Another Recycled Heirloom


Alastair, 13 months 2010

This Madeira appliquéd outfit, a gift for my son’s first birthday in 1975, is one of the first heirloom garments I had ever seen. Nilda, a dear friend of Cuban and Puerto Rican ancestry, had purchased it in Miami, where clothing of this sort was readily available.

I was instantly smitten by the classic design and detailed embroidery,  as well as the absence of Sesame Street characters. On either side of the tiny red teddy bears are clusters of greenery and French knot flowers. The collar is embellished with a row of red cross stitches. Side tabs allow for a custom fit.  It is just sweet as pie.

Ryan, 21 months, 1976

Ryan wore the suit at every appropriate occasion.  With his little white high top shoes, he was adorable. Nilda told me that all of her aunts spent their days embroidering similar clothing for the babies in their family. I desperately wanted a Cuban/Puerto Rican auntie for my son! At that time, I didn’t sew at all, other than to make cafe curtains for our kitchen.  This garment led me into the world of  heirloom sewing, one that I have never left.

Along with a few other memorable pieces of clothing, this one piece suit was stored in my cedar chest for 31 years, until it fit–generously– Ryan’s son, Robert, when he was  14 months old.  Like his sister, Robert was a robust 10 lbs. at birth.  But he has his mother’s slender genes and was smaller than either his father or cousin at this age.

Robert, 14 months old, 2006

Looking like a clone of his father, Robert wore the teddy bear suit to his Aunt Rebecca’s wedding. I had a deja vu moment and was rendered almost teary-eyed as I stepped back in time with my own little tow headed boy.  Well,  that moment is where I was 20 minutes before the ceremony, when the bakery caterer brought me back to the present.  Calling from his cell phone, Mario lamented that he was lost  and could I please give him directions to our home.  From where, I asked?  He didn’t know where he was!#$%^&!!!!  He made me forget all about precious Robert and my own little boy way back when.   But that’s another story…….

Now, this same sturdy, sweet little suit is being worn by 14 month old Alastair. In his normal picture taking mood, he refused to smile, instead intently studying the garden statuary. After taking this photo, I was examining the garment, wondering just how many more little boys would wear it. And how many more I would be around to see.

Do you have any multi-generational garments in your family?  I’d love to hear about it.  As a matter of fact, I’d love to hear anything from anybody about anything.  I really wonder if anyone is reading this blog.

5 responses to “Another Recycled Heirloom

  1. Janice, I’ve got your blog saved on my front page and when I turn on the computer it is one of the first things I see. I’m totally hooked on your blog and would never miss reading a new post. I just don’t leave responses very often. I’m so happy to have found your blog. I had my sons in 1984 and 1986 and had some really cute Feltman Brothers and some other really nice things that I set aside for grandchildren, BUT when the basement flooded, they were all ruined and I had to toss them. I can remember being so upset and my husband and both boys who were teenagers by then thought I had totally gone crazy. They just didn’t understand. I still have no grandchildren (YET), but I’m working on a hope chest for that occasion!

  2. Thank you so much, Merry! This means a lot to me. I am so sorry about your ruined Feltman Brothers outfits–believe me, I really do understand. But have fun with your hope chest sewing. You can never have too much and will be so happy to have these things ready.

  3. Janice,
    I’m reading and enjoying your blog, which I discovered recently. I smock and sew for my 5 children, ages 14 years to 9 days old! (Typing with one hand) My Mom is not a “saver”, but I am; I have many little outfits that my kids have worn and I am saving for future generations. I also take tons of pictures; it’s fun to compare the kids at the same age in the same outfit. Keep up your great inspiration-we are reading and enjoying!

  4. I’m reading your blog! I’ve recently learned to smock, and I’m hoping to make an heirloom garment for our third son who is due in September.

  5. Debra Parker

    I ready your blog every day, and enjoy it very much. I’m sure there are many, many more out there!!

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