My sewing inspiration

Today is Mother’s Day here in the UK, and although I am not a mother myself, I am lucky enough to have one.  Sadly, I can’t spend today with her, because she lives thousands of miles away, so I feel a bit left out of all the Mother’s Day goings on around me.  I thought what better way to create my own celebration than by honouring my own lovely Mom, my early sewing and crafting inspiration.

As far back as I can remember, Mom was sewing: dressmaking, quilts, embroidery samplers…  When I was little, she would make us clothes, and I used to love watching her sew.  She produced some wonderful examples of 70s fashion (this is about 1974 or 75):

Patchwork maxi skirt anyone?

I think she also made the frilly blouse I’m wearing in this picture, although I’m not sure about my brother’s trousers!  She did make my Kermit the frog glove puppet, for an early ballet exam, when we had to do a dance of receiving a lovely box, opening it and then dancing with our doll / puppet.  I loved that Kermit!

I was a bit ungrateful sometimes though.   My Mom is American, and was not a fan of the nylon which was all-pervasive in 70s British school uniforms.  Despite what must have been hours she put in to making things for me, as a child I didn’t fully appreciate it (of course). I desperately wanted the nylon socks and pants with pictures on them that all my friends wore, and I felt a bit hard done by that my school summer dress was slightly different than the shop bought ones because it had a round collar rather than a pointy one.

I wish I looked like her!

Here I am with my primary school best friend Ailish – I wonder where she is now! – at our First Communion in 1977.  Mom made my dress, and I think my veil and little pouch thing too.  I did love this dress, but of course because Ailish had  a short sleeved, shop bought one (and don’t you love her collar?), I was a bit envious of hers!

My Mom hated knitting, but still she laboured over a school cardigan for me.  Sadly, I don’t think I ever wore it to school, although I do remember trying it on and hating the wool on my skin (I still can’t bear it).  Who knows how long it must have taken her, and her general dislike of knitting meant her tension was so tight that by the time she finished the cardigan, it was too small.  Even though she hated knitting, she taught me when I was about 6, and I have loved it ever since.  Now, I can well imagine how disappointed she must have been to make such an effort, only to have it rejected.  Sorry!

Around 1978, my ballet school put on a production of the Wizard of Oz, and I was a chorus line flower.  My lovely Mom outdid herself, and actually made this tutu, which I still have in a box somewhere although it is rather faded.  She made the flower headdress too – I remember the petals were cut up pieces of a plastic lampshade covered in the satin.  I’m glad I can honestly say I was so proud of my tutu – at this time I was convinced I was going to be a ballerina, so this was my complete fantasy outfit – apart from the fact it had to be blue rather than white.  This picture makes me smile – we had to go along one day after school to have these pictures taken, and I remember so clearly thinking I would look much cooler and better in my woolly navy school tights rather than my ballet ones.  Wrong!

So today I celebrate and say thank you to my Mom.  I have a lot to be grateful to her for.

Without her I might never have discovered sewing and knitting, two of my greatest pleasures.

I’m sorry it took me until my adult years to fully appreciate all the things you made for me, but thank you for clothing me in lovingly made 70s fabulousness and giving me the love of stitching! x

Can you spot the skirt?

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4 responses to “My sewing inspiration

  1. Oh I loved reading that post Nancy! What a great tribute to your mum (mom) and what FAB 70’s photos. The denim skirt/waistcoat combo with neckerchief at a jaunty angle is my favourite of her super stylish outfits. x

  2. I love this! I hope she read this! and I know all about…lukewarm reception of handmade clothing. I can think of several items my mother made me that left me soooo disappointed. Oh, and for my first communion, while I like my dress (a col Claudine for me too!), I hated the straps on my shoes and the yucky socks. Spent the whole mass lamenting how bad they looked to myself, LOL!

  3. That is the most beautiful Mother’s Day tribute EVER! Thank you, to the lovliest daughter a mom could wish for!! After dissolving into a puddle of tears whilst reading it, I had to walk Satchmo to regain my composure and get back to work. How many lifetimes ago were those pix?! Truly outrageous fabulosity! (Move over Austin Powers.) Yes, we really DID dress like that! May ALL your projects be bold. I love you, Nakky-Doo! Thank you for being you!! See you soon! xo

  4. Auntie Susan

    What a wonderful Mother’s Day entry, Nancy! Thank you for posting the great pictures to go along with your tribute. You and your mother are both VERY talented. XO

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