These blog posts where I ask an author to talk about their favourite ornaments are very popular, but once again I found myself in tears preparing this one!
This week we have Evonne Wareham talking about her mother’s dressmaking shears …
Thank you Morton for inviting me on to the blog today to talk about a favourite ornament.
When I was looking around the house to pick something out, it struck me how many of the things in my home have come to me from family members. There are vases that I use regularly which were inherited from my grandmothers, old tools from my Dad, a wooden keepsake box belonging to my great grandmother, who died in the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, two aspidistra plants, one from my grandmother and one from my great aunt, which have to be getting on for hundred years old. I’m still managing to keep them alive, although they do scare me sometimes when the leaves mysteriously turn brown. I have all these things and more, which I treasure, but I don’t have a story for any of them.
So I’ve cheated a bit, as what I have chosen is not exactly an ornament, but it is something that I have known all my life – my mother’s dressmaking shears. It is the single thing, above anything, that represents her to me, as it was never far away from her. A very personal tool of her trade. I think she had it when she was apprenticed at the age of fourteen, which means it is probably about eighty five years old. She absolutely loved sewing; it was in her bones, the way writing seems to be in mine. She earned her living at it and she made and altered clothes for three generations of the family with that scissors. It’s made party dresses, wedding dresses, school uniform, pyjamas, coats, suits, bathrobes, fancy dress costumes, curtains, cushions…
Once I was grown up and away from home, whenever I told her I had any kind of event or celebration on the horizon her first question was always, ‘What am I going to make you to wear?’ If I saw a style I liked and couldn’t get a pattern, mum would cut her own. She used to get grumpy sometimes if there were fiddly details on styles that I chose. ‘You won’t want the pocket and the epaulettes.’ Deflated daughter nods and slinks off.
She had a huge stash of all sorts of fabric, which I have also inherited. That’s an occupational addiction, like writers have books and stationery. She already had enough fabric in store during the Second World War, at age nineteen, to be able to clothe herself, my grandmother and my aunt for the whole duration.
In her later years the shears lived on the table beside the sofa, but she still managed to misplace them on occasions. That would be the first thing, as soon as I got through the door.
‘I can’t find my scissors.’
‘Where were you when you last had them?’
A hunt would then ensue. Down the back of the settee was a favourite. If I didn’t manage to locate the goods at the first try there would be disgruntled promotion of a less favoured pair, until the rightful ones turned up. And obviously, they always did.
Almost the last thing she made me was an evening dress, to take to America for the gala ball at a big romance convention. She adapted a pattern, and the dress was very simple, but covered in sequins. I was vacuuming up the little blighters from her place and mine for months afterwards. When she’d finished she was very pleased with it. She’d learned something, as she had never worked with all-over sequins before. She was ninety three. I understood something then – you should never stop adding to your skills, if you can. And doing what you love is one of the most important things in life.
After she died, five years ago, I put the shears away, because every time I saw at them I cried. I went looking for them to do this piece and found that now things are okay. I’ve put them on the shelf with the ornaments and the vases, so thank you, Morton, for letting me realise that now I could do that.
What a lovely post and a lovely dress – I shed a tear preparing this Mx
About Evonne Wareham
Evonne is an award winning Welsh author of romantic suspense – more crime and dead bodies than your average romance. She likes to set her book in her native Wales, or for a touch of glamorous escapism, in favourite holiday destinations in Europe. She is a Doctor of Philosophy and an historian, and a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association.
About A Wedding on the Riviera
A return to the Riviera on the trail of a runaway groom …
When out-of-work actor Ryan Calder attends a wedding as the plus-one of successful businesswoman, Nadine Wells, he doesn’t expect to get in a scuffle with the groom.
But Ryan has a good reason. He recognises the groom from another wedding where the same man made a quick getaway, taking the wedding money and leaving a heartbroken bride in his wake. It seems he’s struck again, and Nadine’s poor friend is the target.
Ryan and Nadine decide they can’t let it happen to another woman, so with a group of friends they hatch a plan that will take them to the French Riviera, hot on the heels of the crooked groom. But could their scheme to bring him to justice also succeed in bringing them closer together?