Diane was one of my subjects for a piece of research on learning to sew at school in the 1940s and ’50s. A lifelong devotee, she still sews her clothes today and is pleased that her eyesight is still good enough at 79 to handsew invisible stitches.
Diane: Gradually at school… we… did all sorts of sewing. Samplers and antimacassars and then… as we… progressed [gestures upwards here] to the senior school we made aprons to use in cookery there and [trails off] In the first year of school we made clothes for ourselves [4 second pause, gestures movements of using a hand cranked sewing machine] and that set me really for life.
Ingrid: Did you get taught to do that [sew from a pattern] at school? Is that
Diane: [both speak at same time] Well, I was taught…
Ingrid: …the basis of…
Diane: Well I was taught how to cut out… how to cut out, um, patterns at school. And… we sewed blouses and things like that… but it was in me somehow [emphasises words and concurrently clasps hands to her heart]
Diane: When I was about…I suppose I must have been about thirteen, our teacher, was getting married. And that was…[quieter voice] thirteen, so that’s, thirty, forty, what do you think…forty-nine, something like that… just after the war.
[louder once more] she brought in her trou- trousseau to be, um, sewn. [proudly] So I was the one who sewed all of the seams, by hand. She, uh, must of thought that I was good enough to do it, because… well my little hemming stitches were perfect [huge, beaming smile]