Dresses from the Motherlines

Growing up in sunny Southern California, we learned to look to the future, to the next wave. But as a kid I ached for stories from my past.

I spent afternoons paging through the Conlon Family Album, studying old photographs. My mother’s handwriting upon black pages.

My favorite photos were—the dresses. Dresses that belonged to my Nana, Ana Julia—Dresses adorning my mother, Mary, a bathing beauty, before she married and had children.

I loved the craft of those dresses, how they draped upon those womanly bodies, the dancing threads beholding bonds connecting mother and daughter.

Few actual stories got handed down from my Motherlines. Although my mother did tell me that Nana once sewed for her a gorgeous suit that fit like none other.

Our sewing machine sat in our family room forever.

It had been a gift from Nana to my mother upon her wedding engagement in 1949.  Then Nana’s sewing machine came west when my parents moved from New York to Los Angeles.

Nana’s sewing machine got passed down me to after my mother died in the year 2000.

I had grown up watching it—that machine looked like a metal battleship waiting for action.

Then I started making my own dresses starting age 12. Working with fabric, my body came alive in unique fashions. Each dress yelped with the possibility about living the life of a creative woman.

Reminding me of the dresses that came before, the secret bonds, the quiet remainders of the Motherlines.