Jill W.

Memory of Cloth

This is a small extract of the numerous pages of hand written scribble that poured out on to the pages of my notebook…..

When I think about cloth I think primarily about my Grandma Ivy's house, her kitchen and the set of drawers in her living room where she kept, carefully folded remnants and ‘end of roll’ pieces of famous name fabrics that she’d bought in sales and at auction. Which reminds me I’ll go and look for them….

I was 15 when she passed away and I was determined to have some of her fabrics….I have just found them and am struck by the fact I haven’t been able to use them, to do so would somehow take away her presence as they would be transformed yet not to use them means they remain hidden away.

During the school holidays my sister and I spent whole days at Grandma Ivy’s house, I loved it, she taught me to use her treadle operated sewing machine and I made all manner of items for my doll’s house. Short of cloth one day I snipped a small section out of my bedroom curtains…..oh dear!

Infants school introduced everyone to cross stitch on binka and I still have my first completed piece, a place mat approximately 8 inches square, a pink background with brightly coloured bands of wool crosses all around. It was the best part of the week to spend time sewing. I know for me it was the selecting of colours, the gathering of tools and the preparations for working that I remember.

I think of –

  • my dad’s Harris tweed gardening jacket and flat cap
  • grandma’s corsets
  • tins of buttons
  • the wool shop
  • grandad’s budgerigars
  • egg and chips
  • the ritual of buying shoes
  • sneaking a look inside mum’s shoe boxes  

Recalling these memories has caused ripples on the surface of my world and disrupted the equilibrium. I didn’t have the happiest of childhoods and its hard to remember clearly the facts from the myths.