My Legacy of Needle Arts

The Daughertys

I came across this picture of my great grandparents, Lenora and William Henry Daugherty, and one of their children. I’m thinking the child is their first, my great-aunt Alice, which would make the photo date about 1903.

Why post on the sewing blog? Ah—are you drawing conclusions? Yes. I found in my grandmother’s Journal a line about her mother: “Mama baked bread. She made most of our clothes. She was a good seamstress.”

Check out the workmanship of her dress, and the baby’s dress, in this photo.

Lenora and baby

Rather fashionable, but not ostentatious! And the baby outfit is nice–linen or cotton, do you think? I saw a reproduction of a vintage wrap-around dress pattern for a child included in the recent edition of Sew Beautiful. I would like to try it…if you do, will you let me know how it turned out for you?

My grandmother’s journal continued: “We kids still helped Dad with the farming. One Saturday morning in Feb 1920, we stripped the cotton boles [sic] from the plants and the next morning I couldn’t get out of the bed. I was so sick, dizzy, vomiting. I was coming down with the flu. The awful kind that killed so many people in 1918. It was called influenza. All of us had it. Mama was the last to get it and she had pneumonia and died.”

My grandmother’s dad didn’t take very well to being a young widower, and he committed suicide a year and a half later, leaving 8 orphaned children: “so we were scattered all over creation and another phase of our lives starts from there,” she wrote.

Gran's teak sewing desk, now part of my studio

“I can sew, crochet, tat, knit, embroider, hook rugs, latch hook rugs, needlepoint, and dabble in oil painting…I make a lot of my own clothes and used to make nearly all of the girls clothes. They didn’t seem to be ashamed to wear them. At least they made me think that. I have made six quilts and crocheted or knitted seven afghans, plus three baby ones…Now that I have finished bragging about myself and tooting my own horn, I will sign off.” –Ethel Daugherty Corant, dated March 1, 1982 (she died in 1995 at age 89).


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ethel Grogan
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:29:19

    Ethel sounds like she was a right talented lady. Did you watch Downton Abby? They got a new maid who is obnoxious and lazy. Her name is Ethel. All the other house staff were constantly shouting at her – “Ethel! Get up stairs now!” or somesuch thing. Sounded strange to my ear. Do you have that issue of Sew Beautiful? I need to take a lookie-see. I am about to embark on a French handsewing on the machine dress for Claire. Took a class in it but haven’t made anything since then, but my sister gave me her Martha Pullen books so I have a good resource to turn to. ;o} My momma was taught dressmaking by her grandmother and could make just about anything without a pattern. I used to be able to do that but am getting lazy and don’t want to though I usually change a pattern to suit myself.


  2. Karen
    Jan 09, 2012 @ 12:46:11

    What a beautiful post! Thank you so very much for sharing some of your family’s history with us.


  3. fionamaclachlanmorris
    Jan 10, 2012 @ 04:26:08

    What a lovely thing to own – and a beautiful way to write about it


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