Its a strange place I find myself in at this time of year. As a child, Xmas was meagre with mostly handmade clothes for an old doll, Perhaps something new handmade for us to wear on the day. Some fruit & some nuts and a few lollies, all of which was a real treat. Mum had seven of us to make up gifts for and there was never much money. Most of our clothes were hand me down and with our cousins, bags of clothes and toys were passed around and delighted in and treasured as if new. Its such a contrast to today’s parents and children’s expectations, though I never remember feeling disappointed.
Lindy and I were close in age and often got different versions of the the same thing. I remember one year Lindy getting a shiny belt made with a linked chain. Mine had small squares in every different colour. I was about 8 perhaps and thought it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I wondered the other day if I would find a remnant of it when we tidy out Mums draws as nothing was ever wasted. She gathered up shiny trinkets broken or not and made them into something new. If something went to rags buttons, laces and trims carefully cut and stashed. I have been lucky enough to have both my Nana’s button tin and now my Mums.
Mum gave me a patch work quilt recently and I was amazed to find I recognised almost all the fabrics from my childhood. A shirt, A summer dress, An evening gown, A pocket from a jacket, A piece of blanket. These all cut into odd shapes and carefully stitched together. This would never stand up to any scrutiny at a quilters class however and when I threw it out on the bed I screwed my face up at the uneveness of the squares, the stretchy knit fabric pulling the other pieces out of plum. The scratchy glittery piece from an evening gown sitting beside the delicate piece of petticoat. No matter I thought…I will take it all to bits and resew it! Then it will last forever and be a true momento of Mum I thought as I folded it up…but then I threw it out over the bed again the other day and realised this is exactly who Mum was.
She sewed with speed and purpose. She didn’t expect people to examine her work or critique it. It was merely to serve the purpose of being a bed cover and to reuse old fabrics. No more no less. The construction of this and the mismatched fabrics, was actually the beauty of it. The memory of each beautiful square living a new life with a new purpose.
When I look at it I see the blouse she wore in photos before I was born, the richly patterned circular skirt she wore in the 50’s, the satin and glittery evening wear she wore in the 60’s, the tartan I made a jacket out of in the 70’s as she patiently helped me learn to sew and the stretchy knit fabric I made into a top and skirt in the 80’s that she loved.There are fabrics I have no idea where they came from but it is absolutely beautiful… exactly as it is.