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This blog has been retired. I won't respond to any inquiries but have retained it in case it is still of interest to anyone passing by.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Clotheshorse of Memories

When I left S Africa and moved to Ireland in 2001 I packed a special box of all my most precious clothing treasures.  The box has remained sealed until this Spring. After 12 years I decided to open this little time capsule again and freshen up some of the items inside - and so I ended up with a clotheshorse of memories..

The box contains an eclectic mix of items.  The oldest are two beautiful 19th century christening robes and a taffeta Victorian traveling dress (yes really!) - all completely handmade.  The most recent is a dirndl I wore during a time I spent in Austria during my 20's (it was a gift.)  In between (amongst other things like my mother's wedding dress - that I used too) are seven little dresses I wore when I was a very young child.  These are what I have decided to show you today. 

When my mom passed away in 1999 I found these dresses as I was sorting through her things.  Only one has a label and was shop bought.  I think all the rest were made by my mom - and when I look at them today I marvel at how beautiful her work was (I can paint and write but I'm a useless seamstress!)

These dresses were not for special occasions but were made for everyday use.  Perhaps it is for that reason I can remember them all so vividly even though I was very young and it was such a long time ago (having photos also helps to keep memories alive!)

As you can see I got a LOT of use out of some of them.  Here I am as a very tiny tot, clutching a little lamb:

And here I am again quite some time later (in child's terms) strolling around a rose garden in the same dress:


The amount of detail in these dresses is amazing.  There are tiny ribbons to gather up the sleeves and little rosebuds embroidered everywhere.  My mom LOVED embroidering rosebuds - I can remember her sewing them onto anything from bookmarks to bed-socks right until she died.

With my grandmother's sister Elma

I'm not sure how my mom dressed me in some of these (it must have been like playing with a doll!)  There are no zips or anything like Velcro.  Instead there are tiny little buttons that I would find quite a challenge if faced with a living child!

I even have this cute little petticoat.  With gathers at the sides and those tiny buttons at the shoulder again.

This is the only dress with a label. It says 'handmade in Madeira in Portugal'.

The two photos above were both taken wearing the dress below.  Of all of these little dresses it is the one I remember the most clearly and I think wore the most often. 

I'm not completely sure but I think I might be wearing the same dress in this next photo.  I'm digressing a bit but I was surprised to discover while looking through my box of old photos how many sea voyages by parents went on when I was a child.  Always on the mail ships (every 'castle' from Carnarvon to Windsor!)  I'm afraid I did not get to enjoy the high life on the high seas as I was left at home and looked after by my grandparents.

With my parents and grandparents (Durban harbour)

I also couldn't resist including this next picture of my mom (on the right).  She looks so pretty and so elegant - I just love that dress!  (You can see Table Mountain in the background).

My mom with her best friend Sheila (& son Reginald)

Fast forward the decades and here I am today (literally - these were taken this afternoon).  No longer a little princess and nowhere near as glamorous as my mom - but at least I am happy!  


Kylie said...

Happiness counts the most.
I loved reading this post Sharon, looking at your gorgeous little dresses and your childhood photos and reading about all the memories they stirred up. My favourite photo is the one of you sitting on the bough of the frangipani tree and of course I loved the pic of your glamorous Mum.
You've got the most gorgeous smile x

earthenmagic said...


Barbara said...

Sharon you were a beautiful little girl and you are every bit as beautiful now that you are all grown up! I so enjoyed this post. The little dresses are all adorable, but my favourite has to be the one with all the rosebuds – your mum obviously loved you very much. When I glanced at the ‘photo with Table Mountain in the background I assumed the lady on the right was a film star! Such a glamorous lady, I LOVE that ‘photo; in fact, I love the entire post from the title to the very last word.

GardenOfDaisies said...

Oh sharon, these little dresses made by your mom are darling. So wonderful that you still have some of them. And such sweet pictures of you when you were a toddler. I love the happy smile on the lovely grown up Sharon, too!

Terence donnelly said...

A "Clotheshorse of memories" what a lovely name for a very interesting and well presented blog, I just loved it, the pictures were great. well done.

Donna Yates said...

Oh my, what lovely memories. These are so precious. Thank you for sharing the pics too. You always look so happy.

Darlene said...

What amazing memories these little frocks have evoked. It is so wonderful that you still have them. I think I still have a dress my mom knit for me in my special box (which hasn't been opened for some time) You still have that same wonderful princess smile Sharon!

Nora said...

Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos of the dresses you wore as a child as well as the beautiful photos of your Mom, you as a child and you as you are today. You brought back memories of my childhood as well in the respect that my Mom made many of our clothes while growing up. I can't remember her ever NOT being at the sewing machine or with knitting needles in her hands while watching television. From our clothes to Barbie clothes Mom would make them all. I only wish that I still had some of the clothes she made for us when I was younger. My Mom passed away in '97 and I still miss her so very much. While reading your blog I will admit I became teary eyed with memories of my own Mother and my own childhood Thank you.

DeadSpiderEye said...

Good job on keeping them in such good condition, I think represent a very interesting document of children's clothing.

Yurika said...

Dear Ms Sharon,

Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos of the dresses you wore as a child as well as the beautiful photos of your Mom.
This article reminds me of my sweet child memory, too.
I also glad to know that you are living with happily.

Sincerely yours,

DMS said...

What beautiful outfits and memories. I love the details and the little rosebuds are so cute. How fun that your mom liked to include them wherever she could. I think it is wonderful that you have these treasures to remind you of your own childhood and your mother's creative talents. I can't imagine fastening little buttons on a live child either. She must have been quite patient! I agree with you- your mom does look glamorous ! I am so glad you are happy. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Barbara said...

Sharon I just wanted to thank you for the link. You find the nicest blogs. x

Donna Heber said...

Hi Sharon,

What a wonderful box of vintage treasures! You are truly fortunate to have these fantastic memories and the photos to go with them. I've never seen a clothesline look more beautiful. You look so happy in your photos.


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