Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday, synonymous with  Mother's Day, is a moveable feast in Britain because it is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent in the Christian calendar.  Originally it was the day people visited their mother church in honour of the Virgin Mary and then it became traditional as the one day of the year when the poor old domestic servants were allowed to visit their families.  I prefer the term to Mother's Day as it free from commercial connotations like Hallmark cards but that's just me.

We are celebrating the centenary of my mother Mitzi's birth this month. She died in 1990.  Like many of her generation she did not really voice her maternal love for her four daughters but we were in no doubt about it.  One of the ways she expressed it was by making us beautiful clothes: smocked vyella frocks,  sundresses, gingham school dresses, towelling beach wraps, summer shorts, nightdresses, housecoats, party dresses .. I still remember my delight and pride in them. 

 I  adored going to the shops and choosing patterns, heaving the great books from Butterick, McCalls and Simplicity around, flicking through the pages and always sneaking a look at the Fancy Dress outfits at the end of the children's section. I spent hours with her at the dining room table, listening to her breathing as she pinned out her patterns.  Loved the sound of the scissors scything through the fabric and the sweet aroma of new material.  Loved the    gentle whirring of her Singer sewing machine and every detail of the making except for standing around while she fitted me and measured a hem.    

The narrative of one of the dresses my mother made me.  I wore this darling  when I was five for a little play at school. Geoffrey Christmas (I'm not making it up) and I had approximations of christmas stockings tied on our fronts and had to hold hands by the tree. I was mortified but that's beside the point.  Fast forward to 30 years later at a jumble sale held at my childrens' school, not many miles from where I grew up. I am rooting through the piles of clothes and there it is! I remember the nylon fabric exactly (an exciting innovation at the time)  and it has all the hallmarks of my mother's workmanship, down to the edging on the collar. I never found out where it had been in the meantime but clearly it was meant to survive and come back home.   

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  1. What a marvelous story, to find your pretty, drip-dry childhood dress at the jumble all those years later. A lovely and unexpected reunion indeed! It gives me hope that someday I shall stumble upon the gold-cufflinks I inherited from my father, passed down from father to son by previous generations, and which were sadly "lost" more than a decade ago...

  2. That's very fine work. The gathers on the skirt look like darts.

  3. That was wonderful, Rosie.
    In an ideal world we'd have not only the image of that miraculously
    rediscovered dress, but a photograph of the young Rosie wearing it.
    Any chance of that happening in the near future?

  4. A beautiful memory, a stitch in time. What will you do with the dress now that it has found you?

  5. TW thank you. There is no photograph of me wearing it but I was up to the early hours of the morning searching in vain for one of my mother with my sister and me dressed up like little meringues in our starched organdie dresses. They prickled terribly under the arms and round the neck.

  6. Reggie, it was indeed a poignant find but one can't help wishing that a coincidence of that magnitude could be more usefully employed in a lottery. I do hope your cufflinks surface one day.

  7. rurritable, if you mean the projectile variety of dart rather than the sewing process, I would have been thrilled to know it at that age I dare say.

  8. Home, if I have a granddaughter in the next batch, I am not sure she'll consent to wearing my dress but she's welcome (under a modicum of supervision!). Meantime, it is displayed on that nifty stand in the nursery upstairs. Ahhh....

  9. What a precious dress! How wonderful too that it has found its way home -i'm sure you cherish it! I can think of so many items from happy memories of childhood I would be thrilled to come across.


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