Monday, December 5

My hero, me, and Holly Hobby

I’m what’s known in the stitching world as a “sewist.” This term was coined because saying you’re a sewer looks like…well, you can see what it looks like. Other than writing, sewing is my very favorite productive thing to do. I make quilts, I sew for the children’s hospital, I put together Christmas things I’m not sure anyone really wants but they take because I think they know a piece of my heart comes with it. I spend way too much money in fabric stores and my stash is…oh, it’s mountainous.

It hasn’t always been so. I hated (and was terrible at) home economics, hated my mom’s treadle sewing machine, and never, ever, EVER wanted to sew anything.

Ahem. At some point in early marriage-parenthood years, a friend gave me an ancient electric sewing machine that went forwards and backwards. Sometimes. And…I don’t know, there was something about it that drew me. I began sewing, teaching myself in fits and starts.

Segue to Christmas of 1975. My daughter Kari was nearly four, and she loved Holly Hobby. No, I mean really, she LOVED her. She had Holly Hobby wallpaper, dolls, and dishes. I wanted her to have a long Holly Hobby dress, too, but couldn’t find one within the Santa budget. I did find some fabric, though. Yellow, with Holly Hobbies all over it. It was so pretty and I bought it. Cut it out wrong and bought some more.

Of course, there was never enough time to go around in those days, so I ended up on Christmas Eve, sitting at the dining room table and making the dress while Duane assembled little-boy toys and watched television. Long after the toys were assembled, I was still sewing. The machine was giving me fits. I was exhausted. Tears dribbled on the fabric.

Duane, who watches television every waking moment—I’ve always said if I had a rival in our marriage, it was a remote control—turned it off at about ten and came to sit at the table with me. “Can I help?”

“No. Thank you.”


“Oh, yes.”

I sewed and drank coffee until midnight, re-sewing where the machine skipped stitches. I gathered. Ripped out.

“Here. Open this.” Duane thrust a package at me. It was a little sewing case, the tools inside including a sharp seam-ripper. I made good use of it. Cried some more. Sewed. He sat with me.

“Why don’t you open—” he started.

“No. Thank you.” He was trying to make me feel better. I knew that.

We drank more coffee, being careful not to spill any on the fabric. I sewed, ripped out, wept.

It was after 2:00 AM when he folded the dress in tissue paper, put it in a box, and wrapped it in Holly Hobby wrapping paper. We stacked the sewing mess into a corner—we’d need the table in the morning—and went to bed, sleeping like the dead for the three or four hours until the kids woke.

The dress fit Kari. It was beautiful. I still have it. I also still have the sewing machine that was under the tree the next morning, the one my husband wanted me to open the night before, although it’s a spare machine now.

I still have Duane, too, and I have never forgotten how he sat at that table with me until the wee hours, laughing and talking and handing me tissues. That was the real present.


  1. OMG! What a sweet story! What a sweet man...yes, a hero! Can you make me one on your machine? LOve your writing!

  2. Thanks, Em. You gave me a great start to my day.

  3. Oh, Liz. Your post brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful story of love. Love for your daughter and the love of your husband.

  4. Thanks, Sharon. I love the memory, especially at this time of year.

  5. Beautiful, Liz :) He's a keeper :)Lovely story of motherhood too.

  6. Thanks, Toni. They are both keepers!

  7. OOh, Liz, you just made me a little teary! What a wonderful memory. I, too, am a sewist.. At least I try...and I'm about to finish my first BIG project - a quilt called Quilted Village. Some day we're gonna hafta go fabric shopping! PS: was a Holly Hobby fanatic, too - complete with wallpaper, bed get the picture. Wonderful story - thanks for sharing!

  8. Liz, what a great story! I'm so not a seamstress! I have a sewing machine that Husband bought me 35 years ago and it hasn't seen the light of day in at least ten years. There's a hat I'd like to crochet--it's darling, but I have to learn how to crochet first...

  9. What a sweet post, Liz. Your love for your daughter and your hubby's love for you is very evident in the things you do for each other. Thanks for sharing. :)

  10. OH, Liz!
    I'm bawling my eyes out. What a sweet man. I love him...sigh.

  11. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. I've so enjoyed revisiting that night.

  12. Ah darn it, you made me all weepy-eyed. This is an awesome story, Liz. Thank you so much for sharing.

    I had a Holly Hobby house when I was little. The little stove's burners came off with a tiny little tool and the bread came out of the little pan. I remember everything was detailed and realistic. (The kind of thing that would be labeled choking hazard now days) I loved it. I'm glad you kept the dress, and the husband. ; ) Both are priceless.

  13. Count me on the teary-eyed. Wonderful story. I am not and never shall be a sewist. Everytime I've tried the machine runs away with my fabric--I think it's a conspiracy, they're trying to escape me.

    Even in my family of hobbits, I stitch-witchery our hems--because nothing comes in true short :)

  14. I loved your story. I have two daughters, 18mths apart and I used to make them dresses every Christmas. They weren't all that great but it mattered to me, like I think with you, that I actually made something from scratch. I don't sew much now but I do make little things that are all my own work everysingle Christmas!

  15. Great story! I loved Holly Hobby when I was a kid. I think I had a Holly Hobby beddspread.

    I can sew just well enough to think I can sew. I usually stick to Halloween costumes and things like pillows. I have a dress I made when I was first married. now that I think of it, it was very Holly Hobbyish. I will never wear it again, unless I go to a pioneer day or something. But I made it and it will always be something I'll keep.

  16. I loved Holly Hobby, too, and was glad Kari did. Thanks to everyone for stopping by today! Anxious to see what D'Ann has in store for us tomorrow.

  17. I can see a button, and that's about it. I made a pair of shorts in home ec once. They were about ten sizes too big and one leg was longer than the other.

  18. lol, Shawn! I made a gathered skirt in home ec--all the gathers were in back; it looked like a bustle!