Where did it come from?

Where did it come from?

*This is a guest blog, written by Renee Caratozzolo*

Where did your sewing dreams come from? Did you meet someone who loved sewing? See something that caught your eye and think to yourself “I can create that”? Learn from a family member? 

My mom is one of 9 children. Each and every one of them is naturally a jack (or jill) of all trades and so very creative. My house is the messy house of a creative mind (I really need to find someone to come at least once a month to do my floors). But back to family. My French Canadian grandma raised her 9 children in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, and they demanded a lot of clothing, so naturally she turned to sewing and upcycling fabrics from around the house. My mom learned to sew from grandma as well as Home Economics in high school, but she often downplayed her sewing abilities. I challenged my mom in many ways. I still do challenge her, but in different ways, we now push each other's sewing abilities out of the box on a monthly basis. But one of our favorite challenges was when I asked her to make my prom dress. (Side story, Grandma made my moms wedding dress. She never got to wear it. It burned up in a house fire several weeks before the wedding. Somehow she scrambled to find a new dress and she looked beautiful on her wedding day). The prom dress turned out beautiful by the way, and exactly to my vision, pale yellow with a clear shimmer border on the bust.

Baby Anabelle with caption Grandma with Baby Anabelle

I didn't know much of my grandma’s sewing history when I moved into my first apartment, however when I was younger I often sewed with my mom. I am pretty sure I was really annoying (as annoying as my wonderful kiddo is now), and constantly asked to sew with her. I know she had other pressing projects on her sewing table but she made time to sew with me. I learned the basics from her…sewing a straight line. I sewed a lot more intricate things, hello stuffed elephant, but I never learned to sew patterns. I relied on my mom for that, she read the patterns, digested them, and directed me on what to do. But as I moved into my first apartment, I knew that everything I owned was tiny, my kitchen table, my coffee table, even my windows, and I needed to begin making things to fit the tiny size of my tables and windows. So it hit up Walmart and started making my own placemats and table runners, no pattern, just me and some rectangles that I thought would fit my table. I like a table runner that fits neatly in the middle of the table, which back then was about 10 inches by 15 inches. Somehow those rectangles worked and scribbled on a paper in my sewing room, 17 years later, I still use those measurements. So began my adult love of sewing…straight lines. I loved the satisfaction of making placemats and table runners and a lot of my family enjoyed that as well. I also liked making rag quilts and blankets. I excelled at that for about 13 years. I think straight lines eventually became boring. 

Baby blanket and placemat set

Passing through upstate New York on the way home to New Jersey I picked up a wallet pattern (along with more fabric for my stash). I had no hopes of being able to read the pattern let alone create a finished product but I surprised myself. I may have used the wrong interfacing but not only did I finish but it was USABLE. Maybe I could follow a pattern after all.

This wallet pattern has become one of my favorite patterns to make

In August 2019 I picked up a serger and started getting to know it. Little did I know that the timing would be perfect. Armed with a ton of fabric we entered March 2020. Facebook and Ellie and Mac helped pass the long hours that filled the first few months of lockdown. I went from sewing straight lines to putting sleeves on shirts. WHAT??? Seriously, every time I finished a garment I was in awe of myself. But as I look back at my own sewing journey, I realize that it isn't just about me, but about my mom, my grandmother, and my entire extended family. They have been my foundation, my inspiration, and my sounding board. So tell me, what was your inspiration to begin sewing?

Generations of sewing


(Written by: Renee Caratozzolo)

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