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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