I don’t believe a day has gone by in the last 15 years that I haven’t stopped to smile while looking at this adorable picture of my granddaughters, Jamie and Tate. I believe they were 6 and 3 at this time, but maybe only 5 and 2? Really, I don’t remember. But I do remember picking out the fabric for the dresses, wanting to coordinate it all, and deciding to sew on several appliques with feather stitching, the way my grandmother had shown me many years earlier. These appliques went onto the fronts of both dresses, and the pockets.
I remember working on this sewing project over one Thanksgiving holiday, with my daughter-in-law, Diane, sitting with me at the dining room table after a bit Thanksgiving dinner, patiently sewing on the appliques. Even though I enjoy sewing, it’s nothing I’m really good at, even though I enjoyed sewing when my own kids were little – Allison’s Halloween costumes, or Phil’s GI Joe Army shirt & pants, and the t-shirts I made with stretchy fabrics for everyone in the family. I remember the kids’ dad remarking that we looked like a bolt of fabric walking downthe street when we all matched. Still makes me laugh. Why on earth would I’d tackle projects like that I’ll never know, but I did.
My favorite story about these Christmas dresses, however, concernes the zipper for Jamie’s dress. Without any idea that I could sew in a perfect zipper, I did just that. Really, it was a marvel. I clipped off the threads and stared in amazement at the most perfect zipper I’d ever sewn into anything. Not a wrinkle. No pinched fabric, no pins broken in the process, no fingers pricked with sharp pins holding the zipper into place, and the tops of the zipper actually matched. You couldn’t even tell a zipper had been sewn into the fabric. In my excitement I jumped up from the machine and took the still-unfinished dress to show to my husband, who was watching a football game. “Look,” I exclaimed. “It’s perfect. It’s the best zipper I’ve ever sewn in. I’m so proud of myself. Can you believe how perfect this is?”
You know what they say about pride before the fall. It’s true. He looked at the zipper, then looked up at me with this quizical look on his face. He wasn’t nearly as excited as I was. He shook his head a bit, as if to say, ‘No,’ and finally said me, with his steady voice full of compassion, “Ruthie, it’s on the wrong side of the fabric.” And it was.
If you’ve ever seen a balloon deflate quickly, that’s how I felt. The wind just left me. But being the trooper that I am, I picked up the seam ripper and removed my perfect zipper, although there were some muttered words and a few tears. After all, going from a perfect zipper to a ripped-out zipper, in a matter of minutes, would undo any woman trying to make two Christmas dresses for her granddaughters.
When I finally turned the fabric over and sewed in that zipper, it came out about the way my zippers usually did ~ OK but not perfect. It didnt quite match at the top. “That’s OK,” I told my husband, showing him my redone zipper. “She has long hair. It will cover up the top of the zipper.” All I had to do was to remind Diane to let Jamie wear her hair down if she was going to wear this dress.
Tate actually came out the winner here. She wore her dress and even Jamie’s when she’d outgrown her own little dress. And it’s Tate who gives me the even biggest laugh about these dresses. The first year the girls had the dresses to wear ~ and I must brag that they were both perfect fits, their family had been invited to light one of the Advent candles at church, and lucky for me, I was there with them. Jamie was all dressed in her dress, with the red turtle neck shirt and red leggings. But Tate didn’t want to wear her dress that day.
Her mom, Diane, just casually folded the dress and took it with her to church, letting our little Tate run around in her red turtle neck shirt and leggings. I think they both actually had on red long pants, not really leggings. Whatever they were, they were so perfect with their dresses.
When the pastor called their names to go to the front of the church to light the candle, my savvy daughter-in-law smiled, reached down to where Tate was standing in front of her, slipped Tate’s dress over her head, zipped it up, stood up with Tate in her arms, and walked to the front of the church. I’m not sure Tate even realized that she was suddeny wearing the dress she hadn’t wanted to wear, but there she was ~ cute as could be, in her pretty Christmas dress just like her big sister, Jamie.
As I look back I see there was a lot of perfection going into these little dresses. In my mind they were going to be perfect, and as it turned out, they were. The colors were perfect, the design was great, and of course the feather stitches around the appliques were totally perfect, and we almost had a perfect zipper, too. But the most perfect thing of all about these dresses, we all know, is the sweet, adorable granddaughters who wore them.
If I ever move from this house, I know for a fact that this picture of Jamie and Tate in their Christmas dresses will be one of the first things in my suitcase, and I am so grateful for my daughter-in-law who enjoyed having the girls wear these dresses, and absolutely love this picture that she had taken. It gives me joy every single day!