As mentioned above I was using the sewing machine to make my own clothes before I started big school.
At age eleven I remember being well ahead of the rest of the needlework class when our first task was to make aprons for our cookery classes by attaching cotton tape to rubberised cloth in four places. What on earth was everyone else playing at; what was taking them so long?! There wasn't any hemming to do and no pocket on the front!
I used to let my classmates use the electric machines thinking it would speed them up. But I hadn't realised how inept some of the other girls were. It was a pointless idea if they didn't know what they were doing in the first place! There was always a lot of screaming as the machines 'ran away with them'.
I happily used the hand-cranked machines; I loved using them, and couldn't wait to get to class and use one. I was in my own little sewing world; nothing else mattered. Least of all what Mrs Elias, the needlework teacher, thought of me. I was a pig in shit!
Mrs Elias was a large lady who used her ample bosom as a demonstration table. Her mantra was "is it sufficiently pinned?". I was always inadvertently pissing her off by questioning this pinning and tacking regime and making what I thought were messy chalk marks everywhere. It all seemed to me to be a waste of time, chalk and thread.
When we moved on to making nightdresses I remember going with mum to the haberdashery shop and choosing a complicated pattern with facings and self cords, and picking a fabric that required french seams and pattern matching, just that would keep me busy in class. But again, I finished my item well ahead of the others. All there was left to do was the hem... Mrs Elias nearly blew a gasket when I hemmed it by machine rather than hand-sewed it. I told her that I had discussed it with my mother and we'd decided a machined hem was better for a long item meant to be worn in bed because it was less likely the hem would snag and a toe would get caught in it. I can still hear her screaming "Does you mother want to come and take this class?!"
I actually used to like my needlework classes but have nothing left to show for them now. I remember a lovely jeans-style skirt that I made complete with front and back pockets. The panels alternated with dusty pink and mauve brushed denim. Sadly, no pictures of this very 1970s item exist now.
Mum taught me much more than Mrs Elias did and I did not continue to take the subject at O level. Mrs Elias wasn't what you'd call inspiring or encouraging.
But I didn't really need encouraging... I went on to make lined suits and jackets, dressing gowns, dresses of varying shapes and styles, trousers, shorts, shirts, tops blouses and all sorts. I still do. But these days I start things and never really finish them.
The first three pics show tops and a dress using a basic pattern I used to change/adapt every time. The blue skirt just glimpsed in the first pic was a fond favourite; using lots of material with a pleated waist (my waist was tiny then). Then there's the shiny party dress I made for a Christmas do, followed by a white T-shirt dress (one of many in various colours), the drill long army/jean-style jacket which had a matching fitted skirt (I had a successful job interview wearing that suit), and finally, the waistcoat that went with everything.
Many other fondly-remembered garments cannot ever be shown here because I have no photographic evidence, and the garments have vanished over time.
I still cannot fathom what happened to the lined suit of ivory herringbone-weave raw silk comprising wrap skirt and the double-breasted matching jacket with roll collar/lapels ... what did I do with that? Where did it go? Did i just give it to charity? There was enough material in there to revamp it into something else. Just not like me to discard things.
I dunno. I think when I moved out of my mum's house to start my new independent life, I probably had a purge. I probably threw away my old school books at that time too. Ooh how stupid. But at the time we think it's for the best.