My mother’s style

It was Mother’s Day here last weekend. So naturally, there was a Mum Challenge this week over at The Sew Weekly!

The Facts

Fabric: The top is made of a half-metre remnant of an odd quilted knit, some sort of blend, that has been in my stash for years and I think came from my mothers stash before that. The skirt is about 1.5 metres of a rough woven fabric (not sure what though – cotton/linen/blend?) that’s also been in my stash for years and probably came from my mothers stash before that. Pale grey nylon lining for the skirt ~$6.
Pattern: Both top and skirt were self-drafted.
Year: 2011
Notions: Invisible zip in the skirt, ~$3; lace flowers on the top (no idea where I got them from, so I’m listing them as no cost), and broderie anglaise lace on the back of the top ~$0.50.
Time to complete: Around 1.5 hours for the top, and just over 1 hour for the skirt.
Will I wear it? I’m not 100% sure about the top (it’s not really my style or colour) but I think that, surprisingly, I will wear the skirt.

Total cost: Around $0.50 for the top and around $9 for the skirt.

When I think of my mum as I was growing up, I think of soft blues, white, chambray denim, floral, touches off lace, mid-calf-length skirts (usually gored), semi-fitted tops, hand knitted jerseys, and sensible shoes. As she’s gotten older, her overall style has stayed much the same, although she’s started to wear a lot of bright reds as well, but I thought I’d take my inspiration this week from my memories from the colours she wore a lot when I was younger. Sadly I don’t have many photos as my photo albums are all (ironically enough) at my mother’s place down in the South Island, but here’s one from when I was a child:

What can I say – it was around 1988. And although I normally wouldn’t let this photo see daylight, it’s the only one I have handy of my mum from when I was younger! It’s also one of the few we have of us all together – ever since we started moving out of home, it’s become nearly impossible to get all five of us siblings in the same country at the same time, let alone in the same place for a photo! (One of the last family portraits we attempted was done in two sections a few months apart – the boys one month, and the girls a few months later, as we weren’t all in New Zealand at the same time.)

The jerseys that my dad and the two oldest of my brothers were wearing were made by my mum. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the cardigan’s that she and my baby sister are wearing were made by her as well. My mother is rather skilled with the knitting needles, and still keeps us (and anyone she knows who has a baby) well supplied with lovely hand-knitted jerseys. I have about 7 of them at the moment myself (she even makes them with extra-long sleeves for me – yay! Thanks, mum!). She used to sew a lot of our clothes as well – back when I was in primary school I had a lot of outfits made by my mother. But then there were five of us kids, and funnily enough she ran out of time for much sewing! She was the person who first taught me how to sew – back when I was a child, learning how to make scrunchie hairties (remember them?) out of tubes of fabric and elastic. And making dolls clothes as well. All on her old Elna sewing machine, with the different disks you put in for fancy stitches, kind of a version of an early programmable machine I guess (anyone seen those around? It’s the only sewing machine I’ve ever encountered with them – they were heaps of fun to play with when I was a kid!). Her sewing machine was in an old Singer sewing table – I used to love playing and seeing what was in the little drawers down the sides of it (she used to have a fantastic collection of those sew-on embroidered images, you know, little cartoon ducks and sailboats and things like that. Every so often when she made us something to wear, we could choose one of the embroidered decorations to have sewn on it, and it was always such a hard choice!).

It’s hard to see in this photo (since there are so many of us crammed in there!) but my mum has the most lovely Scottish colouring – she’s got slightly olive-toned skin, jet black straight hair (she had a bit of a perm when this photo was taken), and bright blue eyes. Hence the penchant for blue and white clothing – those colours just suit her so well! I’ve always envied my mother’s colouring – sadly neither I nor any of my brothers or sister were lucky enough to inherit it. We all got the more common Scottish colouring, with very pale skin (along with it’s tendency towards sunburning easily), frizzy dark brown hair, and hazel eyes. Oh well. Hence, blues and whites just don’t suit me anywhere near as well as they suit my lovely mother!

My mum’s a bit of a character – she’s full of life, always smiling and laughing and playing, and befriending random strangers on the street. She plays what I call ‘The New Zealand Game’ quite well – meet someone random in a cafe/on a bus/waiting in an airport/waiting to cross the road, strike up a conversation with them, and before a minute has passed she’s discovered who they have in common, no matter where in New Zealand they are. It’s almost uncanny. (And was highly embarrassing when I was a teenager, at that age when anything your parents do is embarrassing. These days, I find it amusing. And I even do it myself at times, and start up random conversations with strangers. I’m not as comfortable with it as my mother is, though, nor do I have her ability to find common ground, and particularly common people, within a very very short space of time!) I guess that’s part of what makes her such a great nurse, and also such an awesome mum.

