Happy Mothers Day…A dress my Mum made.

Words I would use to describe my Mum…Kind, loving, caring, supportive, non-judgemental, patient, calm, thoughtful, considerate, practical, clever. There’s quite a long list of wonderful characteristics I remember about my Mum. Many of which she demonstrated to me as my first sewing teacher when I was a young child.

It’s no secret that I started my journey into sewing taught by my special mum. Spending time sewing with mum and shopping for fabric are some of my clearest childhood memories. My mum made the majority of her own clothes. As a child, I remember her thrifty decisions about making a straight skirt or fuller style and how she could possibly cut a few corners to reduce the amount of fabric she had to buy.

Today I thought I would share a recently discovered dress that she made.

My sister had organised a ‘sorting out’ session at my Dad’s house which included tidying out various cupboards that hadn’t been opened for probably years.

This dress was amongst some bags of fabrics. Straightway I recognised it as a dress my mum had made, though I don’t think I ever saw her wearing it.

The reason I knew she had made it was because I remember the story about how as a baby my Dad had bought home a handmade panda teddy bear for me. The bear had glass eyes so it sat on a shelf where I couldn’t reach it. However, I wanted the bear so much that in the end, Mum gave in, she removed the glass eyes and cut pieces of this fabric in the shape of eyes and stitched them in place. The pattern on the fabric is quite distinctive and she used the oval shape as the outline for the eyes. The bear received much love over the years and from time to time was ‘re-furred’, a technique which involved carefully stitching new fur and features over the old, in order to save his life! Each time this happened he would have new eyes made from this fabric.

I don’t know if she kept the dress because of the potential of running out of ‘eyes’ for my teddy or whether she kept it because she loved the dress or the fabric. perhaps all of these!

I love the unusual seam line at the front almost a bib shape. The bust shaping integrated into this line.

I also love the colour of this dress, I share my Mum’s love of blues and greens. The fabric is crimplene I think. Fairly common in the 60s. Which is when I imagine she would have made this dress. I believe Crimplene became popular in the 60’s because of its non-crease quality. Something we are quite used to today with a multitude of polyester fabrics and polyester blend fabrics on the market. It is a fairly heavy weight fabric with raised surface texture. The fabric is definitely one you would not find today.

I’m feeling inspired to take a pattern from it and make a new version. I guess our modern day version might be made in Ponti Roma!

I find it almost unbelievable that this year marks 20 years since my mum passed away. There isn’t a day that goes by that she isn’t in my thoughts. It’s very special to me that the beginning of my lifelong love for sewing started with my Mum. Now that I am a Mum too, I hope I can inspire my two kids as much as my Mum inspired me.

Happy Mothers Day to all you wonderful mums. x



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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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