New Dress Finished

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, May 28, 1913:  My dress is finished and ready to wear whenever that time comes.

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Source: Ladies Home Journal (July, 1912)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Based on how quickly Grandma’s mother made the dress, she must have been an accomplished seamstress. On May 24, Grandma wrote:

Ma started to make my dress I got for a graduation present. I want it finished by May 30th.

Grandma’s mother made the dress in only 5 days! . . . and she beat the deadline her daughter imposed by 2 days!

Have Grandma’s plans changed?  On the 24th she seemed certain that she needed the dress by the 30th—now the dress is “ready to wear whenever that time comes.”

27 Responses

  1. Maybe she was expecting to be asked out to something, or by someone and it didn’t pan out.

  2. Ooh….details, Grandma….we want details!!

  3. I wonder if Helena had to do extra chores to free up her mother’s time for sewing.

    • It does seem like her mother devoted a lot of time to making the dress. It would make sense if Grandma had do some of the work that her mother typically did.

  4. I guess 100 years ago, there weren’t all the distractions we have nowadays and a person could focus their attention on making a dress. But still, five days is pretty fast.

    • At the very least, the distractions would have been different. I can imagine that she might have been called away from her sewing to help with routine farm tasks (feeding the chickens and gathering eggs, churning butter, etc) or farm emergencies (providing an extra pair of hands to help repair a broken piece of farm equipment, helping a cow deliver a calf, etc.)

  5. I just love the way your diary shows the changing moods of your Grandmother. There is something that comes across that shows her young temperament. I’d say that now that she finally had the dress–it was real, it was made and it was all hers–she was now content to plan leisurely when and where she would wear it. It would be a treat for her to wear and she’d want to showcase it in the best setting at the best event, I’m sure. And yes, I think 5 days is a quick turnaround, especially when we remember many of the details were hand finished in those days.

    • It always amazes me how we can sense her mood, and how it changes from day to day, when she typically only wrote a sentence or two each day.

  6. I remember long ago when I was about 5 years old, my mother had my dresses made by a good friend. She did “smocking.” Store bought things just never measured up.

    • I’d forgotten about smocking. Your comment reminds me how my maternal grandmother (not this one) made me a lovely smocked dress when I was 5 or 6. I think that I wore it for my first-grade photo.

  7. I wonder what the fabric was like and the style… your photo is very pretty… wonder if it will ever come back in style :)

    • Sometimes I wish that Grandma would have included more details. . . .

      The fabric in the picture looks so delicate. It seems like designers are pulling elements of the vintage styles into modern dresses. It would be fun if dresses like this came back in style.

  8. Did Grandma’s mother have a sewing machine? I can’t remember if it was mentioned before. Still I’ll bet she did a great bit of the detailed sewing by hand!

    • My best guess is that her mother had a treadle sewing machine. It would have been a lot of work using the treadle machine, but less than sewing by hand. :)

  9. I also wish we knew a few details such as the color of the dress but maybe it will be mentioned in a future entry.

  10. I wonder about the plans as well, perhaps she just liked deadlines?

  11. Your grandma was a girl of few words!
    Although there is something to be said for that — now we would get the details ad nauseaum…or rather, too much information.

    • Even though there are many details that she doesn’t tell us, I’m amazed how much we can learn about her and her times from what she did write.

  12. I wonder if she’ll tell us when she gets to wear it the first time.

  13. Do you think your great grandma made you grandma help? That does seem very fast.

  14. And what exactly is “that time”?
    ~.~

  15. By that time ladieswear and women looked feminine.

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