Hello World!

Thank you for visitin’ us a spell. As you might know already, we are two sisters, who are undeniably daughters of Appalachia. We were born and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains, of North Carolina. Things in these blue and purple hazed mountains might be a bit different than other places, slower and more measured to be sure. Our words and phrases sometimes raise eyebrows, and even now as I type the words in my head are not the same, but I’ll leave enough for it to feel like you’re porch sittin’ with us! But if we were, between the mountain twang and our expressions, you wouldn’t understand it all. Our differences aside, folks here are willing to help others and share our stories. Which is our reason for being here, to share our piddlin’ with everyone, so now we will introduce ourselves.

Hello, my name is Samantha, the younger of the two girls in our large family. I am a wife, and a mother to two beautiful headstrong daughters. My love of sewing started as a youngun. I can remember stealing my Mama’s needles, and hiding under my bed to sew papers together. Then I’d hide the needle in that lining on the bottom of the box springs when I thought someone was coming or I was done. Which seems silly now. You see Appalachia is full of superstitions , and throughout our stories we will share those with you. In our Mom’s house she can’t give you a needle or loan you one, you have to steal it. otherwise it’s bad luck. So she keeps her needles in the curtains, so if you need one you can just steal it. I wonder if she ever wondered where all those needles went ? Either way you can go to her house even today and find needles in her curtains. Makes me smile, just thinking about it.

Years later, in 2012, my husband bought me a sewing machine. And by the time I figured out how to thread it, and proceeded to break every single needle that came with it , I was fit to be tied, and I stuffed it back in the box. Feeling deflated, I pushed the box into the back of my closet and left it there until 2016. That year I was helping my husband’s Mamaw two days a week, with her canning and cleaning. She became obsessed with finding a poke of quilt blocks she had packed away someplace. For those of you who may not know, a poke is a bag. After searching high and low, we finally found the carefully stitched blocks. But not the one she was remembering so fondly, while I was absolutely mesmerized by all the ones she had packed away to gather dust. Later as we were canning jelly, I asked her if her Mama had taught her to sew. and she explained how she had gotten married at fourteen , and hadn’t been able to sew. However, she knew how to make jelly. So she had struck up a bargain with the lady down the road, to trade her jelly for new dresses when she was in need. That was how women did a lot of things, they traded their skills and handmade wares for what they couldn’t do themselves. Seems like a lost art, now women try to do, and be everything, stretching themselves so thin, and stripping joy from their lives.

That very evening, I went to Walmart. I bought some precuts, and set my eye on making myself a quilt. And let’s just say it was a guam, in other words a big ol’ mess. But I was determined, so I went to Joann’s and bought a Vogue pattern, thinking if I couldn’t quilt , I’d just make dresses instead . If any of you are trying to learn to sew, please hold off on the Vogue patterns for just a bit. It swallered me whole, fell apart, and I broke so many needles trying to insert the zipper, I finally put it in by hand. At that point I almost gave up and quit, until I looked on Youtube. This might surprise some of you folks, but contrary to some beliefs we do not have, to have the sunlight pumped in, because we are so far out of touch with the rest of the world, we do indeed have the internet. My YouTube search led me to craft sewing and Indie patterns. And the rest is history, I’ve been sewing and buying fabric ever since. And as any sewist will tell you, buying fabric and sewing are two separate hobbies. And now I’ll let Jamie share her story.

Hi, I’m Jamie, the older sister, and technically the middle child of the seven children in our family. Samantha is my only sister, and by the time she came along, I think God knew I needed her. Fun fact, we’ve only ever had one argument. I am also a wife, and the Mom of two . I have a wise and wonderful son, and a sweet and strong-minded daughter. That may be a theme in our family, that strong will we have. My sewing story isn’t as certain as Samantha’s, I think because I spent so much time with my Mamaw and Granny, and their siblings that sewing was always there in the background. From the clothing I wore , the blankets I slept under, and the aprons, and house dresses they wore. Reminders left from hands throughout my family tree, some seeming like ancestors themselves. Most Saturdays in the cooler months, after the Gardens were all sleeping, and their riches had already been canned and preserved, my Granny would sit at her kitchen table humming hymns, while sewing on her Kenmore. I have a distinct memory of her bumping a straight-backed chair , humming ‘Amazing Grace’ , while hand stitching a patch to someone’s pants. I can close my eyes and see everything from that moment trapped in my mind.

This was us , in dresses our mama had made just for the occasion! Circa 1988 .

And my Mamaw had this quilt, I think they call em’ Crazy Quilts’. Pretty sure Mamaw just called it the quilt, no frilly name, or pattern about it. Just random bits of jewel toned scraps, and some black velvet hand stitched with a golden thread. It was all the things a quilt should be and more, the thick and worn scraps, stitched together with callouses and love, and every moment spent under it was like a dream , a scrumptious and crinkled dream. I loved that quilt more than anything, and I am sure it was more the time with my Mamaw that caused that love. But I think the love we all had for that blanket, worn it slap out, but again maybe it was the love of the Lady who owned it. But now years after she has been gone , her and that quilt’s memories are still tangled, and I will recreate that quilt for generations to come. And our Mama also was a sewist, we all wore garments she made for us. We also each had a blanket she crocheted for us as well. I always helped mama with the sewing, from reading the pattern, to pinning it down, and even cutting out that veil like tissue pattern for the next project. And I am telling you , while everyone else was wanting to go to the mall, I wanted to go to Piece Goods, the fabric store in town. I was always hand sewing these elaborate costumes by hand, even before Cosplay was a thing.

I guess for me sewing was more about getting over the fear of the machine . I mean well after adulthood, I had helped with sewing. Even making the costumes for an entire church’s Christmas play one year, down to the jeweled crowns of the wise men. But I never touched the sewing machine. I guess you could say I saw one too many flying needles as a child. My husband brought me a sewing machine home around 2009 or so . It was an old 60’s Magic Bobbin Singer. I really tried to like it, it was loud and ate the fabric constantly. I gave up and gave the machine to my mother in law. Interestingly enough, I ended up with that machine back, y’all it was the bobbin the whole time. But I didn’t know that then ! I put a note on that machine and donated it soon after receiving it back. It was around 2017 that my sister started wearing all of these beautiful clothes. For two years I was envious of her beautiful garments… then in 2019, I decided enough was enough. I went to the Walmart, and bought myself an inexpensive machine, a Brother, but it had a manual. I went to Samantha’s house after that for some pointers , and she gave me everything anyone could need to make plenty of garments. I brought it all home and spread it out on the floor , just awestruck on the things before me. I even took a picture to capture the excitement I was feeling. Now a few years later I need a whole room to contain my collection .

This is the picture I took that very first day !!

Well there you have it, you met all the people here at Appalachia Sews, we really would like to thank you for visitin’ with us . We’re new to all this technology stuff, but we really wanted to share and preserve some of our Appalachian ways with you. Our intention, with your help, is to just do what the women generations before us did, share our knowledge with you , and hopefully you with us. Mostly we’ll be sewin’ cause there’s nothing else like it ! Between garments , craft projects, and our newest adventures of learning to quilt, you can make anything you can imagine. And when we were growing up in Appalachia, a lot of times you made do, or did without. Growing up like that brings a wealth of knowledge, so don’t be surprised if’n ya see recipes, canning information, crochet, or even just sharing funny stories with y’all. Here, where we’ve been taught that idle hands are the devil’s workshop, from the cradle, we tend to do a lot of piddlin’. Hopefully we’ll make some new friends along the way !

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