Simplicity


Grandma teaches little girl me how to sew on her foot treadle Singer. I only run the needle through a thumb once, I learn to never do this again. Quite a gorgeous antique powered by our pumping bare feet. Nice machine with precise control over speed through our feet. Hers is a single stitch with forward and reverse along with a lock down foot. We make long sleeve white shirts for our boys, mend overalls, hem patchwork for quilt making and my favorite, making dresses!

Simplicity is a company of several which make "patterns" for sewing together girl clothes such as dresses, pants, blouses and some clothing for young boys. Patterns are available in many sizes for young girls, teenage girls and adult women. Older and looking back at dress patterns I realize those folded and packaged clothing templates reflect the latest fashion trends for given time periods. Pattern makers attend fashion shows and like magic patterns strikingly similar to high fashion trends are quickly displayed on store shelves everywhere.

For this essay I am presenting patterns of the sixties, 1960 through 1970. Many of you girls will look at these patterns and be delighted, "I wore a dress just like this!" Many of you boys will remember, "I had an intense crush on a buxom blonde who wore this dress!"

Our local farming community barter system is perfect for making clothes at home, we all did, none of us could afford to buy nice clothes. A girl walks over to Hendon's general store, Maudie Hendon shelf displays several dozen Simplicity pattern packages all used at least once, some several times. Few steps away, Maudie stacks neat bolts of materials, lots of yardage cloth and a cutting table. For a few dollars a girl can make a high fashion dress and look like a million dollars.

System is an older wife with three or four extra dollars buys a seventy-five cent pattern and a couple yards of material along with color matching thread. She sews together a pretty dress then carefully repackages her Simplicity pattern and instructions. Maudie buys back those used patterns for twenty-five cents then sells those packages again for fifty cents! A win-win for all from poor to really poor. None of our families are wealthy, all of us are poor but rich in farm life and family life.

This is Simplicity pattern 8049 listed as miss petite size 12 with bust size 34 inches, waist 26 inches and hips, 36 inches, my beanpole size during my early teens! This dress is a simple collarless A-line dress fancied up a bit with a zipper down back. Dress pattern is the same but there are three versions, long sleeve, short sleeve and sleeveless with a lowered neck line.

Backside of a package provides lots of information and how to measure to determine number of material yards needed along with zipper type and length, homemade belt width and length, all needed is included. Basic measurements are bust, waist, hips and distance between nap of neck and nap of back. Included are instructions to "personalize" a fit for waist and hips.

A partially transparent pattern much like durable crepe paper. These patterns unfold into a dress front, a dress back and separate patterns for sleeves. Some include patterns for collars and other accessories like pockets. A pattern has lines for cutting and lines for folding hems and seams to sew. Size is custom adjustable by cutting a bit smaller or a bit larger, maybe tighter at waist and larger at hips.

A pattern can be straight pinned to material then pencil or ink lines drawn. Some patterns this works well to cut both pattern and material while following lines. This has "cutting on the bias"curves easy and virtually mistake free.

A couple of patterns you readers will recognize as straight out of the sixties. These are a type of clothing labeled "mini-length" - bottom hem is well above knees. This cut and style reflects Christians starting to get over themselves and their high white horses. Girls are "allowed" more freedom in choice of attire. Not much choice for the self-righteous, this is an era when a big cast iron kettle of feminism begins boiling over striking fear in minds of those of faith.

Hippy Chicks! Look close at pattern 8177 which features "Nehru" cut collars!

Square dancing dresses! Yippy I O Ki Ay! This is a notion well beyond comprehension of and dancing skills of all you shiny shoes wearing city slickers. Tiny waist lines! Today, with 67% of Americans ranging in weight from fat to obese, just about all waistlines are as big around as bottom hems of these dresses.

These days my daughter and I use a vintage fifties Singer with single needle stitching and double needle stitching. All steel and stainless steel construction, this Singer is of the best quality; durable, dependable and low maintenance.

We have lots of accessories, our machine sews an endless variety of stitch patterns along with letters and numbers which are perfect for embroidering our names on our poodle skirts!

Out in our cowboy's shop we have a Consew industrial sewing machine with a walking foot which we use for upholstery and leather works. This sewing machine is powerful enough to sew together sheet metal or your thumbs! Our girl's daddy outfitted this machine with a special motor and pulleys allowing us girls to adjust sewing speed from one mile per hour to one-hundred miles per hour!

My most loved childhood girlfriend is Sookie. She is eight to ten years older than me and enjoys a five to six year old son. Quite tragic, her husband is killed while spot logging over in Arkansas. A huge log breaks loose from a tractor trailer then rolls over him. This is dangerous work. She is a widow before Sookie is old enough to vote or drink.

All of our tiny farming community pitch right in and help Sookie survive life. Housewives bring her food, husbands help with her farm, children come around to play with her son. Sookie is a talented seamstress, best around our Oklahoma farms. She earns a little money working at what we call "taking in sewing" which is mending and making clothes for others. Five bucks and cost of pattern and material, she makes the most gorgeous of custom tailored dresses and shirts for wives who do not know how to sew.

This cowboy I madly love lends a helping hand and else. Once a week he walks up to Sookie's farm to make repairs or mule plow her fields. He replaces broken glass, patches her barn roof, paints her house, plows and plants for Sookie, he is her personal handyman. She cannot afford to pay him so she fixes my cowboy fancy dinners, bakes pies to take home and thrills him with loving personal behaviors. There are times this boy of mine does not come home until midnight and when he crawls into bed with me he smells of Sookie's perfume. I do not mind, we love Sookie and she loves us. She is romance lonely, she has her needs just like me.

Each Tuesday afternoon I go up to Sookie's house. She teaches me sewing on her electric machine, a vintage fifties machine just like ours today. Sookie teaches farm girl me a valuable skill to earn money, taking in sewing. My girlfriend teaches me tricks of sewing and tricks of seduction. We talk sewing and we talk sex. Sookie teaches me how to seduce my cowboy so he will marry me. Back then, I do not know my cowboy already intends to marry me. He is an ornery cowboy, always tells me, "I ain't marrying no crazy injun girl!" He still does today.

After my Choctaw rite of passage to womanhood at thirteen, grandma tells me many secrets. Amongst those she reveals a birth story, "Your boy cuts your umbilical cord then holds you in his arms. By the love in his eyes I know right then you two would marry." My husband is barely ten years old when I am born and grandma sees our future.

Sookie teaches me sewing and teaches me sexuality. She shows me how to apply makeup and lipstick and, important, how to fancy-up my hair. Sookie gives me a skirt and matching top then helps me custom tailor my skirt to shorter than mini-length, and teaches me how to tighten-up my skirt around my hips to add a Marilyn Monroe back and forth twitch of skirt when I sashay for this cowboy we both love.

My best girlfriend teaches me valuable skills; sewing and seduction. Sookie gives me an ability to seduce my cowboy into making babies or into marriage, and I do not care which comes first, baby or betrothal.

A comical love story is Sookie is directly responsible for convincing my cowboy to finally yield to my desires after years of my trying to seduce him. This story of my girlfriend all day and night, with aid of white lightning, working up my husband into allowing me to gift him with my virginity at thirteen is a wildly wonderful tale of tail, but much too hot to be told here.

This is a simplicity of life of rural farm girls during the sixties: sewing and sex.