I've loved to sew since I was six. When I was a kid, I would beg my mom for quilting scraps and use her sewing machine to make an endless supply of small pillows and "purses" which were really just pieces of rectangular fabric sewn in half. I would give them to my mom, who would accept them graciously, though I'm sure she sighed inwardly.
In high school, I made a few of my own Halloween costumes, and took quite a few costuming classes in college, but it wasn't until I took an internship at the Renaissance Faire that I really learned to sew.
About ten years ago, I was dating a man (let's call him Captain) who worked for the original Renaissance Faire. More on that part of my Geek later. Anyway, he wanted to share his passion with me, so he asked if there was a job for me in the Costume Shop. I had no idea when I met the Costume Director that I would be meeting a woman who would change my life.
I should probably start by saying that this woman, who we'll call Momma, can be very intimidating. Large, loud, and opinionated, never afraid to offend people and always saying what she thought. Because of this, she acquire several unkind nicknames, and reputation for being... well, a bitch. On first meeting her, I was completely terrified. But out of love for Captain, I decided I could get over and stick it out for the three months I would be working for her.
Well, three months turned into 7 years. Momma became my boss, my mentor, and my friend. I even lived with her for a while when Captain and I were having financial difficulty. And she taught me so much more than how to sew. She taught me how to handle delicate situations, and the psychological value of a clean workstation. She told me stories from her past, and taught me how to craft an excellent punchline. But most important, Momma taught me to believe in myself, and helped me learn to love and respect Me.
Momma died almost three years ago, and I still cry every time I remember that I'll never see her again. Never hug her, and tell her I love her, never hear another story, never learn another nifty shortcut. She is survived by literally hundreds of costumes she made over the years, and I smile every time I see one at Faire.
And in a way, she's survived by me. She used to call me her Little Principessa, and joked that she would adopt me if my mother ever passed away. She taught me almost everything I know about sewing (just not everything she knows), and I haven't done it much since she passed, it was just too painful.
Today, I'm making a large number of costumes for my little brother's Latin club, and for the first time, it doesn't hurt to look at a sewing machine. I'm still miss her, and I still wish I could call her and ask her how to deal with crinkle chiffon, but I'm okay. I like to think she's watching me, whispering in my ear when I'm doing something clever, and screaming, "CLAIRE-BUH! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" when I do something wrong.
Don't worry Momma, I bought extra and its still a week before opening.