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 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.
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.