Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Shirt off His Back

 When my daughter was almost a year old and we lived in San Jose, I had the crazy idea to sew wool shirts for the men in my family: My dad, my father-in-law, my husband, and two brothers-in-law. Five wool shirts, with flat-fell seams, buttonholes, plaids to match, etc. Not sure what I was thinking, but between naps and setting up the playpen next to my sewing table, I was able to finish all five shirts in time for Christmas. The two dads got navy blue wool, my husband got a warm brown plaid, and I have forgotten what the other two were made from. This was almost 40 years ago, so some of the details have faded.



When my dad passed away in 2001, I found the shirt I’d made for him still in his closet, twenty-some years later. I took it home with me and it’s been in my hall closet ever since. When my father-in-law passed away in 2007, we found his shirt tucked away in the basement. I couldn’t believe that both of these guys had kept those shirts all that time! I guess it was a hallmark of that generation to hang on to a garment forever if it was still wearable.

I’m getting ready to go on a trip where I will need to layer up with warm clothing. On the recommended list is a wool shirt. Now, my dad was on the short side–probably no more than 5′ 6″–so it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that the shirt fits me just fine. The sleeves are about half an inch too long, but otherwise, it’s a great fit. I took a close look at it tonight, and was amazed at what a good job I did on this shirt! The inside looks as nice as the outside. The leather buttons match perfectly, and the buttonholes turned out just right too. It’s a reminder of those bygone days when I had a lot of patience and determination when it came to sewing challenges. I’m grateful now that he kept the shirt and I found it when I did.

I think Dad  would be pleased to know that I’m taking him with me to a place he never got to see. I’ll take good care of our shirt.


The Case of the Reclaimed Redhead

If you were a fan of the old Perry Mason show, you might remember that the episodes usually had titles like this, with a clever (or not so clever) alliteration that let you know what was about to happen. This story doesn’t have anything to do with Perry Mason, and it’s not really a “case”Continue Reading

A Book Review

With thanks to Wendy Martin, editor of Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and Elizabeth Fishel, writer and mentor, for honoring my book with these very kind words. There Was a Fire Here: A Memoir “Have you ever asked yourself: if my house were on fire, what would I grab?” So begins Risa Nye’s elegant, hauntingContinue Reading