For more than 80 years, a common thread has been woven through Avis Stradley’s life: sewing.
“I first learned in 4-H when I was young. The first thing we learned to do was darn a pair of socks with a hole in them. Our instructor couldn’t find a pair with a hole already in them, so she cut one of her daughter’s! We got it stitched back up,” said Avis. “I took two years of sewing in school. We made blouses and skirts. A group of us wanted to take another year of sewing, and the teacher said she’d never done that, but she agreed! We ended up learning how to make pillow cases because that’s something you’ll need in life.”
Avis made most of her own clothes, some from feed sacks during the depression. When her six children came along, she made their clothes,too—with an exception.
“I made clothes for my five girls, and my son was upset that I didn’t make his clothes. So I got some purple checked fabric, leftover from one of his sister’s dresses, and made him a shirt. He didn’t ask me to make him clothes after that!” said Avis. Avis made formal dresses for her daughters and two wedding dresses. She was also a member of Eastern Star and made dresses for other women in the group according to the color of their star point.
“I made a purple jacket-type shirt several years ago, to have a little something to wear over my clothes when I go to Eastern Star meetings,” said Avis. “I always loved sewing. I always have. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I was done. I also helped my daughters learn to sew. One of the girls was taking sewing in school and already knew how to sew zippers. That teacher made her rip it out and do it several times just to prove it! She never liked the dress afterward.”
Avis worked for Western Insurance Group for 27 years and, after retiring, she found time to do alterations. Avis is blessed with 20 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.