This is a garment I still have from my high school sewing. A pink baby’s dress. It was part of my portfolio of coursework to be assessed for my O Level in needlecraft and dress. The brief was to make something that had some element of handsewn needlework - like embroidery. I chose smocking.
It’s very strange and lovely to be able to inspect something you have sewn decades ago as a sixteen year old. What strikes me are all the details in this dress. It must also have been very fiddly sewing something so small (especially the sleeves).
The dress has:
- hand smocking on the front yoke
- baby peter pan collar with lace trim
- gathered skirt
- puff sleeves with elastic casing
- piping on the front yoke
- cute back buttons
I think about the craft revival that’s happening now and sewing back then. I went to a state school, but it had a sewing room and sewing was on the curriculum. There were sewing workstations around the sides of the room, pressing equipment, bins of scrap fabrics, and the opportunity to learn to make clothes with a knowledgable teacher, who came to work in clothes she made. This isn’t the case in schools today.
I started to make clothes again in 2011 and this has been significant for me personally. Returning to sewing clothes felt soothing. Stitching fabric together and making something functional and beautiful felt like making a connection to something fundamental inside.
Sewing is a skill that has a history of being pass down from previous generations, usually via women - grandmothers, mothers, aunts. I think this dress makes a connection from myself as a sixteen year and now as a woman in my forties. When I discovered the sewing blogging community, it felt like I could contribute something to this passing on of sewing.
PS. The back of this dress is so sweet.