When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, they often become items tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and memories so your treasures aren’t tossed in the trash. They are just as valuable as your family photographs and also need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question; it’s the story which holds the value.

I started a Family Heirloom challenge in November 2015 asking fellow bloggers to join me in telling the stories of their family heirlooms. Writing the stories of the family heirlooms I’ve been entrusted with, has been on my mind for a long time; the time is now and I plan to write their stories on a weekly basis.

Please check out the weekly Family Heirloom stories of…

Blogger: Cathy Meder-Dempsey at Opening Doors in Brick Walls
Blogger: Karen Biesfeld at Vorfahrensucher
Blogger: Kendra Schmidt at trekthrutime
Blogger: Linda Stufflebean at Empty Branches on the Family Tree
Blogger:  Schalene Jennings Dagutis at Tangled Roots and Trees
Blogger: True Lewis at Notes to Myself
Blogger: Vera Marie Badertscher at Ancestors in Aprons
Blogger: Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme for 2015 Week 24 was Heirlooms. Check out her Blog at –  52 Ancestors Challenge 2015: Week 24 Recap  for links to more Heirloom posts.

Click Friday Night Family Heirlooms to  read more stories…

© 2022, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved


Previous Years A to Z April Challenges…

2016: A to Z Southern Foods and Memories… they said write what you know… and being a girl born in the South… well this was what I knew.
2017: A to Z Conversations with Mama… it was a somewhat easy one for me to write as I’d journaled our conversations for years… I researched favorite topics to write.
2018: A to Z All About Nancy Drew… this one has been my favorite topic so far, and I don’t know if I’ll ever come up with another one to equal it
2019: A to Z Italian Famiglia Foods and Memories… I felt it was time to finally write the favorites of my husbands family foods.
2020: A to Z Family Stories… writing the stories of my husband’s family.
2021: A to Z of Mama in Photos... blogging on my mother through photos and memories.


About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2022: A to Z April Challenge... Time Traveling, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to 2022… F: A To Z April Challenge: Time Traveling… Favorite Dresses

  1. cassmob says:

    I love the idea of “heirloom memories”…those family stories, memories and excitement that risk being lost. I guess that’s part of what I’m hoping for with my current A to Z.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. S. says:

    Children are so funny, aren’t they? Your mum had these amazing dressmaking skills and you wanted off-the-rack. My mother was an amazing cook and I wanted canned meatballs 🤣. Great A-Z theme!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. afshan18 says:

    So nice of u to recollect heir loom memories

    Ur mom is amazing..so much efforts to make dresses…even my mom stitched for me exactly till i was 12 too. It’s wonderful you are recording those memories

    Dropping by from http://afshan-shaik.blogspot.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My late best friend’s older sister (we grew up in New York City) was able to sew from an early age without patterns. She was designing her own clothes as a high school student and would whip up a dress (back then we had to wear dresses or skirts to school) overnight, like your Mom. She went to a specialized high school for fashion design in Manhattan and I loved seeing the pictures she had to draw of her designs. She didn’t go into the fashion field, however. Your Mom’s talent was amazing and brought back this memory. The sister and I are friends on Facebook, although we don’t correspond a lot. Alana ramblinwitham

    Liked by 1 person

  5. kristin says:

    I sewed but had to use patterns. My great grandmother was a seamstress and my mother said she could sew anything and made her own patterns. Family stories are the best. And your dress is lovely. I’m glad they took another photo of you with your eyes open.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What lovely memories – and lovely dresses! Your mother was not only a fabulously skilled dressmaker, but how fabulous she loved to add embroidery as well. I’m so glad you pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Antoinette Truglio Martin says:

    My grandmother and her sister, Aunt LIl were our seamstresses. We picked out Simplicity McCalls or Butterick patterns, select fabric and once cut out, our pants, shirts and dresses were complete within a few days. Aunt Lil hated the patterns and since she knew our shapes and sizes she made the appropriate changes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Eilene Lyon says:

    Your mom sounds not only talented, but positively passionate about sewing! My mom sewed some of my clothes and I liked some, but preferred store-bought. I did make some of my own, too, but was never really enthused about the process.

    I agree that an heirloom without a story is just something to toss or sell. I donated an heirloom because it was hideous and I had no use for it. With a story, though, I would have kept it, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Simply Z says:

    What a beautiful post! I absolutely love the dress and love how talented and determined your mom is to
    sew. That embroidery is amazing! It’s so great you have those memories of her. Family heirlooms are great and it’s nice to see/hear other’s treasures and stories. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My mom never got into sewing but she had a sewing machine that was a wedding gift and eventually I started inherited it since I was the only one interested in sewing. I didn’t make a lot of things but my grandmother did help me make a few dresses that I loved. Weekends In Maine

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have an heirloom ( a gold bracelet) which I lost for two years. I was really worried because family tradition has it passed on to each generation of girls at age 16. My granddaughter is now 12 so four years to go. I had hidden it when going away on holiday and then forgotten where it was. When I found it I was surprised at its location. It was near where I thought it was but in a different container. I’m now making a book of stories about each woman who owned this bracelet for five generations.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dyannedillon says:

    Love the Easter photo! I’m a little younger than you, but I was still in on the pinchy hat/scratchy petticoat/uncomfy shoes era of Easter clothing!

    Liked by 1 person

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