Many years ago when my Grandma died (1993), I saved most of her clothes to use for crafts.She had a heap of overcoats and loads of ‘Pure Nylon’ tops and pant suits, many of which were paisley and bright. Quite lairy was my old Grandma. Born in 1909, she found her heels (but not her temperament) in the 60’s. Well, with the fabrics and ‘kitsch’ of the era. I have lots of her old bric-a-brac and have added much of my own now too. What was once my Grandma’s style is now my style too. I have a collection of little porcelain fawns and Bambi’s, for example, which is a definite a Grandma influence.
I madeWagga’s out of Grandma’s coats, and still use remnants in all sorts of things: blankets, pot-holders and rugs.
When I first collected the nylons, I imagined using them in hooked rugs, what else after all? They don’t feel so nice to wear and can get a bit smelly, ew. I had bought, or rather borrowed Joan Mortimer’s fabulous book on Rug Hooking, so here was reason enough to save these quite lovely fabrics and save the memories that went with them.
Years went by. I made my ‘Grandma Curtains’ with some, embroidering notes and letters and recipes from my childhood and my life with Grandma and Mum. We three sewers. These adorn my sewing room, appropriately.
But this week, after having a bundle of colours made up for the last year, I started my Grandma’s Bambi rug (name in progress). It’s been sitting in the back of my mind for so long! As ideas do. All I want to do now is work on the rug, even though I really have no place for it in my tiny little house. Let alone anywhere for a pink deer rug! (I can hear your comments about that from here, and I am going ahead so you see, I agree).
Anyhow, the main reason I wanted to write about this is that I feel the intimacy of my Grandma so very much, doing this. Grandma was a quick sewer. Always eager to try something new and get on with it. She used pinking shears rather than zig-zag on the seams (pre overlocker days). I’m not like that. I’m fastidious, but have otherwise almost completely morphed her into myself.
As I pull apart these nylon clothes, I see her quick and ‘strong-but-not- blind’ hemming and remember when I got her to make my end-of-year dress for dressmaker’s college (myself a lazy 16 year old) and lost marks for the pragmatic but not saleable, invisible hem. And last night as I unpicked another outfit, I discovered Grandma’s pencil marks for her darts. It brought a tear to my eye and a pang of loneliness for her and for my Mum. We three sewers who shared so much.
Only I, remaining, know these things about my Grandma. When I look inside these old clothes, I know instantly if she made it and that makes me smile. I still miss her terribly even after this time, but she is hooked into posterity with this very bright, pink, maybe a little bit kitsch, Bambi rug.
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