Wednesday, May 11, 2016

From My Mother To Me

I am so happy to be a part of Victoria's "From My Mother To Me" series this year. It's such a special series, and I have enjoyed reading everyone's stories. I have always been very close to my mother. In fact, you could say that I've always been a bit of a "mama's girl", ever since I was very young. 


Check out our matching outfits! At least, I think they're matching. My mom is a trained seamstress, though once she finished "dressmaking school" (as she called it), she decided to sew for herself, for fun, rather than pursue a career as a seamstress. She made all sorts of outfits for my sister and me when we were younger, much like I am doing now -- though she did it much, much better. She also made some natty threads for herself, as you can see from the above ensemble. 

Now that I am a mother myself, raising my children in a country that is (somewhat) foreign to me, I can appreciate what my mother must have experienced raising my sister and me. She went to the US on her own in the late 60s, having studied English in high school and having saved up just enough money for a one-way ticket. She told her father that once she had earned enough money to buy another ticket, she would return to Japan. When I asked her about that, she said, "I guess I'm still saving up!" Ha. 


I remember trying on a beautiful silk blazer she had made, but even as a 16-year-old, I couldn't actually put it on all the way because my mother was such a tiny thing! I could barely get my arms in it! She also made several gorgeous dresses and trousers, but I think she had the most fun making children's clothes. I think she passed them on to friends and neighbors once we had outgrown them. 


She had her own sewing room with an old Singer machine, a workhorse. I was so fascinated with the treadle. I can still kind of hear the hum of the machine if I close my eyes and concentrate. So you'd think that I would have learned to sew from her. But, um...not really. 

As a seamstress, she was very aware of her body proportions and what worked best for her. She was quite a stylish woman back in the day, and I believe my taste in clothing was influenced by her style (though you wouldn't know it to look at me now!). I have to say that she did have a rough period in her 40s when she took to wearing track suits (see below), but we won't talk about that dark time -- and let's not even mention my haircut, ha ha!



My character has a lot to do with watching her in different situations as a child. She couldn't speak English very well when I was younger, but that didn't stop her. From her, I learned important lessons. About independence. About resilience. About standing up for yourself. About defending those who can't defend themselves. And about perseverance. And let me tell you, when it's 2am and you're sewing for a pattern test -- and you stay up "just a little longer" to unpick all the work that you did the whole evening because you really want to finish it, then you need resilience and perseverance. Or is it stubbornness?



See this outfit that I'm wearing in the photo? My mom didn't make it, but for some reason she kept it all these years (sorry, I'm not telling you how many) and sent it to me pretty recently. The elastic was yellowing, but the knit fabric was still in good condition. I didn't think the style was really something my children would ever wear, so I repurposed it, using part of it for the sleeves of the cool Moto Jacket by Jennuine Design



I love that I was able to use a dress that I once wore to make something for my little one. And the shorts were made with some nani IRO fabric that I got a while ago from our sponsor, Miss Matatabi. Go visit her shop and have a browse at all the lovelies there. On second thought, if you are on a fabric-buying freeze, you'd better not because it will be hard to keep to your resolution!!

Thank you, mom, for being there for me all the time. Thank you for making me the person I am today. And thank you for the wonderful child-raising advice, even if the only answer I get is "I have no idea what to tell you. You and your sister were never like that, ha ha!" Gotta love her.

Finally, thank you, Victoria, for having me on this wonderful tour! And now for the amazing giveaway!!








a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Be sure to visit the other blogs to read about everyone's stories celebrating motherhood! 



Monday May 9

Tuesday May 10

Wednesday May 11

Thursday May 12
As it Seams

Friday May 13
Little Cumquat

22 comments:

  1. Emi, this is so beautiful!! You look a lot like your mom and the love you have in your family so clearly shines through the photos!! Does your mom still sew? My mom also sewed with the old school Singer the one you had to push the giant metal pedal and I LOVED going through all the little compartments and boxes to find new treasures like buttons and new zippers. We had to leave that machine behind when we left Kazachstan but I have never forgotten it and one day when I'm rich and famous and have a huge house I must own one just like it again.

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    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Alisa! Unfortunately my mom doesn't sew anymore and when I asked her about her old Singer, she said she got rid of it because it was "too heavy" (we moved a lot when I was a child). I hope you invite me over to admire your machine when you are rich and famous! ;)

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  2. I love all these photos. Your mother must been so brave moving so far all by herself. I love that you reused part of your dress for your kids.

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    1. Thank you, Masha. I often thought she was so brave to move by herself, but she told me that she just didn't feel like she fit in anywhere when she lived in Japan so she was really excited to move to America!

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  3. Such wonderful photos and memories! My mom didn't sew but my grandma did. She made me 2 prom dresses and I'm sad that I don't have them anymore.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! I'm sorry I didn't see this until now. I think it's so lovely that your grandma made your prom dresses. I hope you have some photos of them somewhere, even though you don't have the dresses anymore <3

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  4. Now we know where all your talent comes from... It's genetic! You look so much like your mum. And how wonderful that you got to use some of the old clothes in your makes.

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    1. Bahaha! Hardly genetic, but thank you. I'm still stumbling my way through it all. My mom is pretty good with the crafts, though!

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  5. Love the pictures! That nani iro pocho dot still haunts me because I missed it. Haha.

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    1. Thanks, Emily! Yes, with the nani IRO, I think you just have to grab it when you see it or else live to regret it, haha. Well, you can always hold out hope that it will come back again someday... ;)

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  6. Oh I had no idea that your beautiful mom was a trained seamstress/dressmaker. How fun! I looooved to read her story and to see all the amazing photos. What a great series!

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    1. Right, you'd never guess, judging from how little I know about sewing, right?! Thank you for reading, Mie. I'm always happy to hear from you <3 And sorry I didn't see this comment until today -- gah!!

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  7. The pictures of you and your mom are so beautiful, as is the story. It must have been so hard for her to raise her children in a completely new country, but as I read it, she has managed it very well!

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    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I think she went through some tough times, but overall she's a very positive person, so I have to say my childhood was a really happy one. xxx

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  8. Loved reading your post Emi! I think your mother gave you the perfect gift...independance! (and so you choose all the perfect fabric combinations, haha!) xoxo

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    1. Hahaha, Nelleke! So true. So very true!!

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  9. What a lovely post Emi! Your mum seems a wonderful person and now I see where you got it from ;-)
    I also hear that from my MIL " my sun was never like that!" hahaha!! Apparently the bad genes are from my side! lol

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    1. That's so funny about your MIL! Hahaha! All the bad genes are from my side of the family, too, lol!

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  10. Thank you for sharing a little more about yourself and your beautiful mum. Also, unpicking something you have been sewing all night at 2 am is not stubbornness. It is craziness my friend hahaha

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    1. Just call me crazy, Jenya! LOL. Though now that I have had more sleep, I am inclined to call it insanity, too. Never again!!! I think...

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