Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My Aunt's Smocking

Smocked by Aunt G
My mother's oldest sister was a very talented seamstress, who did custom dress-making and knitted.  But she was best known for her smocking.    

Before we left Sri Lanka in 1973, my mother asked her sister to do some smocking for us.  My aunt smocked enough pieces of fabric to make 2 blouses, but one blouse was to have smocking on both front and back, so there are 3 smocked top pieces.

More of Aunt G's Smocking

She smocked the fabric so that my mother could sew them into peasant-style blouses for us.  But, my mother didn't have access to a sewing machine for several years afterwards, and when she finally bought herself a sewing machine, peasant-style blouses were no longer in style, so the smocked pieces were put away.  When my daughter was born, I thought of making a baby dress for her with one of the pieces, but never did and now, I am glad that I didn't!

Because, the other day, one of my cousins, cousin S, who is my aunt's youngest daughter and who now lives in Australia, visited a museum and saw some patchwork quilts and other hand sewn items, including smocking.  She sent me a picture of one of the quilts, as she knows that I make patchwork quilts and thought I'd be interested; she also mentioned that the smocking reminded her of her late mother's smocking.  That reminded me that I still have several pieces of my aunt's smocking!  And I told her that I will send them to her.  

She didn't want me to mail them, in case something happened en route, saying it was too precious to get lost or damaged.  She asked me to wait until her sister M visited the US and give it to her sister.  Well, her sister is visiting now, and, in fact, I met her on Sunday.  And guess what?  I forgot to take the smocked pieces with me!  But, I was able to visit her, again, today, and took the smocked pieces to her.  

And the reason I am glad I didn't make a baby dress for my daughter with one of the pieces?  Well, because one blouse was supposed to have smocking on both front and back, there are three top pieces and, since my aunt had three daughters, there are enough smocked top pieces for each of them to have one!  In addition, there are four sleeves with a band of smocking on each, for them to do with as they please.

All the smocked pieces
I am so happy that I can give these pieces back to my cousins.  It will mean a lot more to them, to have something their mother had sewn, than it means for me to have something made by my aunt.  Perhaps this is why I kept them all this time - just so I could give it back to them.  I think it will be a true heirloom for them.

In other news, I went to the office, today, and had a busy, productive day.  On my way home from work, I put gas to the car.  Gas was $3.49/gal. and I put $30 worth of gas.  After I came home, I made a card for my cousin M's daughter who is getting married, so I could give it, along with a wedding present, to my cousin to give to her daughter.  I meant to give the smocking and the gift and come back home, again, but my cousins invited me out to dinner and I got to enjoy both a lovely dinner and the company of my cousins.  They were going shopping, afterwards, and invited me to join them, but I declined and came home and spent the rest of the evening chatting with my daughter.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Being able to give my cousins some of their mother's handiwork
- Dinner out with two of my cousins
- A productive day at work
- Daughter had fun at her skating lesson
- A friend who shares her insights with me

How was your Tuesday?  Do you do smocking?  Do you have something made by a relative that you've kept a long time and consider a family heirloom?



20 comments:

  1. I can do smocking but haven’t done any for years. I don’t have anything made by a relative but do gave a couple of metal work pieces made by my late partner. One of my great aunties has a beautiful memorial to her mother that was embroidered by her father, but that will be passed down a differ branch of the family.

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    1. I learned how to smock, when I was in school, but never did much of it. I remember making all the dots and making all the gathers! I am sure your late partner's metal work pieces are much treasured. My poor daughter will receive things my maternal grandmother made, my mother made, and I have made! I have no idea what she'll do with them all!

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  2. That's great that you were able to give the smocking to your cousins. It probably means more to them now than it would have years ago.

    I have never smocked, but my mother-in-law did. It is very hard, tedious work, but with beautiful results.

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    1. I am happy I was able to do so, Live and Learn. I know they will appreciate having something made by their mother.

      I learned how to smock, but haven't done much of it.

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  3. Gas always seems to go up in the summer! Yikes. I suppose I should think about cutting down on smaller trips and combine errands.

    How lovely of you to give the smocking to family members you knew would appreciate it more. I must admit I'd be tempted to hang onto it as it is such beautiful work. But as you said it would mean more to them. Enjoy your Wednesday

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    1. Yes, we switch to a cleaner burning grade of gas during the summer, to cut down on the smog, and that always costs more, plus, we have a new gas tax that was added to enable road maintenance which have contributed to the increase in gas prices.

      The smocking is beautiful, isn't it? But I haven't done anything with it and probably never will. It is better for my cousins to have it as a reminder of their mother.

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  4. Those pieces are beautiful. My mom also did smocking on our dresses, but I never learned to smock.
    Gas is more expensive where you live. When I filled up last week, it was $2.65/gallon here.

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    1. I remember learning how to smock when I was at school, but never did much. I do other types of embroidery, though.

      Our gas prices are quite high, due to a different grade during the summer to cut down on the smog and various added taxes for road maintenance, and so forth. These days, I budget $50/week for gas, although I seem to be able to get by on about $30/week. I suppose, once I retire, I will be able to reduce my gas budget by at least half, if not more.

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  5. What a lovely post bless. I bet your Aunt's Daughter couldn't believe you had something so personal to her Mother and her memory of her. Definitely one of those instances where not doing something turned out for the best in the long run. xx

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    1. Thank you, Suzanne. Yes, my cousin was very excited when I told her. As I told her, the pieces have never even been washed!

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  6. What a lovely gift to give your cousins. It is a piece of their mother they can cherish!

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    1. Thank you, Anne. I thought of your recent post about it being a blessing to be able to bless others; I definitely feel I was blessed to be able to do this for my cousins.

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  7. (I don't think my comment went through so I am doing it again). Very pretty smocking. I used to buy my first daughter Polly Flinders smocked dresses in the 1980's. I once tried to follow a tutorial on smocking and I was able to do it but didn't have the skill to do it on a garment. Andrea

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    1. Andrea, sorry your earlier comment didn't go through. I've been having that same problem on a few of the blogs I comment on, too. Thank you for keep trying and I'm glad your comment went through this time.

      I learned to smock in school, but I didn't do much beyond that! I might try it again, one of these days. I might have to start a "things I want to do when I retire" list! LOL.

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  8. Wow, how beautiful. I'm sure that smocking is a dying art, I've never tried it and don't know anyone who does it. I have my grandmothers patchwork quilt. I don't know whether she ot someone in the family made it but it's certainly very old.

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    1. I, too, think that smocking is a dying art, Eloise. I learned how to do it, but never did much of it. That's lovely that you have your grandmother's quilt. I have a crocheted bedcover my grandmother made, as well as all the ones my mother made, plus all the quilts I've made! My poor daughter will have to deal with it all!

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  9. That is beautiful smocking and how lovely that you could pass it on to your aunt's daughters. I did some smocking decades ago on my anticipated baby's nightdresses, before the modern baby clothes became popular. It is an enjoyable form of needlework.

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    1. I am happy I am able to give it to my cousins, Bushlady. It is a whole different type of "decluttering", isn't it?

      How lovely that you smocked a little garment for your baby! Baby clothes were quite a bit deal, weren't they?

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  10. What beautiful post Bless, love the smocking. My mother made a smocked yoke for one of my dresses when I was a child I don't have the dress but do have a photo of me wearing it.

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. I am glad you have the photo of you wearing the dress. I am beginning to realize that sometimes, a photo is sufficient. :)

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