The Dress Grandma Made
New clothes were a rare treat in my childhood. I was happy with anything new or even hand-me-down that I could get.
Then, one day, when I was about eight years old, Margaret and Georgine, two neighbor girls, wore their new store-bought dresses with full circle skirts to our one-room rural school house. I longed to have such a dress. No matter how I tried to pull all the fullness in my skirts to one side of my seat, not one of my homemade feed sack dresses had the fullness of those magnificent circle skirts.
Soon after that, Grandma offered to make me a new feed sack dress. I chose a pink-flowered print and asked Mama if Grandma could make my new dress with a circle skirt. Mama reminded me that there wasn’t much material in one feed sack. But, as I waited impatiently for my new dress, I couldn’t help dreaming of twirling around in it and having the skirt flare out in a rippling circle around me.
I pictured myself standing on the floor grate of the school’s coal furnace while the rising air made my skirt float up like an open umbrella. Most of all, I pictured myself sitting at my desk with my skirt draping to the floor on both sides of my seat, just like Margaret’s and Georgine’s.
At last, the dress was finished. The drive to Grandma’s house in town to get it seemed longer than ever before. Then we were standing in Grandma’s kitchen. With a proud smile, she held up the flowered pink feed sack dress she had made so lovingly for me.
I swallowed a huge lump of disappointment as I spread the skimpy dirndl skirt. Although I was an average-sized eight year old, there hadn’t even been enough fabric in one feed sack for the entire dress. Grandma had to make the collar, sleeves, and midriff of matching plain pink fabric.
“How do you like it?” Mama asked, prompting me to give a grateful response.
I can’t remember what I said. I hope I thanked Grandma profusely. After all, her labor in making it for me was a gift of love. And it really was a pretty dress, even if it didn’t have a full circle skirt.