This week I’ve had a little industry set up making baby dungarees. With a boy to sew for, my fabric choices have suddenly boomed. Not that I’ve always had my two little girls dressed head to toe in pink, but there is a bit of a princess/flower/teddy theme for the most part. No more. Super fabric is made for boys, from tanks and trains to material covered with all types of creepy crawlies realistic enough to have any mother in a flap batting them away. This time I settled for one with cars, one with chocolates, two french fashion prints and an emergency service print. Pretty exciting.
Sadly I don’t tend to have the time to make my own clothes. When I did, I used to make myself a fair few period clothes. I like the individuality of making and designing clothes, to know I’m never going to meet anyone wearing the same dress or shirt.
I do wonder sometimes whether that would have happened to any of the tonne. Would any of the ladies recoiled in horror as the entered the ballroom as another woman waltzed past them wearing the exact same dress. It seems pretty unlikely. I think any modiste worth her salt wouldn’t do exact copies of dresses, she’d make sure there was something different in each one. An extra ruffle, a extra pleat, some small detail changed. And to honest, when you’re handsewing getting things to look exactly the same is no easy task, believe me, especially if you are rusing to meet an ambitious deadline set by some demanding lady.
I like to make sure all my heroines can sew. Sewing isn’t really that difficult, and at a time when clothes would be very expensive, I think mending would be a skill all mothers would want to instill in their daughters, and would be a skill likely to be appreciated by husbands and fathers more than a dubious talent for watercolours.
In the following snippet from Held in the Balance, Lydia is about to demonstrate her mending skills….
Remembering the excuse she’d thought up, Lydia stepped back from the door and routed through her reticule, pushing past charcoal pencils to find a rather grubby needlework kit. Needle and silk at the ready, she just needed a rented hem and her presence would be explainable even if the ladies retiring room would have been a more obvious place to re-stitch the trailing piece. She jammed her low heel into the fine silk of her skirt and jerked the fabric upwards with a satisfying rip.
“Am I intruding?”
Lydia gritted her teeth at Simon’s gentle tones. Now she had no chance of spying upon Lord Goodall and had a torn hem to boot. Perfect. She span around, needlework kit clutched in one fist and made no attempt to smooth out her creased skirts. “Intruding? Of course not, I always like an audience while I attempt to do mending.”