When I was little, my mother had a Singer sewing machine – a treadle one, worked by the feet, and it was on a treadle machine that I learned to sew. At highschool, we were taught sewing and had to make a dress one year, including making the pattern for it. Only the girls, of course – the boys did what I considered interesting stuff like woodwork and metalwork. I envied them because I hated sewing and never thought I was any good at it.
Unfortunately, as a teenager and young adult, if I wanted to have nice clothes I had to make them. There was no money for anything else. I even made my wedding dress and veil.
When the children were young, I was still making clothes, theirs and mine, but I still hated sewing. It was with infinite relief that I noticed the world was beginning to change, and it was cheaper to buy ready-made things. I don’t own a sewing machine any more, and I am delighted.
Anyway, I was somewhat bemused when I discovered that my younger daughter coveted my 70s clothing, especially the ones made of ethnic materials – hand-woven Thai silks, Kelantanese embroidery, hand-painted batiks and so on.
And much more than a little bemused when she wore one to a pre-Oscar party in L.A. not so long ago and had people wanting to know where she had obtained that wonderful dress of handwoven silk…
Being my daughter, she took much pleasure in looking Hollywood’s golden girls straight in the eye as she told them, “This? Oh, my mother made it back in the seventies…”
I missed my vocation. Thank goodness.