Monday, August 31, 2009
The Amazing Ima
I can count 5 amazingly talented sewing mentors that have blessed my life. My dear friend Ima is one of them.
Ima was my next door neighbor for 21 years. Like typical New England neighbors, we stayed out of each other's business for many years, but always checked on each other in ice storms, power outages, and the milestones of life. Once my children left for college and life simmered down a bit, I started gardening. Ima would walk by and we would gab away about our last planting endeavors. She taught me most of what I know of gardening. One day she called me over to come get some of the plants she had that needed division. When I got a close up view of her back yard woodland garden, which was never visible from my home, it took everything I had not call up Better Homes and Gardens. She truly had a gift and an eye for texture, color, balance, all of it. Her granddaughter became my daughters best friend. One day I mentioned to her that I was working on my daughter's prom dress. "Oh, you sew? You have to come see my sewing room." Up until that point I never even knew she sewed. Did she sew? OMG, did she sew! Ima had a degree in textiles and clothing design from a University in Texas whose name eludes me. Once graduated she joined the WACS and trained pilots for the war effort. She met her dashing pilot husband while in the service. When the war ended they moved to NY. She went to FIT in the fifties and studied design. She has her custom made Wolf dress form to prove it! She has a lifelong TRUE passion for sewing. Do you believe I was lucky enough to live next door to Ima? I only regret the years we wasted just being busy and not sharing our love for sewing
Ima lost her dear husband a few years back. She is 88 years old, way sharper than I am, lucid, strong (still stacks her cordwood and only heats with wood) and a delight to be around. Ima always has young people around her and they all love being around her.
I moved away four years ago knowing I would never be blessed with a neighbor and friend so special again. We keep in touch. My daughter sees her granddaughter often. Two weeks ago Ima called me and said the decision had been made to sell her home of 40 years, a fabulous home I might add. She said she didn't know anyone who would appreciate her sewing things and would I want them. Would I? Oh, my......we spent this past weekend with Ima and while she has sold all of her antiques at this point, she held on to all of her sewing goodies till I got there. We had an absolute girly blast, full of laughter and giggles. I let her lead the way but the bottom line is she gave it all away, boxes and boxes of fabrics, silks from her trips to the Orient, wools from Pendleton, heirloom fabrics in HUGE amounts. Buttons, metal buttons that can only be described as fine art; tons of bindings, laces, and on and on and on. Oh did I mention the books?
The first time I saw Ima's sewing room I was blown away.I wish I could show you what it was like before the antique merchant ransacked it. First, it was huge. She had SEVEN antique map cabinets. Inside were all her buttons sorted so beautifully. Another map cabinet just held cards and cards of her heirloom french laces. I could go on and on. In the center of the room was a HUGE cutting table made of maple by her husband. Trust me, she designed the perfect cutting table. There is agenerous walk in closet thru a door. In that closet were file cabinets filled with patterns, vintage Vogue designers, vintage childrens clothing, etc. On the right was a ceiling to floor 5 foot wide antique druggist's apothecary cabinet with tons of tiny drawers where snaps, hooks, needles, and all sorts of notions were stored. This closet was lit like daylight and easy to walk around. Shelves went to the ceiling with layers of color coordinated fabrics.
Back in the sewing room were many shelves with all sorts of books to the ceiling. Ima painted. She embroidered. She burned wood. She had books for almost every creative endeavor you could think of and the patterns as well. Ima smocked like I dreamed of smocking. She has given me all her smocking patterns and books and was there to coach me when I first began smocking.
It took us two days to empty out the room and my husband packed and pushed fabric and stuff into every nook and cranny of our car. It literally will take me months to go thru all of this and get it organized. But as I told my 88 year old dear friend, who will be going to live in Oregon with her daughter, I will think of her as I work thru her gifts. I'll remember her warmth, her creativity, her sense of adventure, her God given talent, with every button I sort. every binding I wrap, every lace I Biz, and every fabric I fold for a long long time. I love you, Ima.....Bunny