Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cape Dresses

I watched with great interest as Mom carefully cut the purple fabric. She was making my first three piece dress suit and I was excited. I had not minded wearing my other dresses but to finally be able to wear a cape and apron made me feel just a little bit grown up.

It didn't take Mom very long to get it sewed and then carefully iron it pressing the pleats in the dress and apron so that they came to a point just above the hem. After she was done I hung it on the hook on my bedroom door. It was much to pretty to hide away in the closet. I wanted to be able to admire it till I could wear it to go to church the next Sunday.

It seemed Sunday would never come. This Sunday was going to be extra special because not only would I get to wear a cape and apron but it would also be the first time I would be allowed to sit with the girls in church instead of beside Mom.

Sunday morning arrived and Mom helped me get dressed. It was more complicated to try to get pins to close my dress neatly instead of the buttons I had been used to. Once everything was pinned to Moms satisfaction we were ready to go to church. I went into the church house with Mom and hung my bonnet with hers and followed her like usual to shake hands with all the women that were already there. And once that was done I went to the coat room where the girls stood waiting until it was time to file into the church room.

I was no longer so sure that this was such a great idea. I could see that the women had already found their usual seats. Mom smiled at me while Mahlon sat on her lap looking at a little book. I wished I would be little enough to sit on her lap instead of being dressed in an increasingly uncomfortable outfit and standing with all the girls. I was glad my friend Nancy was also there. She had started wearing a cape and apron and sitting with the girls a few months earlier, and seemed quite calm and relaxed.

As I glanced out the window I could see the bishop and ministers and a long line of men following behind them make their way slowly and solemnly toward the church house. My heart starting beating faster at the thought that soon it would be our turn to file in.

I stayed beside Nancy and followed her to our seat. Church went as usual but I couldn't concentrate on the preaching. The apron belt felt too tight around my waist and I looked forward to going home and changing into my old comfortable dress that fit loosely and didn't present the danger of being jabbed with a pin.

Once we got home I was disappointed when Mom told me to hang the dress carefully because I would need to wear it to school the next week. I dreaded the thought of having to wear it again the next day. But that was only the start. The following week she sewed several more suits and I had to wear them constantly. Growing up wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be. And life stretched out before me clouded with years of wearing uncomfortable dresses. Thankfully after several weeks I got used to them and life once again looked good.


  1. Ah, growing up always seems so appealing until you have to actually do it and follow all of the adult rules! I guess that's what makes being a teenager so uncomfortable and unsure.

  2. You make me remember back to the first time I wore the grown up outfit to church. I remmember being told by one of my sisters to not look at people in the eye and don't smile. Just keep a straight face and walk into the room. It was almost impossible not to look if people are seeing me. I peeped every now and then and of course everyone was looking or trying not to look. I am a LP and always drew a lot of attention that I despised. I just wanted to be normal size but that never changed, not even after 50+ years.

  3. Ahhh, the awkwardness of growing up gets us all in one way or another doesn't it?? I remember wearing stockings (nylons) and was looking forward to that until I actually did it and then didn't think it was so great either. Hope you're doing well ~ ♥

  4. Strange isn't it how something we anticipate so much is often never as we think it will be. it was interesting to read this and I thank you for sharing.

  5. I would never have made it through the teenaged years, sue to being poked full of am SO clumsy with that sort of thing...OW!

    Funny how stories almost always have a counterpoint -- I remember the horror of wearing "nylons," after thinking I couldn't wait to grow up and be dressed accordingly...

  6. Growing up is such a mixed bag of expectations and disappointments. I truly enjoy reading your blog!!

  7. You described that well. By the way, I've tried on Amish dresses before and they are *much* more comfortable than Mennonite capes, I assure you. You had it made and didn't know it!

  8. I only recently found your blog and started reading from the beginning. I live in the Netherlands and was surprised to sea the bedtime song in one of your first blogs. We have one exactly the same in Dutch:

    Ik ga slapen ik ben moe
    sluit mijn beide oogjes toe
    Here houdt ook deze nacht
    over mij uw getrouw de wacht.

  9. Thanks for your visit to my blog. I enjoy reading yours! I've never been able to imagine why pins are used instead of buttons, but to each their own.

    Have a blessed day!

  10. You really captured the mixed feelings of growing up. I see it in my kids too. They want to be there, and then they don't. Thanks for stopping by and visiting my blog. I've been very blessed by your stories.

  11. Growing up is never as exciting as we hope it to be. Just a little reminder that you are our feature for today over at Blabbing About Blogs!

  12. another comment!!!! LOL...I slipped over to your Friday blog..I think it was Friday??? anyway...the soup recipe...I have all the ingredients...gonna make it tomorrow LOL...we love soups...hubby and I do...and it is just the two of us right now!!! God Bless...hugs from Ora in KY

  13. Growing up isn't as easy as we percieve it to be when we are children. I really enjoyed reading about your first step into the grownup world.

    I've been poking around your site-it is really interesting.

  14. Oh my Yes - We all look forward to things when we are young only to find out that they could have waited a little longer.
    I would love to see the cape dress - I bet you don't have any pictures.
    Hope you are more comfortable now :D

  15. I've often wondered if the cape dresses were comfortable. I didn't know they didn't have buttons, I'd poke myself for sure. I really enjoy reading about your memories

  16. Hi,
    We have lots of Amish and Mennonites blessing our lives regularly.
    I have never understood why they don't use a more practical closure for their dresses! I've seen so many moms flinch when their toddlers climb up into their arms.
    I understand the desire to look plain and modest, but to me, pins instead of buttons, snaps, or zippers only looks less finished.
    I've asked some moms why they use the pins, and they just said "oh, that's just the style."
    Is that true? There is really no reason for this?
    It simply does not make any sense to me, and looks quite painful.
    I love these people, they've added so much rich texture to our lives, but this one thing has puzzled me for years!

  17. One thing I always wonder about was why did the men get to use buttons on their shirts but women had to use pins?? I am glad my cape dresses were made with sanps or buttons. Saved me from lots of pricky moments!!!! I always would worry about poking my babies if I had all those pins in my clothes.


Thank you so much for taking time to comment. I love hearing your thoughts.