Thursday, July 03, 2008


I've been teaching myself to sew. My paternal grandmother, Mary Cook, was a seamstress and I really wish she had taught me a few of her tricks. She could make anything you could possibly dream up. In no time at all she would whip up a matching dress for me and my doll or a new set of curtains for my playhouse.

(Photo: Gram sewing)

My paternal grandfather, Lenny Cook (as luck would have it), fixed sewing machines for Singer. He could fix anything actually, and had other gigs too, but he was most known for his work with Singer. He was given a tiny silver screwdriver from Tiffany's. Can you imagine? I've never seen such a thing! And can I tell you that this little piece of the past means more to me than a diamond because it was his, and because it's useful. I don't own a diamond.

My beloved grands sprinkled my childhood with bits of magic that I'll never forget. Big Sunday family dinners, sleep-overs that included pillow fights that THEY started; snowmen; and baking cookies together. I still remember how the sun porch smelled of the wooden venetian blinds - it was wonderful!

The sun porch was the first location of my playhouse before they ran out of room and set up a cozy play nook in their basement next to my grandfather's workshop. His workshop was a place of mystery and wonder and tools that smelled of metal and oil. I loved watching him fix things - like magic! Sometimes I would purposely shake my music box so the leg of the little dancer would get stuck and I could watch him take it apart and fix it. I know now that he was hip to my scheme, but he never let on.

Anyway, I've been teaching myself to sew and reading Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing and I really think I might be able to make a few things from this book. She makes it seem so, as the title suggests, simple! Since I actually made tote bags for Satchel's birthday flying by the seat of my pants without a pattern or anything - the first thing I will attempt is a Lotta styled tote bag. The cover of the book has a fold out envelope which contains all the patterns for the projects in her book. I just love it!

So I strung my old playhouse curtains on piece of cord for a makeshift house/fort for Satch in our a basement. I swear I could feel my grandmother's warmth sewn right into these curtains and I think she would have been quite pleased that her handiwork is being enjoyed by yet another generation. You see, after that tornado warning that drove us under ground, I knew that I needed to do something fun with that space so that if it should ever happen again it wouldn't seem so gloomy. I hung a giant paper lantern that looks like the moon that Satch is so fond of and below it I placed my little playhouse table and chairs. The tiny metal appliances are set upon a wood blanket box.

I made a parking lot for his ride-ons with painter's tape.

It's a bit trippy watching Satch play with my old toys. I still have my old playhouse packed in a box and one day I vow to put it together again. My grandmother saved special things. I'm a bit like her, except that I can't sew as well. I'm learning though, I really am!

Below is a photo of a wee me inside my playhouse. It was grand!

Have a good weekend, everyone!

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posted by Wendy at 5:05 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG a parking lot for ride ons! That is so clever! What a sweet little area to play in.

8:36 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thanks, L :-)

9:11 AM  
Blogger denise said...

WOW - look at that! What a nice basement!!! Drywall and electrical outlets! ;) That is a super fun setup you have down there - I bet it is a great playspace.

I love that book too - I made a hanging wall organizer and a few things I of course don't remember now (uh, note to self: get more sleep so you don't forget everything!). :)

I love sewing but am not at the level where I can do big elaborate patterns and detailed clothes yet - so the books with the simple patterns that are also stylish and don't take too long are great.

How cool you still have that kitchen set! Wow.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

yes...the basement is partially finished. i like having a basement (finished or not) and most places here don't so it was one reason we decided to rent it.

i have all most all of my playhouse toys including little dishes and pans that satch enjoys playing with.

oh - and that music box? still have it! when my grandfather passed away in 1998, i deliberately shook it for the last time and got the dancer's leg stuck. it was my wacky way of honoring my grandfather.

12:59 PM  
Blogger mama al said...

this is fabulous! i am inspired....our basement looks like a toy store blew up! i too sew, and LOVE the curtain idea....

may i borrow??

great blog!

11:46 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

thanks, al. you may borrow anything...i'm all about sharing.


2:12 PM  
Blogger Kate in NJ said...

That is awesome. I am a "saver", my dh is not so

5:17 PM  

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