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Sewn in the past

Memories, like the corners of my mind…

So many creatives I’m sure, owe their love of making to a relative. I, like several others owe a debt to my mum for instilling in me a love for dressmaking. Some of my earliest memories were of our large, dark flat in Newington Green, North London. In a little room just past the kitchen was a large industrial sewing machine, a Singer or a Brother, I can’t remember. Out of that room would often come the whirr whirr sound of the machine, and one of my favourite sounds ever, the shnip shnip of my mum’s scissors. If shnip isn’t a word, it really should be! Those sounds formed part of the background to my childhood.

Back in Ghana, my mum had been a seamstress but she didn’t carry on in that line upon coming to the UK. Yet dressmaking was still part of her and for many years she would sew her own clothes and clothes for my sister and I. Sometimes we absolutely loved the clothes that she made. I remember one in particular was black with a large floral print. Our class was doing an assembly on the plant kingdom and that dress was just perfect for it. But alas we soon became fashion conscious, ungrateful teenagers and snubbed my mum’s designs. And yes, she was a designer, she never used a commercial pattern but always drafted her own.

Eventually the industrial machine was sent to Ghana and replaced with a small machine. It was a New Home, I remember it because when I was 15 my mum gave it to me as I had shown an eagerness to learn. My Home Economics lessons at Highbury Fields School had taught me some basics but yielded little success. Unfortunately, although my mum was a great seamstress, she wasn’t a great teacher, that’s how I remember it, or perhaps I wasn’t a good learner.

Still, after many years of self learning, picking up tips and ideas from my mum and from books and screens, making the odd cushion here, the odd garment there, I have now come back to my love of sewing with great passion. Dressmaking excites me. As created beings it’s great that we get to be creative. It is a wonder to me that we can take limp 2-D sheets of cloth and turn them into items with form and structure, function and beauty.

All this ramble was by way of introduction. Hi, I’m Lena and I love to sew. I have done for several years but since 2018 have become more serious and slightly obsessive about it. Sewing is an outlet for my creativity, it is stimulating and challenging and it is, or can be a great stress buster.

I especially love working with knit fabric and African wax print. I sew slowly and my seam ripper and little scissors are my friends. My sewing journey is also one of waking up to the need to buy less, to think more carefully about the where and how of the fashion industry and the impact it is having on the world. I hope you’ll be inspired by my journey, do join me.

Published by The Unpickstitch Papers

I'm a teacher, baker and own clothes maker. I like to read, I like to work out. I wish there was more time in the day to do life. I have 1 husband, 2 daughters and no dogs yet, though I'm working on wearing my hubby down!

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