Jacqueline H.

My earliest memory of a garment

When I read the assignment, I immediately thought of the blouse I made for my baby brother when I was six years old. White pique cotton with tiny red stripes. I had been working with my children’s sewing machine for over two years, making dolls’ clothes, bags, cases for pencils and everything else I collected etc. My mother and grandmother probably thought it was time for the ‘real stuff’. Laying out the pattern pieces on the fabric. Not being allowed to cut the fabric. I was sure I could handle that as well, being six years and two months!

I don’t remember much of the actual sewing. But I do know I felt proud I was allowed to work with such nice fabric. A little bit stiff, still easy to handle and a structured surface. And then the test for my stamina: hand sewing all those tiny buttonholes. Followed by the pleasure of sewing on those nice red buttons. Although it was too bad my mother didn’t allow me to make some more embellishments! My grandmother was into adding some decorative stitching, but no: it was a boys’ blouse.

I was proud of the result and I can picture my six months old brother with the blouse. At the same time I wondered why I wasn’t allowed to sew something for myself. Couldn’t I make something wonderful with frills and flowers and all those things a six year old girl likes?

Well, it is kind of the story of my life. A girl growing up in a traditional family in the sixties with four brothers and no sisters, had to learn the useful skills and be helpful, strong and behave like an adult. No time for frivolous things!

And it took me all those years to free myself of these thoughts……..