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Health, Beauty & Fashion

Sew nice

Be it polka-dotted prints or floral designs, there’s bound to be a dress that can bring out the little girl in each grown woman. And it could well be one sewn by you. Or mum.
ST701 Editorial Team - August 4, 2009
By: Linda Lee
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Sew nice

I’m currently into dresses. 

So there’s only one way my mix-and-match ensemble can go now – out of the window. (Metaphorically speaking, of course; I won’t fancy airing my dirty linen in public ala the style of Reverend Ming Yi with the skeletons from his closet.)

Now I don’t know what hit me, but it (the dress bug) just came one day and swept me off my feet, as did the H1N1 flu bug that suddenly visited and gave many the cold feet.

While I squandered my salary on this fresh pursuit, a nagging feeling stood at the entrance of my consciousness and peered at me. For some reason, I felt strange that for someone who used to dislike wearing dresses, I seem to have a renewed interest in them now. I suppose this may have something to do with mum, who used to make ends meet by working from home as a seamstress when I was a kid.

Every morning, I would open my eyes to see the silhouette of a skilled artisan working on her carbon cutting sheets. But before she proceeds to make another girl’s day with the spiffy dresses she create, she always makes it a point to first brighten my day by first dressing me for school. It was only when mum’s done with sprucing me up would she continue to cut up drapes of multi-coloured fabrics for assembly later on. This would usually keep her occupied right up till the evening , when she have to abandon her craft and scurry away to prepare dinner for our family of five.

Most often than not, I would get to choose and keep the dresses she made. On some occasions, I could even request for custom-made designs to call my own! Cute little dresses in baby-pink, tangerine and sky-blue hues; cartoonish, polka-dotted and checkered prints; floral and laced designs…I had them all. Although some of these dresses could not compare to the exquisite ones sold at department shops (that was what I thought as an impressionable kid; I beg to differ now), they kept me warm through my growing years.

Perhaps, it’s a sign of nostalgia. Or age. Don’t we all only start to look at things in perspective when maturity finally manages to find its way to the deep abysses of our subconscious minds?

In retrospect, I applaud mum for being the steadfast sartorial guru that she is (and not to mention multi-tasking homemaker, too). I seriously don’t think my future children will ever be wearing clothes made by me any time soon, although there’s a current uptrend in Singapore which sees young women turning to making their own clothes from scratch.

Indeed, dressmaking is no longer the province of bored housewives and auntie types. Professional young ladies are also sewing up a storm. According to a feature story published in The Straits Times’ Urban a few years back, this DIY movement is fast gathering followers who are looking to distress, save money, plus personalise their clothes to feel the therapeutic sensation and satisfaction of feeling a hand-made item against their skin.

Interestingly, an estimated 20 - 30 per cent of hobby dressmakers consist of those juggling full-time jobs concurrently. It is believed that many are signing up for classes to achieve a long-term business goal, especially if they want to change jobs and enter the fashion industry, or get a feel of the process before opening their own (online) boutiques.

But back to where I started, my interest in dresses ends in buying - and not actually sewing - them. I suppose that’s good news for my virtual tots: I'd probably save them the humiliation of wearing garbage handmade garb; for I believe I’ll never be as accomplished a tailor as mum, if my dismal home economics results were anything to go by.

I think I'm better off creating other memories for my future offspring and me to cherish. But for now, this and other unique qualities of mum are good enough for ours to relish.

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