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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Tortured by crewel past

Here's one I made earlier
I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode last night of "The Great British Sewing Bee," even though I ran the risk of being traumatised by watching it. 

The reminder of "bias binding" and "A line skirt" took me back to school and never-forgotten humiliations.

Mum and I cannot sew. For us, velcro is a godsend, as is the dry cleaner's that hems trousers.

My humiliations started aged around nine.

The girls had been given a piece of "Binker", that holey cream stuff that you embroider. Mrs Thompson, the spiteful teacher, held mine up in front of the class saying "The boys could have done better."

It got worse at the big school. We were expected to run up little aprons during the summer holidays edged with bias binding in the colour of our school house.

Bias Binding

Armed with the Crewels and Sharps which had been on the domestic science shopping list, I attempted this. But in the end my friend Shonagh had to step in and finish the job. There was a big difference between her stitches and mine.

Double domestic science lessons were an utter nightmare. Our school had lavishly equipped "labs" and cookery with Mrs Johnson was fine. However, sewing with Miss Coleman was not.

After I repeatedly failed to thread the needle of the darned Husqvarna sewing machine, she told the class I must have a turnip on my shoulders instead of a head with a brain.

Another time, I was summoned to see her during a break to show her the A line skirt I had been struggling with for over a year.   She made me model it, whereupon the sixth form girls who were there for the next lesson all started sniggering.

Reader, I never wore that skirt.

Cow Handling a Musket

It was perhaps even worse for my mum because her mother was an expert needlewoman and made her wedding dress, having to go "off pattern" because the Elizabethan style stand-up collar wasn't standing up.

Mum hated it when she was expected to produce a fancy dress outfit. I was bemused to be sent to a party as a "flower girl" wearing a normal dress and a headdress with a few flowers stuck on with glue. Daleks and Oliver Twists kept asking me what I was.

The instruction to make a PE bag resulted in a pillowcase that had an elastic drawstring at the top.  When the plimsolls were inserted, the bag gently stretched from the peg to rest on the floor.

At least mum was good at knitting. I was memorably described as "a cow handling a musket" by Grandma when I tried to take up the hobby.

I have nothing but admiration for people who can take those utterly incomprehensible patterns and turn them into something fantastic. It would be terrific to make my own clothes.

But it's never going to happen, and the nearest I get to needles nowadays is creating the birthday card above.

1 comment:

Linda Ursin said...

We're not all meant to be seamstresses :) I can sew, but only as much as I have to. There are other things I'm a lot better at, as I'm sure you've got other talents.

Gadget

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