This piece is the first of my works to record stories, now a key component of my work over the past decade. My maternal grandmother, Marie, was trained as a seamstress, adept at clothing her four children during the Great Depression from discarded, re-worked garments. As a child she made me dresses from printed flower sacks that came from China. I inherited a bed cover she’d sewn, covered with hand embroidered blue birds. Thirty two stories about sewing were collected from a wide range of people. From sad and resourceful to hilarious, these are machine embroidered in yellow-gold over 33.5 feet of sapphire blue douppioni silk. Marie’s story is the first:
In the early 1900s, when she finished grade 8, Marie was apprenticed to a dressmaker. She was a “cuff and collar” girl, she sewed in the whalebone struts. When her employer was about to marry, she chose Marie—18 at the time--- to sew her wedding dress. She liked Marie and saw her talent. She invited Marie along on her honeymoon trip to Paris, to research the latest styles. The trip never happened. Marie’s employer contracted influenza in the Great Epidemic of 1918, and died within three days. She was buried in that wedding dress.