Thursday, 6 May 2010

Glory days of yore. And it's a boy!

The saga of the buttons surely deserves to be recorded in full. I managed to get some more mauve buttons while in Melbourne, thanks to the combined efforts of daughter and sister, in driving me around. Once home, I discovered what should have been slightly more obvious, that the buttons were too large for the buttonholes. There is now a surplus of over-large mauve buttons in the house. Off to search for buttons yet again. It is amazing that finding small mauve buttons can be so difficult.

Finally I found some at Lincraft yesterday, and sat upon my couch, full of resolution and determination. Replacing buttons is not a quick job, but I sat patiently, sewing diligently, and managed to sew on four buttons. Then along came Joe, aka Dr P, who had more important things in mind for me to do, which meant that all I'd mentally scheduled to be done before choir did not in fact get done. Button sewing on will be resumed shortly.

In yet another fit of zeal I thought I might have a go at the new sewing machine, and use up a piece of fabric and make a cushion cover. With a zip. I had bought a zip, something which should have been easy enough to do, she snorts, but the shop was out of zips of that particular size and colour, so yet another search expedition ensued, this time successful. When I went to find this zip, nonchalantly and carelessly dropped somewhere or other, it had disappeared. Woe is me. Now it will be necessary to hunt for it, doubtless meaning that there will be a BIG tidy-up.

Ever the grumbling philosopher, I used those futile searching minutes to reflect on the past, and how some things Have Changed For The Worse. Once upon a time most women sewed, knitted, crocheted, embroidered and mended. Haberdashery and fabric shops abounded. Large department stores like Myers and Buckleys had extensive fabric departments, and the choice was beautiful. There was certainly an excellent choice of buttons.

Slowly, things changed, while I was not watching closely. Then all of a sudden, fabric and haberdashery shops became endangered species. So did wool shops. Well, for me, that was not too bad, because, like the Egyptians of old, I used the good years to acquire and conserve some rather nice fabrics and lots of wools, mostly mohair, which is incredibly beautiful, but alas, hardly suited to the Sydney climate. At one stage I patronised wholesale fabric businesses, as I used to do a lot of silk painting. There are still many rather lovely fabrics waiting for a good outfit and a competent dressmaker, to adorn a body which has regrettably acquired too much flesh and lost much of its former - well, glory is too strong a word, but let me just describe it as having seen better days. Anyway, once the years of famine arrived, I was able to see them out comfortably, reassured by the existence of my surpluses.

I gradually stopped painting silk when I moved here. I'd lost my captive market of the workplace, and, being extremely non-entrepreneurial, was not up to trying to have stalls at local markets. Hand-painted silk is out of fashion now, and most of the dyes are past their use-by date. The frames have disintegrated. I had nowhere in this house to set up a workspace. The table was too small, and the sink and laundry troughs were made out of that horrid porous white plastic which absorbs even simple stains like tea leaves, necessitating the use of what advertisements disapprovingly describe as 'Harsh Cleaners'. Such as straight bleach. By the time I managed to replace the kitchen sink with a stainless steel one, it was rather too late to resume production. That sort of work needs to be done constantly, in order to maintain and improve skills, and to keep developing creativity. I loved doing it, but once Dr P came on the scene, even before I moved, it became more difficult. He'd want to watch TV while I painted. There I would be, delicately and dexterously painting in some fine detail, and just as I was about to put brush to fabric he'd say something in his loud voice, OR there would be the sound of gunshots or explosives from the TV. I'd jump, risking total artistic disaster. There was, shall I say, a certain incompatibility. A couple of rolls of silk still linger in the cupboards, and I have a few pieces of fabric which could be made into something or other. Except I never did manage to sew fine silk, the machine would always chew it up somehow.

There seems to have been a resurgence in crafts and sewing, but the variety of fabrics is not as extensive as in the past. Synthetics have replaced natural fibres, understandably enough, but I still love natural fibres, the cottons, silks, linens and woollens. They are so much more comfortable and beautiful. Synthetics are for bras, raincoats, and stretchy comfortable pants.

Today is my granddaughter's fifth birthday. If I were better organised, I would have bought fabric and pattern, and whipped her up a little something. Whipping up days occur but rarely, alas. Instead, she will probably have to make do with something made in China. I hope to find something in blue or purple. There are far too many clothes for girls made in nasty fabrics in lurid and unpleasant shades of pink and so I hope to go against the trend.

This morning I had a cortisone injection into my sore hip. Everyone who has had such an injection has described in gross detail its excruciating pain. But I was given a local anaesthetic, so mine was quite tolerable. It is apparently advisable to take things quietly for the rest of the day, so here I sit, instead of dashing off to the usual Thursday activities. Instead I did chores such as picking up a mended piece of footwear (a Croc? a plastic thing Dr P wears, which looks hideous), the drycleaning, a prescription, bread, and coffee.

Of course, writing all of this means that button-sewing-on has yet again been deferred. But I digress. Is there a genetic predisposition towards digression and delay, I wonder?

The recollection just blew into my mind that in the glory days of yore, I did not enjoy sewing very much. What was really depressing was that the more I sewed, the worse at it I became. After using a sleeve to cut out a missing piece of facing, I retired from the fray, bitterly reflecting that generally, the more you practise something, the better at it you get - eg, working, cooking, housekeeping, etc. When this does not happen, it gives one pause for thought. That blouse never did get finished.

News flash! The 11th grandchild of Sister 2, C, was born in England, at home after a 45 minute labour and 12 minutes after the midwife arrived. The first baby was also born at home after a labour of one hour. This baby is a healthy boy, named after his maternal grandfather. The gender balance has tilted slightly - 8 girls and now a third boy. We are all thrilled. The proud grandparents depart for the UK on Monday.


Stomper Girl said...

*smugly* I whipped up something for your grand-daughter's birthday. Although I don't think she'll get it today.

Good news about L's baby. She does not muck around with her labours. Is he named for your father or your BIL's?

Frances said...

Sewing finished for me, Persiflage, when I put the last sleeve into the lovely black linen top I had made: scrupulously, I pinned, tacked, tried on, sewed and finished, only to find that I had attached it inside out.

Congratulations on the baby! It sounds as if he's providing delight, just as they are meant to do.

Anonymous said...

I managed to sew a simple bag during grade 8 home ec, but would have no idea how to go about such a thing now. And when I was a child I remember being given endless craft kits for things like cross-stitch and French knitting. My grandmother and godmother are both brilliantly talented at these things, and I treasure many wonderful gifts from them. My godmother recently sent me a quilted bag in which to keep my flawed, laborious knitting projects. You are to be commended for sticking it out with the buttons.

persiflage said...

All these sewing stories make me laugh. I am not alone!I sewed on all the buttons and discover that I am one button short, as I did not count them and forgot that there are buttons on the short sleeves. Grrr.

Hello, and welcome, Frances.

The baby is named for HIS maternal grandfather, Bill.

Saffronlie, unexpected talents may yet develop later in your life and career. You never know.

Pam said...

You need to go to S Girl's craft camp??