Sewing face masks the other day, I got a strong feeling of peace, and I felt sure I was receiving a beyond-the-grave message from my mother, or maybe my grandmother or my Aunt Edith. What did these women have in common? They all taught me to sew.

My mother taught me the basics of operating her heavy old Singer machine, how to pin on patterns, and how to tie a knot in a thread. Grandma taught me how to blind hem and how to embroider. Aunt Edith taught me how to adjust a pattern to fit my body and how to put in a zipper. All three women gave me skills that I in turn passed on to my two daughters.

In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, sewing has re-surged in importance, and I was gratified that all three of us Bowen women could sew masks to donate to others. Some went to our church, some to Temecula Valley Hospital, some to our local homeless, and some to the Navajo nation.

The peace I felt leaning over my machine reassured me that I was doing the right thing (in spite of some naysaying posts that threatened to dim my enthusiasm) and that my female ancestors were looking on approvingly.

Four generations of sewing women from Grandma Hazel, through Betty and Edith, to me, and on to Amy and Pippa are connected by an unbroken thread of skill and generosity.

assorted color threads with case
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

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