The Highlight of the Collection
I come from a family of artists. My grandfather on one side was an accomplished carpenter and furniture maker. My maternal great-grandmother was a milliner and dress maker. She made the most exquisite lace and smocked baby clothes. Both my sons were baptised in the christening gown she made originally for my mother's baptism in the 1940s. And my mother . . . “dressmaker”, “seamstress” . . . these words don't quite do her justice. My mother has a gift for textile arts. As well as dressmaking, she knits, crochets, quilts, and embroiders. She has constructed an evening gown using nothing but a bad drawing as a pattern. She has embroidered our child-sized handprints onto a hostess apron; a keepsake that has lasted 40 years. We have collected two generations of hand-beaded Christmas stockings, and she has knitted enough hats, scarves and prayer shawls to supply a medium-sized village.
When we were young, she made all the clothes for our important occasions, and the highlight of the collection was always the Easter dress. I remember our dresses, mine and Laura's, were customarily matching or at least coordinating. Laura, being the brunette, was usually kitted out in blue, while I had the corresponding pink version. My grandfather made a little step stool, and as part of our Easter dress fittings, we perched atop that stool while mom measured, tucked and pinned. It was hard to hold still, and more than once a pin ended up in someone's flesh, but we were such lucky, lucky little girls!