Becoming a mum was really the inspiration and motivation for starting my sewing business. Motherhood also underpins a lot of what I do within the business. I really like what I call the heritage value of sewing. By this I mean the way this skill is passed on through the generations. Certainly that is the way it happened in my family. My grandmother taught my mum to sew and my mum taught me to sew and I will teach my children to sew.
I find it interesting how things have changed in the world of sewing over the decades. In my grandmothers day the emphasis was much more necessity and these days the emphasis is much more choice than necessity.
I still own my grandmothers sewing machine and I use it in my sewing classes today! I also learnt to sew on this sewing machine. So it holds special memories, I remember as a child being aware of the clothing that my grandmother had made. However I was to young when she passed away to have spent much time in her sewing world.
I would love to go back in time now and sit and ask my grandmother about how she felt about sewing. I would love to know if she enjoyed sewing or just did it because she had to. She clearly had a talent for it.
There has definitely been a revival in the the thrifty ‘mend and make do’ attitude of 1940’s and wartime. I found a lovely book with this very title, printed in 1943 and full of tips and information on everything from washing your garments and linens to mending and renovating you wardrobe.
Absolutely nothing need be wasted according to this book. It gives ideas for how to make two badly worn mens shirts into one and then use the remnants to make a boys shirt. There are instructions for lengthening a dress that has shrunk in the wash by adding contrast panels to the hem and adding patch pockets to the bodice to finish the style.
It has some great ideas for adding a crocheted waistband to a blouse that is to short and an idea for attaching ribbons and elastic (‘if you can spare a few inches of elastic’, I guess it was rationed! ) to the front of a blouse so it can fasten at the back, once the back has been removed due to wear! A kind of false blouse covered with a jacket.
Scraps of woven woolen fabric could be saved to unravel to use for darning, mending and sewing seams. And they recommend you carry a needle and cotton to mend a ladder in a stocking or save a button!
All these ideas seem slightly hard to believe when most of us never get to the point of anything actually wearing out these days!
I do however remember my own mums sewing values being of a thrifty nature. She made all her own clothes apart from the odd top and dress. She wore skirts all the time and when needing an every day simple skirt it would always be plain without the need for to much fabric for pleats etc.
She would still look at skirts in the shops, but always whistle at the cost and compare how much she could make the same thing for. Exclaiming over the quality of fabric and make up was common.
I think I was about 6 when I had my first go on a sewing machine. My mum worked as an occupational therapist. I was off school one day with some illness obviously not to bad, but bad enough to have a day off school. Mum took me to her workplace and showed me how to use a hand wheel sewing machine, then left me to it while she worked.
By the end of the day I had made endless calico pencil cases for my sister and I had fallen in love with sewing!
Mum let me join in with her sewing sessions at home and helped me make things. I was mainly interested in making clothes, I remember making two pairs of flares – a blue pair and a bright green pair both in woven polyester. Followed by two blouses a yellow paisley one and a pink patterned one. Mum definitely stepped in on the tricky bits like the trouser zips and the button front of the blouses, although I think at the time I claimed credit for the entire garment. I loved these times with my mum, I was so inspired to be doing something that I loved with my mum and was always really proud of myself for making something!
Sewing was a way of life for mum, I think she enjoyed it but it was also a prerequisite. The fun clothes to make were usually associated with me and my sister. We loved fabric shopping together, in fact I remember it being the highlight of a shopping trip. As I got older and went to youth club discos and parties the sewing became more adventurous and fun. I think I challenged my mum in finding ways of making what ever garment was the latest thing! It was still an activity I did with my mum.
These special times with my mum was partly the inspiration behind my adult and child workshops. I still love the idea of this special bonding time, nothing else can replace this special time.
These workshops are a great opportunity for both mum and child to learn some sewing techniques as well as having fun together. I don’t specify how old the child has to be but to get the most out of the workshop they need to be able to do some hand sewing.
Mum and child can work as a design team and choose from multicoloured felt, a sweet shop of buttons, sparkly treats and a rainbow of threads, to create their own bag in a choice of sizes. Exploring these treasures is a good option for those that find their attention threshold not that good!
Becoming a mum myself catapulted me almost instantly into a whole new sewing world. Having a little girl first made me want to sew little dresses. I made practical things as well like toy bags and cot adornments. Then when I had a little boy next I felt challenged to find things to make for him that would be equally suitable and fitting for my little man.
As they grow up I have constant ideas for projects to sew for both of them. Most of these ideas have and will become workshop projects. In the pipeline at the moment are two mini courses – ‘kit out your kids room’, all practical products that will make any childs bedroom a special place as well as learning some key sewing skills. Another class is being developed and will be ready for spending some magical time in the summer months with most ages including grown up kids!(I’m keeping this one under wraps for the time being). A basis for dressing up clothes is also high on the agenda and I am developing more clothing styles for the little dudes and little darlings that I will offer as made to order and learn to make your own.
New sewing ideas constantly seem to unfold in front of me as if being sent from a star above. I think my business is the ultimate compliment to my amazing mother. A shining star indeed.
Lets celebrate mothers and motherhood today, on Sunday and every day.