Wow! It’s been nearly five months since I last posted. But, before you think I’ve just been lazy (which, to be honest is my usual excuse for long blogging breaks) I’ve been a busy little bee. I got back a couple of weeks ago from a wonderful three month long European holiday! We were lucky enough to spend about 6 weeks in France, and the rest of the time was spent wandering around different countries as you can only really do in Europe. Coming from Australia where it takes about four hours to fly to our closest neighbouring country (New Zealand) and at least double that for flying anywhere else, it was such a luxury to be only a couple of hours from any selection of other countries. But enough of that, I have some pictures and a few stories from our trip, related to sewing – of course! – to share.
Because I’m a bit of a history nerd we visited lots of historical sites, and lots of those related to the two world wars. While many of the sites were moving to the extreme, one in particular really touched me; the village of Oradour-sur-Glane, in France. If you don’t know the story, check it out here. But in brief, a company of German SS soldiers destroyed the town in 1944 and murdered nearly 650 of its inhabitants, which was basically everyone. The ruined village was ordered to be maintained in its destroyed state as a permanent memorial and you can still visit it today. Which we did.
All that’s left of the village are ruined buildings and the metal remains of the townspeople’s belongings: bed frames, tools, bicycles and sewing machines. Dozens and dozens of sewing machines – most of them Singer machines.
Indestructible Singer sewing machine
They’re dirty and rusted, but they’re all still unmistakably sewing machines and they look like they just need a bit of love and they’d start right up and start sewing again! And nearly every dwelling had at least one which serves as a reminder of just how ubiquitous they were and how important sewing and the creation of one’s own garments and household items was.
I counted well over 50 sewing machines, in various states of disrepair, while walking through the town and I’m quite sure there were many, many more. While the loss of 650 lives was a drop in the ocean in relation to the massive numbers lost throughout the war, the story of the loss of this village was incredibly difficult to get my head around. I feel I connected with the long-gone residents through our shared reliance on sewing.
A fabric shop
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, in my visits to the past. While at a museum elsewhere in France I was perusing the items held celebrating the end of World War 2 and came across this:
The caption accompanying this dress states: “Teenage girl’s dress, make for the Liberation out of scarves printed with reproductions of portraits of the Allied heads of state.” I love that someone made a dress to celebrate the liberation of France – makes the dresses I make to celebrate my birthday or other such occasions so trivial – and that it lives on for us all to see. It’s a pretty awesome dress style too!
And finally for today, I’ll finish up with a dress I made for myself to wear while travelling around.
Okay, so you can’t really see it too well in this pic, but it’s the best I have of me actually wearing it overseas. The reason this dress is so special to me and our trip is not because it’s made of brightly coloured seersucker, or even that it’s made from a 1959 pattern. It’s that I wore this amazing dress to the craziest music festival I’ve ever been to. It was in Spain. It was in a dessert. It was insane. And I can guarantee I was the only person there wearing a 1950s dress. I was actually one of the only people I saw there even wearing a dress. Retro represent! Anyway, I don’t have any photos of me at the festival at all, but I do have this photo to show you just how insane the festival was.
Creepy trolls and devil woman – all par for the course at Monegros Desert Festival
Actually, this photo doesn’t do the craziness any justice. But you kind of get the idea, no?