These unassuming books contain a snapshot into a past when sewing was a highly crafted skill, taught with care and attention to detail, before domestic sewing machines were readily available and when life had a slower pace. I was so very lucky to be gifted these amazing books from my Mother in Law, these were from her Aunty, Phyllis Woodrow. Phyllis was an exceptional lady who lived in an era so different to ours, unfortunately her life was cut very short, however her legacy shall live on with the contents of these pages.
Phyllis and her siblings grew up in Lithgow, NSW during the early 1900's. Phyllis' older sister (my partners grandmother) will shortly celebrate her 100th birthday, we are lucky enough to be told the stories from a living member of this amazing family.
pictured Nana May, Phyllis' sister
A small drawing book covered in brittle brown paper contains the careful and thoughtful work of a very talented sewist, from over 80 years ago. The beautifully preserved pages hold a moment in time, when the world was very different. They are the personal work of Phyllis and show the progression she made while taking sewing classes in Lithgow. Starting with simple stitches, all done by hand designed to perfect her skill before moving on to complicated stitches some that have long since been replaced by modern sewing machines.
There are 17 pages each containing carefully stitched fabric samples, every one labelled. Starting with running stitch and finishing with an underwear placket. Her turned in French seams and Loop stitch are amazing, her shaped facing has the tiniest most perfect stitches I have ever seen. The gathers and French gathers still have rusty pins in them and are just beautiful. But the smocking, shirring and pintuck pages are breathtaking.
This book is a treasure that I feel so grateful to have in my home. A special part of Phyllis, her hopes, her dreams for her future career and her life are encased in every stitch in this book. Sometimes I carefully open the pages and look at her work to remind myself that life is so very short and what we leave behind is important. Being creative is so much a part of who we all are, be sure to leave something behind that you created with care and love. I truly hope that this book remains an inspiration for generations to come. Eve