A Happy Ending for My Old Drapes

You know that scene in the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews (Maria) sews up clothes from old curtains and, within a few short hours, all seven children have play clothes? It’s always bugged me. 

Sewing takes time. Who was watching the kids when Julie was measuring, drawing a pattern, cutting fabric, and fashioning necklines and elastic waists? I understand, of course, that it’s a story based mostly on truth and it was necessary to speed things along to keep the plot moving. I do that too. I don’t want to bore you with extra adjectives and sentences you don’t need. 

In regard to sewing, even I didn’t sit by my Nana for the whole time she made herself a dress. A dress that she referred to as a shift.

I just stopped in her room and visited to see how things were going. I played in her drawer full of notions to pass the time. I still have some of them — snaps, buttons, and old spools of thread.

I keep them in a plastic bin that I only open occasionally. When I do, the smell of her room emerges. It is the scent of my childhood. Somehow it has stayed fresh even though she died thirty years ago. (Which makes me hate plastic slightly less.)

Anyway, this scene from the movie has nagged me and is possibly a factor in why I saved some linen drapes for two decades even though my husband thought they were taking up too much space in the front hall closet.

“Why are we saving these?”

For twenty years I had no good answer. And was always jealous when I went to other people’s houses and hung up my coat in front hall closets that were full of space without drapes teetering from the shelf above. Closets that did not hold someday.

I just knew that my drapes had been barely used and I couldn’t even bear to donate them for fear someone else might throw them away. They would not know now how my Nana washed Ziplock plastic bags and left them folded in neat squares under the kitchen sink. 

My small miracle, in regard to the drapes, started with a Bon Appetit article that reviewed their chef’s favorite aprons. 

(I should note here that I found this article because I was looking for a uniform for when I returned to teaching. Something that would be washable, used only for school and with pockets for sanitizer, rubber gloves and other new teaching necessities. Something that would tolerate paint, marker and glue; something easy to wash and take loosely off my head in the event a child sneezed or coughed on me and I needed to change. Something cute to make up for the mask and sunglasses I’d be wearing. Something not too hot in ninety-degree heat, we’d be teaching entirely outside.)

In the Bon Appetit photo, there are two chefs in perfectly wrinkled linen aprons. The article describes them as Japanese style cross back, a cut of fabric that is flowy and provides ease of movement without shoulder straps that pinch or bunch.

Even better was how good they looked, how much they approximated a light summer dress with convenient pockets. 

This casually chic apron, understated and elegant, was going to make up for meeting children in a mask. I could let them watercolor me with this apron on. It would be cheerful and light and practical. 

And this charming linen apron was going to make up for the whole damn pandemic. 

I just had to have it like I had to have clogs when I was ten. And knickers when I was twelve and the one-piece jumpsuit thing in high school that seems to have come back in style. 

I needed that apron as desperately as I needed big hair in the 1980’s.

 I clicked on the link but it led nowhere; the article was a year old and the more I searched for copycats the more I realized Japanese style cross back linen aprons are a thing. An eighty-something dollar one if you can even find one. 

And even if I managed to convince myself it was worth it, everywhere I looked they were all sold out. That’s how I ended up on Etsy and then some Pinterest page with a sewing tutorial from an ambitious do-it yourselfer out in the midwest. She is amazing.

This was the moment my drapes had been waiting for. With my rudimentary sewing skills recently sharpened up through all my mask making, I was ready for it.

Those drapes are finally having their day in the sun.


(Image above by MJ Jin from Pixabay)

7 thoughts on “A Happy Ending for My Old Drapes

  1. As someone that used to love sewing and as a saver I love this piece. It brought back memories of learning to sew on my grandmother’s treadle machine and the lovely woman in my neighborhood who took me under her wing and taught me. I still love notions and especially button boxes that hold hidden treasures!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I realized I never read this story! I always look forward to them and anxiously await to read the next one. Somehow this amazing story ended up down in the email thread. I LOVE IT!
    See, it’s great you saved those curtains. They WOULD have a purpose!


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