THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

June 12, 2006

Ritual Cloth – Judy’s Beautiful Dress

Filed under: Musings,Pattern Reviews,Ritual Cloth — Gorgeous Things @ 12:00 pm

by Diva Ann, GorgeousThings 

Before I start, let me give you a little background. I teach sewing classes for adults in my hometown. I love my students, and I try to keep in touch with them and let them know that they can always call me if they have any question. I also have been very involved with the Winchester Hospital Breast Care Center (the BCC for short). Every October, the BCC holds a black tie fundraiser. Since I’m on the board, I go to the fundraiser. Last year, I could not find a dress anywhere, so two weeks before the gala, I decided to make a dress. This is when it’s a good thing to be a Sewing Diva. I decided to make Folkwear Patterns’ Flamenco Dress:

Now, being a Sewing Diva, my stash of fabrics is pretty extensive. But this beast requires 11 yards to make. Most of my fabric is in the 2 to 3 yard range. So off to shop I planned to go. I decided that I would go to the local fabric store on Monday. The Saturday before I was set to shop, I got a call from one of my students, a lovely lady named Judy. She was having trouble with her machine. I tried to help her fix the problem over the phone, but it was no use. After 20 fruiltless minutes, I was getting frustrated, and she sounded close to tears on the phone. I had to leave, and I told her to get out her manual and see if she could get it working. If not, call me on Sunday.

On Sunday I got a call from Judy. She was in tears. She couldn’t get the machine to work, and (this is the kicker) she tells me that her fingers are numb from the Chemotherapy. Whoa, wait a minute – Chemo? This is the first I have heard about this. She was healthy when she was in my class! It turns out she had been undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the Winchester Hospital BCC for several months, and after her sessions, she would come home and sew pillows and bags to take her mind off her pain and the disease. I felt terrible. All frustration and negative feelings drained right out of me. I told her I would come over the next morning and get her machine fixed before I went shopping.

So the next day, Monday, I went to her house and sat down with her and fixed her machine. It only took a little while, and she showed me some of the things she had been making. They were all works of art. It was heartening and heartbreaking at the same time. She told me that sewing was what keeps her sane. I told her about the dress I was making for the Gala, and as I left her house to shop for my fabric (in a very humbled mood, I gotta say), Judy said to me, “Make it a beautiful dress for me, will you Ann?” I nearly started bawling then and there. So Judy, here is a picture of your beautiful dress:

Judy’s Beautiful Dress:

Of every item of clothing I have ever owned (including my wedding dress, which I didn’t make), I don’t think any of them meant as much to me as this dress. It was worth every stitch, and each thread is dedicated to Judy and the women like her who fight breast cancer.



  1. Ann, that is such a beautiful story. Oh, the things we take for granted. I’m sure you think of Judy everytime you look at this dress!

    Comment by Gigi — June 12, 2006 @ 2:09 pm

  2. Humbling…
    thanks for the lovely story

    Comment by Kathleen Fasanella — June 12, 2006 @ 3:21 pm

  3. An aria in fabric.

    Comment by Mary Beth — June 12, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  4. Ann, I was moved to tears by this lovely story. Judy must be so proud of you, and thank goodness there are wonderful people like yourself in our world. You are a vision of loveliness in your gorgeous dress!

    Comment by Anonymous — June 13, 2006 @ 5:31 am

  5. thanks

    Comment by sue v — June 13, 2006 @ 11:48 am

  6. clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap I luv U !

    Comment by Phyllis — June 13, 2006 @ 7:41 pm

  7. Beautiful story and gorgeous dress, thanks Ann.

    Comment by Els — June 14, 2006 @ 3:25 am

  8. That is such a moving story. Ann you are a wonderful person to give so much of your talents to others. We never know our impact until stories like this come up.

    Comment by Nneka — June 15, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  9. Bless you Ann! I do have a question though – exactly what is ritual cloth? I didn’t see an explanation anywhere, or did I miss it? Thanks.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 16, 2006 @ 1:26 pm

  10. Never mind . . . . I just scrolled thru and found the ritual cloth meaning. Just didn’t see it the first go ’round! Such a memorable story and what a tribute to your student. As a BC survivor of 2 years, I can appreciate it.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 16, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

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