22 January 2013

Childhood Memories - Week 03

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES - a year long class on Soul Scrappers

Week 03 - Pretty dresses and fancy knits

One of the things I remember vividly from my early childhood is wearing lovely, dainty handmade dresses. My mother and my aunts would make them - not because it was the fashionable thing to do or for reasons of vanity or self indulgence - they would make them because it was by far more economical to do so than buy them readymade from the store. This was of course to slowly change over my growing years with the introduction of cheap imported clothing made for a pittance overseas but when I was little, thread and needle ruled supreme.

I remember frilly little dresses with underskirts. Pale pastel dresses with large tie back bows. Gingham checked skirts and floral patterned blouses (they weren’t called shirts in my day!). There were intricately smocked bodices and delicate embroidered collars. My aunts were the queens in making fabric go so much further than it was ever intended. I had outfits cut down from old dresses. Hand me downs from my cousins - nipped in here and let out there. I had boys overalls repurposed with a quick girly appliqué. I even recall the odd day dress being made from a pair of old curtains or cut down sheets.

While my mother and aunts ruled supreme in the sewing department both my grandmothers were spectacular knitters. Every winter I would be clothed head to toe in itchy, scratchy, “can’t bear it for another second” 100% pure merino wool (because neither of them were having anything to do with that cheap acrylic stuff). I had jumpers (sweaters) and cardigans, beanies, mittens and scarfs. I still have a hand crocheted skirt, poncho and beret my maternal grandmother made for me when I was about 9. While I loved their care and attention I will admit to this over abundance of wool led to a lifetime aversion to the product – I still break into a cold sweat when confronted with 100% merino wool.

Funnily enough handmade these days is much desired. To own a hand knitted jumper in 100% wool is an expensive luxury. When I was a child it was simply the most economical alternative !!

What clothing outfits do you recall from your early childhood? Were you, like me, dressed in handmade or repurposed outfits handed down from other family members?

Do you remember your mother sewing clothing for you and your brothers and sisters? Or did you go to the store and buy those pretty dresses off the rack?

Perhaps your mother or grandmother knit or would crochet clothing for you. What clothing disaster or fashion statement do you remember from your early childhood?

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