I was lucky to grow up with my grandmother who sewed. She not only sewed my mother’s, aunt’s and uncle’s school uniforms growing up but she also sewed all of mine, down to the navy blue bloomers I wore until I was six. Looking back, I am proud to be part of that legacy. My uniforms were top notch from the cut to the seams down to the hidden zipper at the front. The fabric was the best as it did not show sweat marks after playing an hour in the hot island sun. I always passed after lunch inspection.
From my memories, it seemed she was always sewing. Her quality fabrics and threads were kept, if not guarded, in the grey suitcase above her closet. Right next to it, there was another suitcase of keepsakes including mementos from my infancy. It is poetic that piece of me was right next to her precious sewing but she wanted me to have none of her sewing. Education came first in her eyes.
She left the countryside of Manchester at age twelve to learn sewing in Kingston from a Chinese seamstress lady. Her and her sisters’ trades were chosen for them early and it would be their life’s work. I wonder how she would feel about my crocheting and sewing; my singer sewing machine featured prominently in my studio apartment as it did in her bedroom. Education is still priority but how could I not follow in her footsteps.
My childhood was filled of pieces of fabric on my grandmother’s bedroom floor and pins which I loved to use her raw iron magnet to pick up. There were also the little balls of used pieces of thread never to be part of my grandmother’s masterpieces. Most memorable of all were the two old singer sewing machines, pedal pushers, that were kept covered and in mint condition. I was in awe of them and I wonder today where those precious heirlooms are.
I will always remember how stylish my grandmother was and how her closet was a virtual trophy case of all the beautiful clothes she made for herself. I hope to be at the least half as stylish as she was and half as talented.