TBT: Tacoma version

Because I’ll be in Tacoma this weekend, I thought my Throwback Thursday ought to show me when I lived there, Back In The Day, when I was still Laurie Richardson.  And this is one photo where you should be glad for both washout and fading, because the color of that dress was truly blinding:

Laurie 1970

This was taken in the garden of the house on 119th Street in south Tacoma, a couple of blocks from Pacific Lutheran University.  It was around the time of my graduation from Franklin Pierce High, in 1970, just before I migrated back to my native country of northern California. The event I’m doing Saturday morning is not far away, at The Lakewood Playhouse, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd, at 10:00.

Like almost all of my clothes at the time, I made the dress, because it was cheaper that way. Now?  Things cost way more to sew by hand–and that’s even before you work in the cost of some of those computerized sewing machines.  Who among you remembers sewing your own clothes?  Do you still?

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  1. Merrily Taylor on September 4, 2014 at 5:46 am

    Aww, Laurie, you were so cute! I had a number of dresses like that and of course my mother thought I was crazy. I also had versions that had long sleeves and a scoop neck, but which barely covered one’s rear – they were called “angel dresses.”
    I never sewed my own clothes because I had a traumatizing experience in Home Ec (let me just say that the teacher could have taught at Hogwarts, and NOT in a good way). When I survived it, largely by sneaking my dress out to have my mother help me, I swore I would never touch a sewing machine again, and I didn’t. On the other hand, my mother DID make a lot of my clothes and I had some cute things.

    • Beth Jersey on September 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Hi Merrily,

      Ha! I thought I was the only one traumatized by Home Ec. I sewed an orange corduroy skirt that I wore exactly once. It was hideous. I was even worse at cooking. To this day I cannot sew a straight line, but I can cook pancakes.


  2. Lori Estey on September 4, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Love the picture! I also sewed all my clothes and had dresses like this one!

  3. Deborah Wright on September 4, 2014 at 5:56 am

    I make my own clothes now when there’s something I want that I cannot find any other way. But I wore a homemade dress to a high school dance and was the only one to do so. Surprising in 1977 I think. I still love to sew though, so I make a lot of other things, including quilts.

  4. Mary Lou Lawson on September 4, 2014 at 6:23 am

    I learned to sew at the YWCA-and made something from the same pattern I think-only mine was belligerently yellow with black. Ouch.

    My mother made all my bridesmaids’ dresses, and I made the suit-skirt,vest and jacket-for my Med school interviews. Got in too. Hated surgery.

  5. Jan Collins on September 4, 2014 at 7:04 am

    I love your dress! I used to make things up in my head and sew them by hand…a flannel nightgown for my little sister. She said I liked whatever I got for Christmas, bout I liked the night gown you made the best because you made it for me! I was so happy she said that, made me feel almost as good as the fact that my mother, who still thinks I’m a screw ball with the worst taste in clothes, actually wore the wool skirt I made for her, entirely by hand. I didn’t have a sewing machine until I was in my 30s, and I’ve never learned to use patterns….make an awful lot of curtains and pillows though!

  6. Wendy Martin on September 4, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I made my own senior prom dress 1971 . Sewed many of my clothes then for the same reason. As one of six children, mother made the girls’ clothes and I took over my own as early as possible, since our tastes definitely clashed. Still sew on the machine I bought before the 70s were through, things, not clothes.

  7. Deborah on September 4, 2014 at 7:17 am

    I love the colors of your dress. I graduated in 1970, too. I’ve always like what my dad called “loud” colors. Yes, I made all my own clothes in high school. They were dresses, of course. Girls were not allowed to wear pants to school for several years after I graduated (central Illinois). My sisters benefitted from the change. I still make a dress when I need one because I am a challenge to fit. I made my wedding dress. I found wonderful fabric that was white sheer with embroidered red and green design all over. My mom started teaching me to sew when I was six. At 10 I made a gathered skirt with a set-on waistband for 4-H. In Home Ec. I finished projects quickly then said, “Now what do I do?” Thanks for the pic!

  8. Elizabeth Copley on September 4, 2014 at 7:42 am

    I looked at that picture and had a flashback of a very thin Momma Cass. I think she wore that very same dress and copied your hair. I used to sew all my own clothes, but as you say, it is more expensive to do so now. I mostly sew quilts and things for my grandchildren.

  9. Heather Pouschine on September 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

    I remember sewing my own clothes in grade school and junior high, but I had way too much academic work in high school and college to continue.

    I took up sewing again gradually. When my husband & I bought our first house, I looked into having draperies made and nearly fainted at the cost – so I sewed my own. I actually did save big bucks on that one. When my daughter wanted to dress up for Halloween, I sewed her costumes, mostly for modesty reasons as I think a four year old slut is out of bounds. When she started figure skating, I sewed her competition costumes – again, saved a lot of money there as competition costumes start at around $1000 and my versions were in the $150 range.

    But the sewing bug bit me. I now sew about 90% of my own clothes, excluding underwear and athletic gear. I do not sew to save money, it really is more expensive to sew for yourself than just picking up a tee shirt at Walmart, but in order to get the exact garment I want, with the color, style and most of all, fit that I want.

    Plus I belong to a truly hilarious sewing group here in the Bay Area. They are my sisters in spirit, and oh boy, do we ever have a blast when we meet.

  10. Carol on September 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Wow, that picture really stirs up some memories. I loved sewing my own clothes up until a couple of years ago and now I cannot make myself sit in front of a sewing machine. In the 70s though I liked to buy used clothing at charity shops and cut them up and make them into new things. Actually, I was still doing that until a couple of years ago! It’s a cheaper way to make clothes than buying brand new fabric. I love the dress Laurie. You are still just as beautiful as you were then.

  11. Meredith Taylor on September 4, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Love this print, too. I managed to make three things and bailed out. Hemmed one of those angel dresses Merrily described and it took a hundred years! but I still have it.

  12. Lynn on September 5, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Well, that photo brought back a lot of memories…yes, I sewed my own dresses back then (early 70s) — mostly from Indian bedspreads, which were cheap and had JUST the right amount of fabric for a long, long-sleeved, scoop-necked dress like that. I even made a friend’s wedding dress for her that way — and then crocheted a hat for myself out of crinkly gift-wrap ribbon — looked like straw when it was done!

    Thanks for the memories.

    • Margaret Wood on September 5, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Oh, Lynn, two of my favorite dresses were made from Indian bedspreads, one in shades of blue and one in gold and browns. They were cool and comfortable in the hot Fresno summers and came out of the dryer ready to wear, before permanent press. I also sewed drapes and slipcovers. The last slipcovers were for two little love seats in the library corner of my first grade classroom about 1975..

  13. Laraine on September 5, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Beautiful dress, young lady! Good job of the sewing! Yep, I sewed quite a few things over the years until I foolishly sold my old machine in the mistaken impression I’d pick something better up soon. Hasn’t happened, so, I’ve not sewn in years, other than simple hand repairs. DayGlo was good. I wouldn’t mind it again, although maybe not the brilliant orange from head to toe that I may have worn through my freshman year of university . . . .

  14. Susan on September 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    That photo was a real flashback to my high school and college years! I certainly do remember the hippie “flower child” look of the early 1970s. I made all of my dresses for high school (no pants allowed on girls until after I graduated) and continued to sew some in college, but academics took priority. After graduation, in the mid-to-late1970s, I used to sew outdoor gear from kits (Frostline and Holubar) including a down vest and a down jacket, gaiters, and a tent. Now, as you say, fabric and patterns have become so expensive that my sewing is limited to alterations and repairs of purchased garments.

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