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When I was 14, my mother asked me if I’d like to learn to sew. I had a couple neighbors: Mrs. Stewart lived across the street from us. She’d been a lifelong sewer. Then Mrs. Jefferson was two doors down from us, and she worked at a menwsear factory. I was very lucky, in that the two ladies who taught me to sew never gave me any warnings about, “Well, don’t ever sew a Vogue pattern because it’s too hard,” or “You’re going to have trouble with that.” They just didn’t hold my hand too tight. Sometimes, I’d go downtown on a Saturday and just sit for hours and plow through the Vogue pattern books, and any of the other ones, because I just loved fashion. I think I got that from both my parents and my grandmother because they were really snazzy dressers.
When I was 16, my cousin Kim, who was 20, was going to get married. So the family decided that they weren’t going to go purchase a wedding gown, and that I would make the wedding gown. Me, being me, I said, “Oh, okay!” One of the ladies that my mother worked with attended the wedding. After the wedding, she said to my mom, “Well, I guess you all decided that, after all, you had to go buy the wedding dress for Kim; you didn’t have time to make it.” My mom said, “No, Pam made that dress.” And she just about passed out because she could not believe that I had made that dress. I guess the benchmark of good sewing for some people was the fact that that zipper was in just straight down her back. And I do remember that zipper was in just right. So I guess I did a good job.
I have always loved making jackets. That’s really my favorite thing to make. And anything like custom shirts, or pants, or skirts. Anything that has a precision quality to it, I’ve always been attracted to.
I know that there are a lot more beginning sewing teachers out there, and I’m not very good at that. What’s more interesting to me is to teach somebody who has a bit of knowledge, and to give them more information. My teaching style is pretty much to see where their strengths are; where I can help them to be stronger; to have more confidence in what it is they’re attempting to make; and to never tell a person that they can’t sew something, or to be afraid of something, or to never sew that particular pattern. Nobody ever did that to me. And I would never think to do that to anyone else because you never know what anybody is capable of. Anyone can take a class with you and do what you ask them to do at every command. but when I really know I’ve done a great job is when they come back and say they’ve made another one, and they’ve done just as well as they’ve done in class with me.