Saturday, November 05, 2005

College sewing project for a language major

Colhecon was the name of Manchester College's home economics club. The description in the 1958 Aurora says: "Each of the 99 members of this club gain through its activities personal poise, social development an interest and a growing knowledge and appreciation for the various phases of the domestic arts. In addition to bi-weekly meetings which concern almost every phase of homemaking--such as floral arrangements, interior decorating, and personal grooming--specific activities include an annual banquet, candy sale, a coffee hour at Homecoming and a dress review." Imagine my surprise when I found out today I was a member. I do vaguely remember going to a meeting where a Merle Norman rep showed us how to apply their products. I didn't wear make-up until about 1979, and I walked into a Merle Norman store and bought some. So I guess it worked. I'm still using Merle Norman.

Here I am, third row from the front, third from the left, sitting next to my roommate, JoElla, who actually was a home ec major, or whatever that degree was called in the 1960s. She went on to get a master's at Purdue and is a vice president of a consumer testing firm in Seattle.

JoElla was my cheerleader and coach for the dress in the bottom photo. She assured me that the reason the modern woman sewed was not to save money (I'd spent a small fortune on the beautiful cotton fabric, zipper, notions, and a linen fabric for a jacket in a solid color) but to have better quality than the off-the-rack dress. I cut this dress out in the laundry room of the old Oakwood Hall (1898-1993), but I don't remember how I sewed it. Perhaps there was a machine in the building for community use.

Old Oakwood Hall, Manchester College, Indiana

I do know I took it back home with me at Easter break and my mother helped me finish it in time to wear it to church. Especially, I needed help with the lined, linen lavender jacket. She probably did all of that. The cotton was silky smooth, the colors were white background with pink and lavender lilacs. Here's a photo of Mom and me with "our dress" taken about a year later after I'd transferred to the University of Illinois. The event was "Mother's Day" May 1959 at McKinley Hall. Notice, I'm about 20 lbs. heavier than in the photo of me working on "my favorite dress." The cooks at McKinley were fabulous.

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