Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things my Grandmother Taught Me

Trixie Collage 1

My grandmother was a very capable woman. She could make the most drab and lifeless rental house become a beautiful and tastefully decorated home, using (I’m sure) nothing more than some rubber-bands and safety pins. OK, well maybe it was that she was marvel at the sewing machine, and had an eye for the potential beauty of an old and unloved piece of furniture in the junk shop.

In her early teens she made clothes for herself and younger sister; and in her late teens she became model u lidapprentice to the famous Melbourne milliner Thomas Harrison. Then after marrying and having children, she invented ‘Model Yu’; a custom dress making body cast tailor’s dummy which ensured a perfect fit to your body, without any dials getting in the way when doing the pinning. In the days of WWII her invention was economical, relevant and very successful. She travelled Australia and New Zealand demonstrating it. As I said, she was a very capable woman.

Of course, she taught my mother to sew; who then taught me. And there were rules to follow when sewing to ensure a crisp, professional finish. These are the things that my grandmother taught me.

Never cut and sew on the same day:
Allow one day for cutting and a second day for sewing. If you try to sew on the same day as you cut, you are more likely to make mistakes.

Press every time you sew: The mantra is press press press! You can’t iron too much! Every time you finish sewing a section, iron it to ensure a crisp, professional finish.

Clean your sewing machine with a feather: Yes, that’s right. When you are out for a walk, keep a look out for a long wing feather. They are perfect for cleaning the fluff away from around your bobbin holder, as they are strong, flexible and nature has provided microscopic little hooks which grab the fluff!

Match colours in daylight: When picking thread to match your fabric, go outside – NEVER use artificial light. This might mean dragging the shop assistant outside with you, but accuracy is more important than dignity, right?

Get out your knitting needle: When turning things the right way out, use your big knitting needle (for creating your chunky knits) to gently but firmly push out all the corners properly.

So tell me, what did your grandmother teach you?

Cheers, Chicken


  1. Great post and your Grandmother sounds like a woman to admire! My Gran was in business for a long time and has inspired me and my two businesses. I hope to in turn inspire my daughter!

    Its amazing how such valuable skills are passed on from generation to generation.

  2. Wonderful! My Grandmother is a wonderful person. She has taught me so many things. She also taught my Mum how to sew, who then became a dress maker specialising in bridal and formal sewing. My Mum then taught me, and now I've gone from sewing for my boys, to sewing things to sell online and at the markets. She's also taught me many life skills and given me lots of yummy recipes! Once as a young girl, I tried to cook like Grandma, who never needed to measure things in her regular recipes, but I found out in the finished product that it took her many many times to perfect that! I was very blessed to grow up around the corner from my Grandmother. Grandma's are very special people.

  3. i so agree with the don't cut and sew on the same day... things always run smoother if i do them a day apart

    and unfortunately have to agree on the ironing!!

    she sounds like a great woman

  4. This is great - everything on that last is absolutely true... but you've been lucky to have been taught that, somehow I've managed to figure it out by trial and error. Mainly error :)

  5. My nan always said to butter bread to the edges, the EDGES, and heaven help anyone who cut corners and just spread a bit here and there.
    It was mum who taught me to sew, not nan, but nan taught me calligraphy instead.
    Leonie @ porkchop

  6. what a sweet post! My grandmother's didn't get to pass on anything to me: my parents were the youngest on both sides so they were very old by the time I was old enough to learn.

    I'm going to take all your grandmother's tips on board, thanks for sharing :)

  7. Lovely post :).

    My Grandmother taught me how to bet on the horses at the races. She loved her little tipple at the races. It was very useful when in my early 20's when going to the races for a session was huge, I could count on Grandma to give me a good tip :)

    Sorry now sewing or baking stories my Grandma never did that, in fact I can never remember her cooking ever, but she could crochet :)

  8. I love this topic!

    My grandmother taught me to buy good quality, handmade clothing and accessories and take good care of them to make them last a lifetime. She taught me that classic never goes out of style, and that a piece of jewellery can never be too loud if it's beautiful.

  9. My grandmother taught me that when sewing, if you make a mistake because you are getting tired, fix that mistake then stop.

    Don't keep going or you will make more mistakes, and don't leave a mistake un-fixed or you will be reluctant to go back to the job the next day.

  10. Christine - My mum and I both agree that your grandmother gave you GOLD advice there!

    Thanks everyone for your comments!


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