I had never sewn so much as that time when I was home alone!
I arrived in Australia a few months before Christmas 1984. I was left by myself when all my female student housemates departed the place for summer vacation.
The last day light said
fondly the gentle goodbye.
Then lonely night came.
Up until then, I had never lived by myself but was always with my family. Having no relatives, no close friends and living in a strange country, I felt most lonely at that time.
During the day, I either went window-shopping around the local Burwood shops or took a bus to the Box Hill shopping centre.
At night, I felt the coldness coming from the white fluorescent light in the house came down and covered my shoulders. Walking around the six-bedroom house then seemed like walking inside a big deserted castle.
There were afternoons that I sat on the knee-high brick fence in front of the house watching people passing by to feel less lonesome until it got dark.
The quiet chill house.
Sewing passion burnt the dull
blank dead endless hours.
After a lonely week, one day I went into the Spotlight shop in Box Hill. Looking at all the beautiful materials displayed, I had the idea of making clothes for the coming tertiary year. That would help me kill the time and most of all save me some money on clothing.
Unlike most housewives in Saigon before 1975, my Mum and her mother had their own careers as children wear designers, producers and wholesalers. Comparing to my father’s modest Lieutenant Colonel’s salary, my mother’s income was the major contribution to the family fund.
With basic sewing skills from high school, Mum still sent me to a special short sewing course after wards. Mum thought I needed the course to sew for myself and my family. She also hoped that if I could not find any jobs, I could earn a living as a dressmaker or follow her career path.
The family grew.
Blue dress and white shirt welcomed
the new arrivals.
I recalled basic steps I learnt a few years ago to draw clothes patterns. Those patterns were not the finest as the small details in the formula were forgotten. The first shirt made required adjustments after being assembled. Drawing upon that experience, I left generous seam allowances from then on.
The house got an old sewing machine that didn’t do the overlock stitches well. To prevent materials from unravelling, I melted the edges of synthetic fabric over the candle light and use French seam technique to enclose the non-synthetic edges.
born a desire to explore
the strange fashion world.
Proud with the Summer and Winter clothes I made, I felt the fashion world was my oyster. Later, I went on and made one or two signature evening dresses, skirts and tops. These days it’s a hobby for me to look at fashion shows and figure out how they made the clothes.