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Today I'm featuring another Honorable Mention entry from this year's Write a DearReader Contest.
Harikleia Sirmans is a Technical Services Librarian. Her job is to catalog materials and enter their publishing information in the library's catalog. She's one busy woman. "I used to work full time at the library for 13 years," Harikleia said, "now I work only three days a week. The rest of the week, I work from home with sewing for customers. I have my own business. My other business is writing. I've translated a Greek novel into English, and created the index to three film books. Currently I'm writing the biography of a Greek-American Professor Emeritus of Forestry. Fabrics and written words are my passion. So I do both."
Congratulations to Harikleia Sirmans, one of this year's Honorable Mentions in the Write a DearReader Contest.
I grew up in a small coastal village on a Greek island where tradition and practical living were important. Every young woman had to learn cooking, housekeeping, mending, and needlework so that she will be prepared to set up her own household when she married. All handmade items were her dowry, an absolute must-have.
So my sister and I spend most of our days cooking, washing and drying dishes, swiping and mopping tile floors, piling wood for the fireplace, washing and ironing clothes, mending holes on socks, sewing missing buttons on my father's shirts, feeding the chickens, milking the goat, knitting sweaters, crochet doilies, embroider tablecloths, and lots of other practical tasks around the house.
In the afternoons, we would relax by drinking Greek coffee, chatting, and doing our needlework. We would embroider tablecloths and doilies, knit, or crochet. Soon my mother noticed that I was very talented with needle and thread in my hands: I was very patient and detailed; I loved embroidering; the wrong side of the cloth looked as good as the right side; my stitches were meticulous; I was creative and sewed a plethora of stitches such as cross stitch, stem stitch, and crewel stitch. Counted cross stitch was my favorite. My aunt taught me how to knit. My first knitting project was a pink sweater with long sleeves. My mother taught me embroidering and crochet. My first crochet project was a red pillow case on fillet stitch.
When my cousin gave me a Barbie doll, I was in heaven! I used scrap fabric from old clothes to dress my doll. My embroidering skills came handy when I had to sew fabric pieces together. I used stem stitch to sew seams, whip stitch to keep seam allowances from fraying, and blanket stitch to make loops. I remember a brown coat I made for my doll. For buttons, I cut a match stick in tiny pieces and I sewed each piece in the middle of it on the coat. I was so proud of my invention.
I wanted to know more about sewing. My mother talked to a professional seamstress in our village who was willing to teach me the craft for 15,000 drachmas. I spent three summers with her. She taught me how to measure a client, cut the fabric, use a sewing machine, sew various stitches by hand, manipulate fabric, and much more. My teacher had a sewing machine with a foot petal which sewed only straight stitches. That's why she taught me to sew by hand a variety of stitches, most of which I knew from embroidering tablecloths. We made our own patterns just by measuring the client, cutting straight on the fabric, and fitting the garment three or more times on the client. I was a fast learner and I loved every moment I spent with her. When I "graduated," she told me that I was the best student she ever had.
At 17 years of age, I was finally confident enough to venture on my own sewing. My parents bought me a sewing machine and prepared a sewing space for me. I started with clothing alterations, then clothes from scratch. I also taught myself by taking apart old clothes and by observing the construction of ready-made clothes. I would buy the monthly Burda magazine, and study how to read and copy sewing patterns. I kept on sewing...
Now that I am an adult, I have my own home-based sewing business, lots of wonderful clients, and I even won an award for Best Seamstress. I continue to learn and grow my sewing skills. Sewing is my passion, my life. I sew like a maniac.
Honorable Mention, 2016 Write a DearReader Contest
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.
* This month's Penguin Classics book is THE CHARTERHOUSE OF PARMA, by Stendhal. Start reading now and be sure to enter the drawing for your chance to win a Penguin tote bag: http://www.supportlibrary.com/bc/v.cfm?L=drclassqqxqR1AFEAEE9442&c=CLASSICS