Monday, July 9, 2012

The small dress

There was a time, perhaps one or two generations ago, that making your own clothes, or clothes for your children, was the thing to do. Perhaps done out of necessity or because of increasingly tight budgets, shorts were cut, dresses were stitched, frills were added, and family photos showing off small smiling children with brand new homemade clothes were taken. You may have had the same family photo – I know we did (against a fake backdrop of an autumn forest in all its yellow, gold and red glory, me in a beautiful handmade dress, beribboned and grinning into the camera).

I remember my mama sewing at night to make us clothes. She used small, finger like lengths of dressmakers’ chalk that was cold to the touch, and held pins between her lips as she folded and tacked and marked and fastened the long lengths of fabric. The dresses she made Kim and I almost always matched; and I remember how the fabric felt when we tried on our almost-done dress for the first time – slightly stiff from not being washed, but oh-so-lovely to spin around in.

Last week, my mama gave me two little dresses that I used to wear as a girl. They had the customary frills and bows and lace and ruffles, are impossibly cute and very sweetly vintage in appearance. I remember her making them; and I remember the way that the lace hem tickled my legs as I walked. And goodness, didn’t it just light a fire! I had Lyra up on a stool the next morning, trying on these little pieces of tangible memory, and measuring out just how I would have to adjust the pattern of the dresses in order to make new ones. I love the idea of my Lyra-Lou having a similar childhood memory, perhaps when she’s grown and gone with babes of her own – of her mama at the sewing machine, pattern pieces and long lengths of material fastened together with multicoloured berry pins, and the feel of a new, made-just-for-me dress.

Do you remember your mother (or father, aunt or grandmother) making clothes for you?


Ps. My apologies for the impersonal images of late; my camera has gone missing. I know it’s somewhere in the house, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it has been spied as treasure and hidden away by one of the kids…

Image from here.

1 comment:

MaudieB said...

How this takes me back to my childhood too :). My mum made everything I wore until I was about 10, maybe? She even made me Clydella undies!I wish I'd keep some of those dresses - they were beautiful. I loved the occasional trips to 'special' fabric store such as Johns, in Newcastle, to buy some lace or some other amazing trim. My mum was 83 when my daughter was born 22 years ago and she made all her nighties and smocked them as well as lots of other clothes until DD was 4 or 5. Thanks for reminding me of those lovely times.