Jean sews through social isolation

The orders to stay home during the pandemic shut down the sewing group at Marrable Hill Chapel as it did at many others. Stacks of fabric, boxes of thread, bags of lace, rick-rack and bias tape sat idle on shelves. A few members of the Thursday afternoon sewing group had taken home projects to finish before the next week’s sewing. The quarantine kept us from going back.

That did not bother Jean Tedford. She pulled fabric from her own stash and kept on stitching.

When I talked with her, she had finished sewing a few pairs of shorts and wanted to sew little dresses to put in the Operation Christmas Child boxes. Considering her health conditions, I went to church, pulled fabric for dresses and grabbed lace and trim to deliver to her to supplement her fabric.

It wasn’t enough. That woman sewed up a storm! Every time I talked with her, she said she needed more rick-rack, fabric and lace. She turned simple sun dresses into party dresses.

Every dress had coordinating borders, ruffled lace and/or rick-rack. “I am running out of these colors of rick-rack,” she said after she finished 20 dresses.

I sorted through my notions and those at the church. It wasn’t enough. I checked at the fabric section in town. No sewing machines, racks of thread yawned with empty spaces. Fabric included Halloween leftovers at full price. The demand for homemade face masks and other medical sewing projects had cleared the shelves.

Back at church I pulled more fabric. The Union County Extension Office and El Dorado Connections received fabric donations for volunteer projects such as the face masks. I collected bundles of fabric and shared them with masks makers who sewed and donated masks. I looked hard and long at some beautiful yardage. “Would it be okay if we used some of this to make dresses to give through Operation Christmas Child boxes?”


By the time I delivered the fabric, Jean had completed 35 dresses. Her eyes glowed with pleasure. “Oh my!” she said and began matching strips of complimentary colors with the bigger pieces. “I need more rick rack. I don’t have these colors.”

Maybe not the colors but she did have a heap of dresses in various sizes covering her couch.

Desperate, I put out a plea for more rick rack on Facebook. Debbie Langford and others pulled a pile of rick rack from their stashes.

Jean sighed happily and sorted colors.

I packed up the 52 dresses to take to church until we packed OCC boxes.

A week later, we chatted, “So how many dresses have you finished now?”

I have seven more done.”

Wow! How many do you do in a day?”

Ohhh, I can make about a dress and a half in a day,” her eyes twinkled.

You must be sewing all day.”

Well I was a bit tired Sunday, so I didn’t do any,” she said regretfully.

It is okay take a Sabbath rest,” I assured her.

She agreed, but her mind focuses on the stacks of fabric laid out, cut and awaiting her. Jean imagines little girls’ happy faces when they receive the pretty dresses. “I wish I could be there and see it,” she sighed.

Marrable Hill Chapel originally had a goal of over 100 dresses for this year’s boxes. I thought the quarantine would kill our goal.

I thought wrong. With no other activities to attend, Jean’s days of avid stitching guarantee we will have enough. Hurrah for Jean and her sewing machine. She is making it happen while staying at home and keeping healthy.