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!