A stitch in the history of motherhood.

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Like most of us I don’t need a special day to think about my mum, but it is quite nice that we all nationally unite on Mothering Sunday to celebrate this wonderful relationship. Whether you are a daughter, a mother or a grandmother I don’t think there is any doubting there is something very special about the bond.

I am often asked how and when I learned to sew and I always tell the story of how it all began with mum. I still remember the feeling of the first day I tried to use a sewing machine. I was aged about 6-7 years old and off school full of cold. Obviously mum didn’t think I was bad enough to warrant her taking the day off. She worked as an occupational therapist working with the elderly. I sat in her office, she set up an old hand crank machine that was often used with her patients and gave me some zips and scraps of calico. I still remember the feeling of complete elation that I could make things. I designed a multitude of pencil cases. All very roughly made but I was in love with sewing and I absolutely couldn’t wait to show my sister when we picked her up from school! Nowadays I get that same buzz watching my customers complete their first projects and get a little bit addicted to this beautiful craft.


Here started a beautiful bond with my mum, she was already my amazing mum but now she let me into her sewing world.

She made nearly all her own clothes. It was as normal to her as making the dinner. She wore skirts all the time even for the daily chores. She didn’t have very many clothes mainly just what she needed, but like every girl she liked something new for a special occasion. In this picture she is wearing a handmade suit and I am wearing a pair of jeans I crafted from an old pair of curtains.


As I grew older I loved fabric shopping with mum. Our nearest big shopping centre was Peterborough which had a fabric shop called Gordon Thoday. It was a long shop with a low level and a mid level shelf running the length of the shop. The shelves were filled with rolls and rolls of fabric. At the far end of the shop was a small flight of stairs leading to an area where you could flick through the pattern books and order your patterns from a huge filling system behind the counter.

Mostly mum would buy a metre of suitable fabric from the market, this was enough to make her stable a-line everyday skirt. In the summer she made cotton skirts which were fuller, like the one in the picture and in winter she would make washable wool blend skirts.


If I had to describe my mum in three words I think I would choose – practical, creative and selfless.

There was never a question of getting stuck into the dirty work. Infact half the time mum was first in there suggesting what could be done and what we needed to do to make it happen. Both my mum and dad loved gardening, so when I moved into my first house they helped me improve my garden which included mixing concrete and laying paving.

I love the fact that the checks match perfectly on her skirt in this picture. Even though this was probably a cheap and cheerful work skirt, she still bothered to match the checks!


She had an abundance of creativity, she didn’t really indulge herself with her skills she often made things for others, One of my earliest memories of her creativity is her helping at the local village Sunday school to create a model nativity scene to be displayed in the village church. It was a huge papier mache village scene, painted white. All the figures were adorned in fabric clothing and little baskets of lentils and raisins lined the streets leading to the manger. I thought it was by far the best nativity scene I had ever seen.

Even though she had the skills she was always pleased to have things made for her. I think this is always a compliment to any teacher. I made this rather loud dressing gown as a gift for her in my early twenties.


My mum is an amazing lady she may not be with us physically anymore but she is all around me everyday. Every sewing class I teach and every stitch I sew started with her. In the great seam of life she sewed so many stitches.

Happy mothers day to all you beautiful Mothers.



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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...


  1. Emma on March 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    What lovely words! I can see where you get all your ideas and skill from now.

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