Monday, 3 August 2009

My Inspiration to Sew Part 2

My mother started sewing by hand as a little girl. She dreamed of sewing dresses like the ones she saw in the American dress magazines, but there was still rationings on fabric after the war.

At age 14, as was common back then, she left school and became an apprentice at a local sewing factory in England. She learned to properly sew there and over the years, came to know how to make raincoats, blouses, skirts, dresses, anything. If there was a new pattern, they only needed to hand it to her and she could sew it together while many others struggled. The others were only used to sewing the same part over and over, but my mother could work the whole garment. She was speedy too. You had to be if you worked piecework (you’re paid by the piece).
Growing up in grey Britain after the war, my mother dreamed of heading to Hollywood to design costumes for the stars. She saved and saved for the boat passage from England to Toronto and headed there. She quickly found a tailoring job and set about saving once again.
My parents met at a dance, got married and when one of the women at the tailor shop where she worked told her about where to go to get immigration papers for America, my mother went and within a few short weeks, she and my father were loading everything they owned into a Volkswagen mini bus and heading to Hollywood.

They drove from morning until night. In Britain, they would have crossed the country in that amount of time. In America with the old roads, they were in Michigan. The car broke down and they have lived there ever since.

Again my mother quickly got a job in the best tailor shop in Detroit. She made men’s suits until the shop was robbed and she was held at gun point. She never returned to work for many years. I was born and she directed her energies and her love into making all of my clothes (many of which were Princess Diana recreations), reupholstered our chairs/sofas, made curtains, bicycle bags, quilt, and hold-alls for small engine airplanes.
My mothers dresses did end up in Hollywood and the Cannes film festival just not as expected. I wore them to a job interview I once had (came to London instead) and to a number of film premieres.


Angie said...

what a fantastic memory to keep,
thank you for sharing, was very interesting reading,

Merry said...

I agree...I love reading your stories you write so well.

michele said...

Thank you for your wonderfully encouraging words!

Lynette said...

That is amazing. I remember my mom being behind the sewing machine most of the daylight hours. We were 5 girls and it must have been a huge effort to keep us all clothed on a small budget.

Nannieflash said...

Wow Michele, what a fabulous story, your mum like mine didnt let things get in her way, she worked the best way she could, and being able to sew she used it to make her way in the world. I love the dress in the last photo its gorgeous, mind you, the first photo of your mum is gorgeous to, look at lovely waist, wish mine was like that. Take care with love and hugs Shirleyxxxx

bubblegum said...

Wow Michele what an amazing Mother you had. She indeed was very talented - you must have learned so much from her. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story with us.


Cathy Lyons said...

Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. My Mom, too, made all her clothes and dresses and sews beautifully. It's the best growing up in a home where your parents love to make things. I love your blog!!! Have a great weekend. :)

angeljoy said...

Oh I loved hearing about your mom's story!