I call my mum ‘the ultimate mother’ when I describe her to people – she mother’s everyone, always has tins full of home baking and a pot of tea brewing whenever anyone drops by, knits for everyone’s babies (even people she’s never met, such as the daughter of a colleague), grows her own vegetables, and whenever she comes to visit me she brings a chiller bag full of goodies (like a roast from on my parents hobby farm, home baking, home-made cheese rolls, home-made jam, frozen home-made soup (so it won’t spill on the plane!) and one memorable time, a punnet of seedlings she carried on the plane with her).

Wow, I’m waxing on a bit about my mother, aren’t I?! Funny. :-)

Here’s some more photos of her (all quite recent ones – thanks to my lovely sister-in-law Krysha for putting a lot of them up on Facebook, which is where I nicked a lot of them from!)

Yep, my mum’s a bit of a character. She wears Santa hats and snowman bobbly headbands at Christmas time, even when she’s doing the grocery shopping.

You know how I mentioned she mothers everyone? She’s hosted a lot of exchange students as part of that – this is her one Christmas with Sylvia (from Greenland) and Masha (from Russia).

I’ve been learning how to knit a little bit, and whenever mum comes to visit, she teaches me something new. The cardigan I’m wearing here is one she made.

Yep, still being a character! This was at Bryce Canyon in the States – we went to San Diego for my middle brothers (Stuart’s) wedding about three years ago, and my parents, the oldest of my three brothers (James) and I went on a bit of a road trip afterwards around a few of the national parks.

Probably the last time we were all in the same place at the same time – all of us in San Diego for my middle brother Stuart’s wedding three years ago. The lovely lady in white is Stuart’s wife Krysha. The lovely lady in green on the right is Molly, my brother James’ American wife. Funny times – Jenna (my sister) was coming back from her OE in London, so she met us in San Diego. Turns out my family spreads itself around the world quite regularly.

So there we have it – lots of information that you probably weren’t interested in about my mother! But I just couldn’t help it – I kinda love her lots and when I started writing things about her, it was hard to stop. :-)

I should probably write a bit about the outfit, though. So, here you go!

The Outfit

I think both of these fabrics originally came from my mother’s stash. I must admit, I wouldn’t have bought either myself as they’re just not my style. The off-white with flowers looks pretty old, though – I’ve got no idea when it’s from!

I struggled a bit with this challenge – I really wanted to do a blue-and-white floral skirt (since that’s what my mum wears a lot) but I didn’t really have any suitable fabric! Finally I found this stuff in my stash – not what I had in mind, as the flowers were flower-y enough, but near enough. :-) I thought about doing a 6 or 8 gored skirt (as that’s the style my mum wears a lot) but I decided it just wasn’t going to work with this fabric, so it became an a-line mid-calf-length style instead. The fabric is quite see-through, so I lined it in pale grey.

The fabric for the top is quite odd – it’s quilted on both sides, and made up of three layers. Hard to describe. And I’ve never seen anything like it before. It means there isn’t a lot of stretch to it, and despite cutting the top out in a size larger than what I’d normally wear, it was still far too tight. Luckily I had just enough fabric left to insert a panel down the centre back, with lace bordering it! Phew! I stitched the lace down near the seams, but it’s still curling out a bit, so sadly I’m going to have to stitch it down in the middle as well, which I was trying to avoid to prevent the stitching showing. I’m not sure where I got the lace from for the front of the top – it’s a string of large flowers, so I cut three off for the front to mimic the front detail my mum wears on a lot of her tops around the neckline. Perhaps it was part of a stash of vintage patterns and notions I bought off TradeMe a while ago? I’m not too sure, but it’s pretty, anyway. :-)

I’m not 100% sure about this skirt on me – it’s just not really my style. I’m contemplating screen printing a bird onto it to jazz it up a bit….. What do you reckon?

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3 responses to “My mother’s style

  1. Kat, I have loved reading about your Mum, she sounds lovely xx

  2. Pingback: The last days of Me Made June 11 and a recap | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

  3. Pingback: Looking forward, looking back (a.k.a. 2011 and 2012) | Modern Vintage Cupcakes

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