Wednesday, 18 May 2011

My Grandmothers' Apron... Inspiration

Both, in their own way, have had a great influence on my desire to make things and sew. 

My maternal Nan lived with us for many years and I was utterly devoted to her.  I need no pictures of her as, 23-odd years after her death, I can still see her in my mind with complete clarity.  She was a wonderful woman, who was instrumental in teaching me to stitch and sew, and who inspired me with her impeccable dress.  Even in the heat of a Hong Kong summer, she always wore skirts and stockings, a slip and camisole, sleeved, button up shirts with a kitted cardigan or vest and everything was clean, pressed and very well cared for.  She also always wrapped her work in a teatowel, a habit I continue today with her teatowels; and always wore an apron.  I won't cook without one but until recently had not had any aprons that were not purely utilitarian; then last year I saw the beautiful Obi Apron on BurdaStyle and remembered that, thanks to that one image of my Nan (stood in the hall in her apron) that still makes me smile with memories today, I love a good apron!  I now have my own Temptapron and wear it every good chance I get, quite delighted when the boyf comments that I look like a 50s housewife.

My paternal Grandma Edith, had it less easy I'm afraid.  As she lived in Gloucestershire, and we in HK, she saw us rarely and never for long enough.  My abiding memories of her are of satin sheets that were washed in TCP and that she made her own clothes.  I say clothes, but she designed and wore the same dress pattern for as long as I knew her.  I cannot remember ever seeing her in anything else than that dress, a cardigan as required and lace up, low heeled shoes.  At the time I didn't appreciate the fact that the dresses were handmade; nor that, with just a change of fabric, she made something completely new each time from the same pattern; which was edited to suit as the years went by.  Older, and a little wiser, I appreciate her certainty in what suited her, her contentment in how she looked, her ingenuity, and her skill (because they were beautifully made dresses) and I wish I'd had a chance to tell her that.

I was hanging out the washing as I was thinking about them both and it suddenly stuck me that my pegs in an apron would be a great idea... one that honours both women.  My own pattern, made with as much skill and care as I can muster, in honour of Edith, and inspired by Nan's aprons... and her habit of tucking the hem into the waistband... more later.
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