my special christmas gift: a common thread

One of the many dresses my mother made for me as a child.

The women in my family have been bonded by a common thread…a passion for clothing. My Grandmother Lane sewed beautifully and took great pride in dressing my mother in handmade clothing she carefully constructed. My grandmother also designed the most gorgeous quilts from the small pieces of leftover fabric. My mother took to sewing as well and I too had one of a kind handmade dresses as a child. My father likened this precious hobby to playing dolls…where I was the doll and they would bond over the joys of dressing me in their creations.

One of the many dresses my mother made for me as a child.

One of the many dresses my mother made for me as a child.

My Grandmother Lane’s Double Wedding Ring Quilt: priceless!

My Grandmother Lane’s Double Wedding Ring Quilt: priceless!

It’s probably not surprising that the legacy continues with me and my love for the art of clothing design. Immersed in the construction of clothing from an early age, I became an observant student of how fabric could transform into a dimensional garment.  I grew up with my mother sewing nearly every day for a stretch of time.  I can close my eyes and see the sewing machine on our dining room table and hear the repetitive pulsating sound as her foot would press the pedal and her hands would turn the fabric with such precision. My mother and her best friend, Rosemary, had a business designing children’s clothing.  I would watch them cut patterns and create new appliqué designs starting from when I was about 10 years old. Although I’ve dabbled with patterns and know my way around a sewing machine, I never went as deep into the craft of sewing as both my mother and grandmother.  However, my destiny seems to be catching up with me! 

The children’s clothing…

During high school, I would find photos of dresses in magazines and my amazing mother would mimic the design allowing me to have the most unique dresses for the school dances. In college I would come home and find some of my mother’s cocktail dresses and coats up in the attic and “reinvent” them into my own creations. My wedding dress was also designed to my specifications by a very talented aspiring designer. It still hangs in my closet and remains relevant in its timelessness.

When my own children were little, I dressed them in the most precious clothing I could find. My own wardrobe took a back seat during this time. I loved dressing them as much as my grandmother and mother loved dressing me. I find clothing is a mark of one’s history. Seeing a certain item, or holding it, can generate a very vivid memory of a special time and place — like when my children were learning to walk, or blowing out a candle on a birthday cake, or sleeping in their first “big kid” bed.  I purged much of their clothing over the years but some pieces were too difficult to part with. Even as I practice my Marie Kondo “art of decluttering,” I just could not manage to risk discarding the memories that these pieces resurrected every time I would stumble into where they were stored. 

collage

This year, I wanted to honor the joy that resided in that box of children’s clothing in a way that would capture my family’s love for bespoke apparel. When my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her I wanted her help me complete a project that is well overdue. I wanted to find an artisan to make a quilt from Lane and Finn’s baby clothes. To ensure that this project actually gets done, I’ve asked her to be my project manager!  However, we need to find someone to produce this very special quilt. I thought I would ask the Alexandria Stylebook community hoping someone may know of a quilter. Odds are in my favor that this community knows someone who quilts and may have created a quilt from children’s clothing before.  I would be grateful if you would pass along their contact information to my mom as part of my Christmas wish.  You can absolutely expect a follow up post later this year when this project is complete with pictures of the completed piece of art!

My children are growing up so quickly. My daughter will be looking at colleges soon and my son is just shy of looking me eye to eye. Time is so precious and the occurrence of each Christmas reminds me that I must not lose sight of what is most important in the frantic rush to preparing for another holiday. We cannot stop the clock but we can preserve what is most precious to us in a form that brings us the most heart-felt joy.

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I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Happy New Year!

  • The latest from Alicia

Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.

1 Comment

  1. Catie Gage says:

    Beautiful article Alicia! xoxoxox
    We missed you on Christmas Eve at Maria’s…..

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