Pattie's New Dress
When Pattie was a little girl, long, long
ago, many of the things that we buy now
from stores were made at home. There
were home-made carpets, and home-made
stockings, and home-made dollies, and when
Pattie needed a warm new dress, her Grandmother
"I'll spin the wool for it."
"And I'll weave the cloth," said Rachel, who was the oldest girl in the family.
"And I'll make the dress," said the little girl's mother, "by the new pattern that Miss Evangelina Page has just brought home from her cousin's. She was telling me about it yesterday, and it will fit Pattie I know."
The sheep had given the wool from their backs for Pattie's new dress. It was as soft as down, and as white as milk, and as beautiful as snow, so Pattie thought. Grandmother carded it fine and smooth, fastened it on her spindle and sent the spinning wheel whirling round.
"Zummmmmmmmm," sang the wheel as it turned, "Zummmmmmmmm." Pattie's Brother Joe said it sounded as if there were bees in the room. "Zummmmmmmmmmmmm."
"A hum and a whirl, a twist and a twirl, that is the way good yarn is spun," said Grandmother as she drew the thread out from the fleecy wool.
Pattie stood by to watch her spin, with a smile on her lips, and a laugh in her eyes, and more questions on the tip of her rosy tongue than Grandmother had time to answer.
"Will there be a pocket in my new dress?" she asked, "and buttons down the back? And oh, Grandmother, what color is it going to be?"
"I know," said Brother Joe who had just come in from the woods with a bundle of walnut bark, "the color of a—chestnut."
"Brown, brown, brown," cried Pattie; and sure enough, when her Mother dipped the yarn into the dye which she made with the walnut bark, it came out a beautiful brown just as Pattie had guessed.
Then Sister Rachel fastened the yarn into the loom and began to weave. The treadle went up and the treadle went down with a click and a clack, such a merry sound, and away sprang the shuttle to carry the thread under and over, and in and out. The cloth grew as if by magic in the loom, and when it was almost woven Pattie was sent to get the pattern.
She was delighted to go on such an errand and she told everybody she met about her new dress.
"Good morning," she said, "I am going to have a new brown dress. Mother is going to begin it this very day, just as soon as I get the pattern from Miss Evangelina Page."
Everybody was glad to hear about it too. Even the old pedler, who drove about from house to house selling pans and buckets, said he had not heard such good news since the day that Peggy Carter's speckled hen, down at the Crossroads, came off her nest with fifteen chickens.
The pedler had known Pattie ever since she was a baby, and he let her ride in his wagon all the way from her Aunt Susan's house to Miss Evangelina's gate.
Miss Evangelina Page had more patterns than anybody in town and nothing pleased her more than to lend them. As soon as she heard what Pattie wanted she put on her spectacles and got the pattern out of her top bureau drawer.
"Cousin Mary Ann Carter's Peggy had a dress made by this very pattern," she said, as she rolled it up in a neat little bundle and tied a pink string around it.
"Did it have a pocket?" asked Pattie.
"Yes, indeed," said Miss Evangelina, "Two of them, bound with red braid, and—oh, yes, you tell your mother that I say she must be sure to cut the ruffles on the bias."
Pattie did not know what that meant, but she said the message over and over and when she got home she had not forgotten a word of it. Rachel had taken the cloth out of the loom and Mother was all ready to begin the dress. Snip, snip, snip went her scissors sharp, and stitch, stitch, stitch flew her shining needle. Long after Pattie was in bed and fast asleep that night, she was busy sewing. Grandmother and Rachel helped too, and the dress was finished the very next day.
It had pockets, two of them, bound with red braid, and ruffles on the skirt, and buttons down the back like a row of red berries. Pattie wore it when she carried the pattern back to Miss Evangelina Page, and everybody she met had something to say about it. Jack Frost had come in the night and the wintry winds had begun to blow, but she did not care.
"I'm warm as toast in my new woolen dress," said little girl Pattie.