Snapshots from a Lifelong Journey

Lately I lost a bit of motivation for this sewing blog.  It feels as if there is really not that much one can say about making comfy winter clothes, but be assured, my daughter and I are still thoroughly enjoying the output, even if I do not write volumes about it! Here are the most recent projects:


Getting stuff properly photographed is just the biggest obstacle!

I must say, that has always been a problem.  I have been wearing my own self-made clothes since high school, and yet I have almost no pictures of me wearing them!

Today, with blogs and Instagram and such, it is so easy to keep a record of everything I make and wear, that it is in danger of becoming an obsession.  Yet I do wish I had been slightly more ‘obsessed’ in the past with keeping record of my handwork!  I remember dresses I created, with fondness.


Making these dresses were a joy, and I wish Instagram existed in those days! The detail on my own dress included small bows on the cuffs of the gathered sleeves, and various widths of satin ribbon stitched on the collar and shoulder flounce. Looking back now, I do not think it was a particularly good style choice…but I loved making it – on a shoestring budget as always.

And then there was my wedding dress, ofcourse.  The one I made from 2m of polyester (which I later recycled for a bathroom curtain) with 50 pearl buttons down the back.  At the time I sewed this dress, I completely disregarded things like grainline or interfacing.  Do be honest, I did not really understand about things like that, since I was self-taught and had mostly worked without patterns! Still, I looked decent enough:



But there were so many other ‘everyday’ dresses…

There was for example, one I made when I was in my early 20’s.  It was of royal blue cotton, colour-blocked with cream broderie anglaise.  With stem-stitch and glass beads, I embroidered a free-hand design in cream on the blue, across the shoulders and chest.

One day I was walking to church, arm-in-arm with a blind friend.  She stopped at one stage, running her fingers all along the embroidery.  “Your dress is beautiful!” she exclaimed with a delighted look on her face.

I will cherish that compliment for ever; on of the most precious I ever received.

I can not even remember what became of that dress, though I did find a very poor picture of me wearing it at the wedding of another friend:


Deep in conversation with the bride.

When I went to college, I made a whole wardrobe in pastels.  The blue pinafore in this picture was a favourite, and I unbuttoned the top when I wanted to wear it as a skirt. At the end of my college years I wanted new clothes…so I chopped up the pinafore as well as a peach skirt and top I had, and combined them to make a crazy-patchwork dress…which I wore to a  job interview.  (I got the job…) I WISH I had a picture of that 1990’s ‘Artsy Craftsy’ creation, but I don’t!


That Graduation Dinner dress was a dream make.  I had  limited length – I think 1.5 metre – of lace that was “blotch-dyed” in various soft pastels. I dyed muslin (real honest-to-goodness cheap muslin) in a lilac colour, to use with my precious lace.  Cream satin ribbon was used to trim the colour blocking, and little bows at the end of some of the satin ribbon lines finished it off…with a few pearl beads above each bow (which do not show on the picture) completing the detail.  I felt like an absolute princess in that dress and wore it to pieces as a church dress. (We really still did not mind dressing up for church in those days!)

But I must include my Mom in my reminisces of “dresses of years past”.  After all, it was on her treadle-Pfaff that I taught myself to sew!

ma en clari voortrekker rok


This is her, with me in a “Volkspele” (traditional Afrikaner folk dancing) dress she sewed for me to wear in the school concert when I was six.  She also made her own dress for the evening, and I thought she looked like a queen.  I also remember that at the concert that night, there was another lady with a dress from the same fabric as my Mom’s!  Well, that happens if you live in a town which really had only one “General Dealer” selling dress fabric!

And a final picture:  This is my Mom with us three girls wearing aprons she made for us as Christmas presents, 1999.  She was in remission from cancer at that time, but died a few years later.  I still have that apron.  I wear it and use it; it was not made to be mothballed!


That is the thing, with clothes.  They are not made JUST to be admired, are they…they are made to wear, to enjoy, to live life in.


EDIT: And then, of course, there was the ultimate sewing project in my life. The epic matric farewell dress of 2016.


5 thoughts on “Snapshots from a Lifelong Journey

  1. Lovely post! I love the print on the Butterick dress. And your wedding dress is fabulous! My sister turned her handmade wedding dress into a Halloween costume! LOL I still have my handmade wedding dress. I am hoping to get photos of it before it falls apart … but I can’t fit into it anymore! Maybe I can get my daughter to model it? Is that bad luck?

    Liked by 1 person

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