by Arlene Dijamco, SMAH Volunteer
IG: @allworldshealth
https://allworldshealth.com

My grandmother Lola was a dressmaker. That’s a great thing when you’re a girl growing up! At least twice a year, my two sisters and cousin and I would be measured for new dresses. Lola would say, “If you don’t know the size, just measure.” Around Christmastime, we would each get a box full of colorful dresses. Most had pockets to carry around our treasures.

Sometimes, when you’d expect a neutral white thread to sew on a button, there’d be a happy lavender thread. Lola always had fun with colors — fabrics, ribbons, buttons and more. Small things that can bring sparkle to your day. Lola showed me that.

She was a self-taught dressmaker who would take apart pieces of clothing to study the patterns. Then she’d alter them a bit and design fresh new ones.

As long as I remember, Lola made her own dresses. She didn’t care what other people thought about them. It was her look — mostly in the style of Filipino house dresses, which are called “damit pambahay” in Tagalog. Every one of them was beautiful, comfortable and Lola’s own.

When we were little, we would take her scrap fabrics and make outfits for our Barbie dolls. We’d do that for hours. Sure, we got quizzical and fascinated looks from our friends. But it never got old. And now, during this cocoon time when time is warped and I’m suddenly homeschooling my daughters, I get to add the magic of sewing to the curriculum!

As far back as I remember, Lola made her own dresses. She didn’t care what other people thought about them. It was her look — mostly in the style of Filipino house dresses, which are called “damit pambahay” in Tagalog. Every one of them was beautiful, comfortable and Lola’s own.

When we were little, we would take her scrap fabrics and make outfits for our Barbie dolls. We’d do that for hours. Sure, we got quizzical and fascinated looks from our friends. But it never got old. And now, during this cocoon time when time is warped and I’m suddenly homeschooling my daughters, I get to add the magic of sewing to the curriculum!

It started first with the call to make masks by SMAH. Like many, I signed up on this grassroots group’s first weekend. I took out (and dusted off) the sewing machine tucked in the back of a closet. Good thing that using one is like riding a bicycle. I’m still a novice, but knowing how to cut and sew basic stitches can take you far.

One by one, each of my four girls got involved. They were a bit nervous at first. But the excitement of using a foot pedal and creating something new was intriguing. After a few days, they started asking for their own sewing machines!

It’s so empowering to be able to make things out of leftover fabrics. What was old transforms into something new and even more beautiful. Which is what is happening to all of us now: We are changing, evolving and transforming together. We are connecting on new levels. We are coming together to create in times of need. We are resilient and colorful and all part of this beautiful fabric of the universe.

I hope that these colorful masks we’re making bring a little sparkle to someone’s day, just like Lola showed me.

Special thanks to the donors of this special material! Huge air hugs to all hospital workers and all those on the front line. 

And Happy Mother’s Day to all! This is a day for everyone to celebrate whether or not you are a mom. We all have moms, grandmas, mother-figures and/or strong women in our lives. Let’s give love and cheers for that.

Lots of love,

Dr. Arlene Dijamco