I could sew before I could write and yet I was not taught as although my mum could sew on a button or repair a falling hem she had no interest in creating. I am led to believe she did knit some things for me as a child but again it was out of necessity and I had some knitted toys but that was a cheaper option for those days than purchasing. My paternal grand mother was an avid knitter and knit lots of clothes for her grandchildren. I was so keen on sewing I even wondered myself why. She said that her mother was a wonderful needlewoman, Lily Best (nee McFall) photo above (died approx 1926). This was the first I was aware of anyone in the family with an interest in decorative sewing. However since she died young not long after the birth of her third child her husband remarried and all was lost of any of her possession.this is a photocopy of the original sepia photograph but when my grandmother died the photograph vanished as I would have loved a proper copy.
I later learned that my Granda Austins mother, Susan Atkinson, had also been a great seamstress but this was passed along again with no other evidence as his parents were estranged when he was a young child. Is it possible I have inherited my interests genetically from my two great grand mothers whom I never met?
At home I sewed clothes for my dolls with large rough tacking stitches and safety pins from anything I could find such as old clothes and handkerchieves that had fancy lace or embroidered edges. In primary school, I think it would have been primary three we had needlework classes and I was in my element. Mrs O'Malley was old in my eyes, then as an eight yr old and incredibly strict but this didn't put me off it encouraged me all the more. We made sewing samplers on large coloured Aida and practising new stitches with coloured floss.
My only complaint was that we didn't do it often enough. We progressed from here to embroidering felt pieces that came together to form a felt hen that we stuffed with kapok.
I hated the kapok as it got everywhere and made me sneeze. I still have these items. I joined the girls brigade and this gave me other opportunities to get involved in sewing. I completed my Duke of Edinburgh awards bronze, silver and gold through 1st N.Ireland Girls brigade and it was through this I did embroidery projects and dressmaking.