My Aunt Mary Rose stood less than 5′ tall and weighed under 100 lbs., but she was a force to be reckoned with. She was an accomplished needlewoman who created the many family keepsakes we treasure to this day. Every new baby in our extended family came home from the hospital in a bonnet and sacque knit with great expertise by our aunt. She set the standard very high, not only for herself, but for those whose workmanship she chose to inspect.
I began sewing in my early teens, beginning with simple dress patterns and gradually progressing to the most difficult Vogue Couture. Examining the exterior of my latest garment wasn’t thorough enough for Mary Rose. The dreaded “The inside should always look as good as the outside” was an oft repeated remark of hers. She would turn the piece inside out and check every seam. Her critique seemed seldom kind, but brutally honest. She would, in great detail, point out each and every flaw as I stood by dejected. However, my next garment, and the next, and the next were much improved because of my determination to please her…just once.
I have a vivid memory of me in my newly created pink wool Easter suit. I was now the mother of two. Aunt Mary Rose stood ramrod straight in front of me and looked me up and down. She unbuttoned my jacket, examining the bound buttonholes and the hand stitched lining. She smiled. “Beautiful! Just beautiful!” I have never felt such a sense of accomplishment as I did at that moment. Aunt Mary Rose approved! To this day, with each and every project I undertake, her words swirl around my brain. My attention to detail has served me well with quilt show judges. I ALWAYS strive for perfection thanks to what, I now realize, was constructive criticism from Aunt Mary Rose. Thank you for lessons well learned, dear Aunt.