The Case for Homemade Clothes

Diane Helentjaris
8 min readJun 3, 2023

Balancing needs, time, love, and money

Handsewn Toddler Dress by Author. Photo by Author.

My luggage was a brown paper bag and it held only one item, my nightie — all I needed for my weekend with my grandparents. Their home in Dayton was an I-house, so-named because many of the original builders were from Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. Indiana was only thirty-five miles to the west. Two stories high, only one room deep, it had a small, covered porch attached to the last room, the kitchen. Multicolor asphalt siding climbed half-way up the front. Modest as the house was, it had sheltered many. Neat, tidy, with well-tended flowers in the yard, two dogs, shelves of houseplants, and the aroma of beef and noodles, the house on the corner of Second Street and North Jersey epitomized homelife.

In those days, after the GIs came home from the War, housing was scarce. Many doubled up. For a time, my grandparents opened their home to a boarder, a young woman named Rose. Other times, my great uncle Claudie lived with them. I was their “weekend boarder,” spending most weekends with them. My teenage aunts, Shirley and Betty, still at home, made me their pint-sized mascot. They took me to the movies to see Pat Boone and Elvis, drove me in Shirley’s convertible to the drive-in restaurant and bought me hamburgers wrapped in white paper. They teased me and told me outrageous fibs. Saturday mornings were set aside for housework as…

--

--

Diane Helentjaris

Writer with a love of the overlooked. Author of the historical fiction novel The Indenture of Ivy O’Neill,.www.DianeHelentjaris.com