Transitions at the sewing machine


This is a long weekend in Australia.  For many, a three-day weekend is an opportunity to travel.  For me, for a few years now, I’ve been using it to transition from the over-sized bulk of winter to the light and breezy of the summer wardrobe.  A spring clean.

The year progresses.  We have entered its third season; just a couple of months to go with some important things still to achieve from this Year of Liveability.

I suspect that for some this seasonal transition is a relic of the past.  Their generously proportioned walk-in wardrobes house everything they need for the entire year.  Yet, it’s an opportunity to take stock of which items will last another year, which need replacing, which were a bad idea and which worked!  It’s an opportunity to look at the big picture and decide how each piece fits, or doesn’t.

Sorted items land in one of three piles:  sentimental value, to be stored; still good enough for charity; too worn out, to be binned.  (There really should be a way of recycling that last category.  Perhaps a clothes shredder that will make cushion filler?)

It occurred to me this year that the sentimental pile hasn’t existed for a while.  It’s not that I’m no longer sentimental.  There are other things I keep for just that reason.  It seems that my attitude to clothing has changed.

There’s a level of pragmatism that wasn’t there in my younger years.  Back then, I flouted convention whenever possible and made a lot of my clothes either by re-working second hand items or starting from scratch with yards of beautiful material.

Then, so many pieces contained both a financial and personal investment.  Sentimental was inevitable.

Somewhere along the way, creativity gave way to practicality.  And I think I know when.

What happened?

Two things happened.

First came university.  I worked and studied and no longer had the time or money to devote to creative clothing.  I totally loved studying, so didn’t really mind, except maybe just a little bit.

Second came everything else … a need to have a go at anything interesting enough to grab my attention … gardening, pottery, photography, blogging … to get out and about … explore; an inevitable outcome after 10 years of being shut in, studying.

With only so many useable hours each day, a few loves didn’t survive.

So the creative wardrobe became the pragmatic wardrobe, and bit by bit I became a scarf lady.

Oh dear!

I’ve decided I don’t want to be a scarf lady anymore.  Unless, it is a sewn-together concoction of multi-coloured scarves that envelopes the world around me.

I’ve decided it’s time to return to some earlier loves.

Where it began

Mum was born at time and in a place where home sewing was the norm.  Her daughters followed her example, beginning with doll’s clothes made from leftovers.

There is a vivid memory of orange gingham.  I cannot guess at my age, but definitely younger than 10.  I would surprise Mum by making her a skirt.  I figured it would be just like making the doll’s skirt but bigger.  So I measured my Mum’s waist and hips, knowing that that probably dented the surprise a little.

Adult skirts need to be a little longer than Barbie’s.  I know that now.

I only saw her wear it once.  That was very sweet of her, to at least wear it once, if only around the house.  It looked terrible.

Yet, it did not deter me.  Probably because I had seen Mum both succeed and fail at the sewing machine.  Failure was never the end of the story.

Next step

This weekend’s stock take of summer-to-come revealed a missing skirt. Summer weekends around the house need a large, long, loose skirt.  So, I’ll make one.





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