I have always viewed fashion as a way of expression, but this can mean different things, for different people. In my eyes fashion has been my life and that all came from my very own Fairy ‘Grandmother’.
From being little I always was in awe of my grandma Dorothy, she had her own sewing room, where she would make me dresses and clothes to wear, and to stand out from the crowd. The first and one of the most memorable nights was Halloween 2006. I was a witch, but I wasn’t wearing a plain costume like you would normally imagine a witch to have. My grandma had other ideas…
She brought her grand sewing machine down from her flat up the street, and hauled numerous fabrics with colours of green, blue and pink and gold metallic details under her arm to make my costume stand out from everyone else’s. She wanted the night to be special and that is what it was.
I can remember being mesmerised by the colour of the details and the feel of the fabrics through my small five-year-old hands. It was like a fairytale, my grandma measured me against the fabric in the dining room then set to work in the kitchen sewing my costume up, whilst my mam attempted to do what seemed like an inn keeper’s makeup on me, even though she’s still adamant that it was a witch that she was aiming for.
I felt powerful in my witch’s costume, a black and metallic gold dress paired with the most magical cape which was black with rainbow iridescent patches all over it. I felt like I could take over the world in everything my grandma made me. From butterfly denim pants, to costumes for Geography -themed days at school and my primary school dresses, I felt more confident than ever before. Posing for my dad’s camera when he took photos of me with my mam. I never took that witch’s costume off for a year, using scrap material from it as a headband.
My love for fashion definitely stemmed from being my grandma’s shadow, learning about patterns and how to cut and sew them to create gorgeous designs. Going to the haberdashery in John Lewis in Newcastle and Dainty Supplies in Washington were the best days, helping my grandma pick out the best fabrics for her patterns. It was like Aladdin’s cave.
She taught me how to sew and knit in the school holidays and we always watched the sewing programmes on BBC. The smell and warmth of the endless cups of tea me and my grandma used to have, will always be a part of me for the rest of my life.
The best trousers I have ever worn in my life and still love to this day are the denim pants my grandma made for me. They were straight leg, blue denim pants with pink butterflies sewed down the legs and I was obsessed with them for what seems like forever. I can still remember the very day my grandma handed to me them to try in her sewing room in her flat and I ran to try them on. I loved them so much I begged my grandma to take pictures of me in them.
Around four years ago, my grandma turned her passion for handbags into making them. From messenger bags to even a copy of a Mulberry clutch bag, my grandma made them all, and even wrote up her own pattern for a bag.
By the time my grandma had worked her way through every bag pattern she could find, her hall was drowning in handmade bags of all shapes and sizes. From the day she started making handbags, every time she made a new bag, I used to dance around her living room and strutting as if I was on a catwalk, proudly showing off her creations.
I was always at my grandma’s flat helping her with sewing up a new pattern or something she was working on from her sewing class that she attended until she was 84 years old. Her own little workshop room in her flat had a bottomless number of patterns, books, threads, with her sewing machine and overlocker sitting proudly at the table where her creations were born.
My grandma’s legacy to me is the ability to use a sewing machine and the ability to create and make things for myself. I inherited most of her handmade handbags, as well as most of her sewing patterns and of course her sewing machine and sewing kit. I will always hold a special place in my heart the times spent with my grandma in her sewing room, watching and learning for hours on end about sewing and making clothes from the heart.