Blogging the Alphabet ~ V

V ~ Velvet

I once made an evening skirt in a deep piled jade green velvet.

I was browsing in Hickeys one lunchtime.

Fabrics and shoes were my passion back then.

I was so thin that walking over a grating* was as dangerous as walking a tight rope over Niagara Falls. Buying clothes off the rails was a nightmare. Back in the middle of the last century, sizes 6, 8 & 10 were unheard of in my world. The only answer was to make my own clothes. On the bonus side, it didn’t take much fabric to make an outfit for a stick insect. 😀

I made skirts. I made trousers, tops, tunics, jackets a tweed overcoat and I made evening dresses. Dress dances were regular events in my social life back then and I made a new dress for most of them.

My browsing in Hickeys always had a routine to it. I began by walking through the racks containing a rainbow wonderland of rolled fabrics just waiting to be stretched out and carefully caressed while the inner eye pictured a completed garment suitable for the colour, weight and type of material.

Day dreaming over, I walked to the area with a large cardboard box or basket with the folded bundled and labelled remnants of fabric.

On a poor day it might be a dozen half-yard samples suitable only for a scarf, while another the end of roll might yield a four or five yard piece just right for that suit pattern sitting on my sewing shelf longing to be made up. Was the fabric single (30”) or double (60”) width? The latter was always the more preferable. Back in those days buying fabric was my chocolate. Yes. Most of it went on my non existent waist! 😉

The jade woven tufted fabric caught my eye and like a week old puppy, it tugged at my heart and there was no leaving the shop without it. It was my colour and I would certainly find a use for it, on the way to the counter to pay, my mind was in overdrive. By the time I reached the office, my plan was hatched – a full length evening skirt with a crochet top….. That wool shop I had discovered the previous week had a good selection of crochet cotton…. if I left work sharpish that evening, I would have time to find the cotton on the way home.

Yes. I had a plan.

To be continued.

18 thoughts on “Blogging the Alphabet ~ V

  1. Ursula

    Grannymar, what a wonderfully evocative piece you wrote. I can so relate to it (though I do have a waist). But by god, yes, I love fabric shops, and John Lewis. In Liberty’s (:London) I am in heaven.

    And, as you say, there is treasure in remnants. A couple of years ago I happened upon a lovely multi coloured lacy piece of fabric. tt didn’t need any sewing. Only scissors. I cut off one length which has become one of my favourite scarves, and the rest Is draped round the curtain pole in my living room. You’d like it.

    How one derives such pleasure from so little.


  2. Delirious

    I’ve been following a really interesting blog that is “refashionista”..or something like that. This woman takes used clothing and remakes them in to something wearable. I bet you would be good at that. It inspires me, and when I return to the States, I think I will try doing some of that myself! 🙂 Oh, here is the link:

  3. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – I am fortunate to have an Aladdin’s cave of wonder about ten miles away with fabrics, notions and haberdashery to die for. I plan a visit for when I am back on two pins and able to drive again.

    Delores – Thanks for the link, I will check it out later when my comments are all sorted.

    Will – Where were you when… there were three in the series.

    Maria G – Glad you enjoyed it. I suppose knitting is more popular here because of the long winters. Crochet is easier to set down and pick up without the bother of losing stitches. You could try a wrap for the cold evenings.

  4. Dianne

    Well this is too facinating. I hope you have a photo of your finished self. I too made all my clothes for several years. Unfortunately, I put lots of good work into cheap fabric. Hopefully, yours turned out better than mine. Looking foward to your next episode. Dianne

  5. gigi-hawaii

    When I was in college, I used to sew my own dresses. Then I got a job and began buying from stores. I gave my sewing machine to my older daughter, because I no longer have the patience to sew. Too bad for me!

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Dianne – I am working on the photo right now. 😀

    Gigi – At least you passed on the sewing machine to your daughter, so many just leave them to gather dust.

  7. bikehikebabe

    In my dressmaking days I was sitting at the pattern counter, holding my head. The salesperson asked if I had a headache & wanted an aspirin.

    No. – I was thinking of THAT pattern, in WHAT? fabric, HOW would it look on me, WHERE could I wear it, did I NEED it. Scratch the need it one. Of course I didn’t need it.

  8. Pingback: Grannymar » V ~ Velvet, Part Two

  9. wisewebwoman

    Boy you give me memories! I still get a catch in my throat when I spot something wonderful in fabric or wool and go off in my inner in what I will create.

    I bought a lovely twist of blue/green/brown wool in Ireland for Grandgirl’s afghan.

    I’m deferring the start of it as I will love it so much.


  10. Grannymar Post author

    BHB – I know that place well. Very well.

    WWW – I know we are kindred spirits in the land of craft and it was wonderful to meet you in real life a few weeks ago.

  11. Barbara

    I have a sewing machine, I have squillions (funny, my spellchecker knows how to spell quintillions but not squillions?) of ideas, but I can’t get my sewing machine to work 🙁 The lady across the road is a seamstress & had a look at it for me, but she can’t either, the thread keeps sticking.

    Marie (pronounced Marie {lol} ) across the road spent ages threading and adjusting things but it keeps sticking. She has recommended that I bring it to a Singer place in West Byfleet to get them to have a look at it. I really must as I want to alter loads of my clothes… I am finally getting fat & no longer fit into my size 6 skirts!! The joys of a happy marriage & not smoking for 12 years…. I now don’t have to limit my shopping to shops that sell size 6! Now if only I could persuade them that it is not just men that need trousers with a 34″ leg!!

    Anyway, I want to learn to sew. I didn’t do ‘home economics’ in school cos I wasn’t planning on becoming a housewife….. Oh the best laid plans…… (They didn’t tell us that even if you don’t get married you still have to eat!!)

    I know it’s late, but i have a creative streak & i’m quite good at fixing things…. I just don’t want to take my machine apart in case it has the same fate of my lovely mickey mouse alarm clock that i ‘fixed’ aged about 5, with loads of spare parts to the bargain….

    Newly inspired by your green skirt story…. watch this space (or rather this one; – which is full of my other projects at the moment!

  12. Grannymar Post author

    Barbara, it is never too late to develop the creative streak. Elly has taken to crochet and knitting and makes cards and jewellery…. in the little spare time she has.

    Like a car it is worth getting a sewing machine serviced on a regular basis. There may be thread caught somewhere inside.

    A tip for the future: Use good thread I like Gutterman. Drima always broke my needles.

    Your mum should have a photo somewhere in that skirt and top she borrowed it once for a rather major do. I was chuffed that she asked to wear it.

  13. Barbara

    I don’t remember a photo of her in the skirt, but a lot of mum’s photos at parties are in black & white. I used to spend hours pouring over the photo albums. I’m sure I recognise the photo you have cropped, is mum in the blue dress beside you?

  14. Grannymar Post author

    Tilly – A friend, now a sister-in-law, and I had regular haunts for fabric bargains and sewing needs. We kept one another informed of what was available. We had fun and at the end of the day a new outfit!


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