- Associated Press - Friday, May 13, 2016

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah (AP) - At 94, Helen Peterson soon could be a great-great grandmother.

But she still hasn’t given up on serving as a mother.

Her latest mothering reach goes clear to Africa. She is sewing dresses for young girls who she believes wouldn’t receive any new clothing if not for her handiwork, the Standard-Examiner reported (http://bit.ly/23HI63b).

“They need them,” she said. “I love to sew. I have the time to do it so I do it.”

Peterson is the mother of five children. One of them, Clinton resident Kris Evertsen, spends her days mothering her mother while Peterson takes care of others.

“When she was up at assisted living, it was a struggle,” Evertsen said of her mother. “She’s lived for 60 years in the same house. We made some arrangements so I could take time off work and be here during the day.”

Peterson spent a few weeks at the Mountain Ridge Assisted Living Center after she fell and hit her head last August.

It was at the assisted living facility that she discovered the sewing project. Another woman was sewing dresses at the facility and invited Peterson to join in.

Peterson hasn’t stopped since.

“Now that she can do something to help someone, she feels like she is being useful,” Evertsen said.

She’s now sewed about 90 dresses, generally about one a day when she’s working on them.

“My legs ache but … I do it anyway because I love it,” Peterson said.

Evertsen said her mother’s sewing has kept her going and has been healing.

Peterson has loved to sew most of her life. Evertsen said 10 years ago, Peterson sewed 100 quilts for children at Primary Children’s Hospital.

At 12, Peterson started sewing doll clothes out of her brothers’ old socks on a Singer treadle machine, and she became the family seamstress at 14.

“I made my mother a dress for Mother’s Day,” she said. “We all went to work as soon as we were old enough to do anything. She found out I could sew.”

With sewing getting her out of cleaning the house and cooking with the other girls in her family of 11, Peterson said her seamstress duties were increasingly enjoyable over time.

Some of the bigger projects she’s done included sewing wedding dresses for sisters and a prom dress for Evertsen.

These days, Evertsen pitches in, cutting out all the dresses for her mother to sew.

“Trying to keep up with all of her sewing is quite a job,” Evertsen said.

Keeping up with her goals of service also can be a bit overwhelming for Peterson too.

She said sometimes when she can’t sleep in the middle of the night, she sews.

When she shuts her eyes to pray, she can sometimes see her sewing machine coming at her too, Peterson said.

“I’ve sewed so much, I can’t get it out of my mind,” she said.

Evertsen said her mother has always been into crafts. Peterson said her assignment in her Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward for years was to come up for things for the other women to make during homemaking meetings.

“I spent a lot of time hunting up things to do that was different,” she said.

Now, Peterson works with scraps of fabric she has collected over the years as well as donations of ribbon and fabric to put items together for girls she doesn’t believe she will ever meet, she said.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner, http://www.standard.net

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