My love of beautiful clothes
…started with sewing lessons at the age of thirteen with Mrs Bennett.
Mrs Bennett, was an older Yugoslav women who had impeccably manicured nails and traditionally tailored clothes.
Initially my sewing started off with one lesson per week later increasing to two and took place at The Block Arcade Dressmaking & Craft School – 286 Collins St Melbourne.
The school was located on the 2nd Floor in a square room with white walls, high ceilings and a large bay window over looking Collins Street.
Even now when I am in this part of Collins Street, I look up and imagine my young self looking out that window. In the room there was a very large central cutting table which we (usually 4 or 5 women) all sat around.
Sewing machines located on independent sewing tables were set up in rows next to the walls and there was a red fabric screen in the corner which was used for modesty when doing a fitting.
The routine: 4pm arrive and begin your work, 5pm tea and biscuits, 6pm pack up.
I was always the youngest person there, most of the women attending were in their 40’s and had come straight from work.
This two hour window of time was precious for me, it transported me into a world of listening to grown women speaking about their lives, their work and their relationships all while learning about: the straight grain of a cloth, how to alter a pattern, tacking a garment so that it actually fits, how to herringbone stitch a hem as well as how to sew a straight line.
It was a quiet time of reflection and expansion all at once.
Each week I was given hand sewing homework which I would often do while travelling home on the #72 tram. The world of Mrs Bennett was full of fabric, texture, tea and biscuits, stories and beautifully tailored clothes.
In my final year at school I was not sure what I wanted to study next – I gave up art and selected politics – 6 weeks later I gave up politics and went back to art! I increased my sewing lessons with Mrs Bennett to twice a week and created a fashion folio – it was my fashion folio that got me into RMIT Fashion Design.
I am lucky to have discovered what I love at a young age and have been fortunate to be able to spend my entire working life dwelling in what makes clothes really work.
Love your clothes and yourself Kx