Sewing for Vin, and a bit about the Lady that made me ME!

By Max California - March 01, 2010

So I finally have my own little computer nook in the dining room. It's pretty great because I use the dining table for my pattern drafting + fabric cutting ((even if it is too low. Do any of you guys get Sewer's Back?)) so I have ANOTHER room I have taken over. Well I have started catching up on all the blogs I used to follow, and damn if they don't just INSPIRE me. Not just with being crafty, but just with being a good mother in general. And to take the effort to take great photos. Well all this inspiration has flown from me and now to my mother!

Let me tell you about my mum first.

My Aunty, My Oma, My Uncle + My Opa. Doesn't my uncle look like Vincent!

She is the strongest, most amazing, inspirational woman I have and probably will ever know. I should probably write a book about her. She was born to dutch immigrants in 1955 and from the word go she had a bit of a hard time in the world. She was the middle child, and the first child in the family to be born in Australia ((She has an older sister and brother, and a younger sister + brother)). She was also the first one born with obvious birth defects. My mummy was born with a cleft palate and a hare lip.

My Oma couldn't breastfeed her, so the hospital sent her home and said if she lives, then we will operate on her when she is older, but she'll probably die. My Opa, the handiest man ever I think ((he built a house once. An. Entire. House.)) had sheep, and they would feed the lambs with these special teats. Well my Opa took the teat off a lamb bottle and put it on a beer bottle ((now my memory of past events sometimes plays tricks on me. So maybe it was just a regular bottle, not a beer bottle. But the beer bottle sounds funner and more inventive!!)) and lo + behold my mum could drink from it! She grew up and my Oma would catch the train for hours and hours from Ballarat to Melbourne where the big hospital was so mum could get operations.

 That's my mum as a tot with her grandfather she called Parker

You know she doesn't even know how many operations she has had? She can't even count them?

So she grew up always feeling like she was ugly and being the middle child had lots of unresolved feelings. But I mean, she made ME, she can't be as useless as she once thought!

Mum moved to Perth with her younger brother, and she ended up moving next door to this rebellious skinny biker dude. She was HORRIFIED when my Uncle Steve made friends with this guy. I mean, this guy had a BEARD AND A MOUSTACHE. He rode a TRIUMPH motorcycle. There is a photo of my uncle Steve and this guy cleaning beer bottles to make a beer wall.

And you know what makes all this even crazier!?

That guy next door, well he's my dad! So mum + dad got married, had a cute wedding I replicated in my own way :), then had me and my sister. Mum started making clothes for us, because it was cheaper. Heck that lady even made MY UNDERWEAR! From scrap fabrics.

I remember running into Oma + Opa's house one day and lifting my skirt up to show off my new knickers I was so proud of. I kept telling Opa how they were made from scraps! Hahah, he was proud too. And thought I was hilarious.

 That's Me in the yellow. She made my dress. HOW CUTE IS IT?

She made mine + Betty's school uniforms when it changed when I was in grade 3. She made the first one which was a test run which ended up being mine! I had white buttons, and everyone else had navy.

As I grew older, my interest in sewing grew. She taught us to sew when I was about 8, and we'd make Cabbage Patch Doll clothes, and if one of our dolls had a hole in it, we'd all pretend we were doctor's and she'd stitch them right up.

Everything that was in fashion/all the kids were wearing at the time, she did her best to replicate ((remember Skorts?)).

   Betty + I dancing. She made our t-shirts and our shorts that a skirt flap across them. We were thrilled because they looked like we were wearing mini skirts

She did her best and man did she do well.

Because during those years since I was born until I was about 16, my mum had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and terrible, terrible depression. Then my dad got CFS and depression also. We had very little money, but I don't have any memories of missing out on anything at all. We had what we needed and mum and dad did their best to give us what we wanted.

Then my uncle Steve who is a naturopath anf my aunty joy worked together and made my mum well. And she has never looked back. She gets up at 5.30am with Vinnie and takes him + Cino the dog for a 1.5 hour walk around neighbourhood. She picks wild dandilion and herbs and things Oma taught her to pick when she was young to make lovely herbal tea with. She goes to work where she works for Disability Services Queensland and looks after people who have intellectual disabilities. She has, since the start of this year, been eating 100% raw and almost completely Vegan ((She does eat some honey to sweeten things)). She is go go go and she never stops.

Anyway, the whole point of me telling you how great my mum is, is to also point out to you that I am unknowingly becoming more + more like her every day. And it's not even a bad thing. Even before Vincent I'd find myself doing things and I'd stop for a moment and go "HEY! This is something mum would do"

Well she has these old-as-the-hills sewing books written by Enid Gilchrist in the 1940s. One of them she had two of, so I snagged it. Even though they look identical, there's a few pages that are different. They were written back before you could amazingly cheap baby stuff, and it showed mummy's how to make patterns from absolute scratch. Literally from a 0. My mum has been drafting patterns from her Burda books ((have you ever seen one from the 80s? It looks like a freaking roadmap. And you had to follow a certain coloured line and use carbon paper to transfer it to your butcher paper)) since before I can remember, and I guess she started with these when I was tiny!

Yesterday and today I have been super inspired by Dana from MADE's Celebrate the BOY month and started pulling out all my fabrics that would be masculine and not sissy and certainly not fabric that Tim would go, "mmmm, bit girlee..." and now I have an entire pile of fabric I'm just itching to start cutting up. But I have to rein myself back a bit and make the patterns first! Yesterday I made a lined little waistcoat for Vincent, and some red flannelette pyjama pants with spiders on them. Today I made Vin a little black + white checked western cowboy shirt, and I've started drafting up a pyjama top for him ((you know like little boys have with the collar and button-up front?)). It's going to look ADORABLE in Vincent size.

Oh and I'm sorry to leave you guys hanging, but I'll have to wait until tomorrow to show you guys pictures of Vincent modelling his new gear.

With all the sewing stuff everywhere, it wasn't long before my mummy was telling me about a pair of brown velveteen-like cordorouy overalls she once made me from an Enid Gilchrist book. She even opened up the page and showed me the exact one she made. And I REMEMBER them. not in real life, but I've seen me in them in photos ((I'll have to scan some in to show you!)). So Mum decides she's going to make a black plaid pair for Vincent.

Let me tell you I am ECSTATIC that she is sewing with me. I've been using her machine, as my little sister Betty has mine in Brisbane still, but as soon as I get mine back oooo-weee it will be like a sweat shop.

It's crazy how life just seems to go in a big loop. Here I am drafting patterns for my boy, and who knows, maybe one day he'll be drafting patterns for his kids!

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  1. Your Mum sounds like an absolutely amazing person. It was really cool of you to share her story with us!

  2. Your mother is wonderous!
    You, also wonderous.


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