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A Homemade Pumpkin and a Hand Sewn Prom Dress: A Mother's Love

by Melissa Au 3 months ago in women

Make clothes from scratch again!

When my sister was little, she wanted to be a pumpkin-witch for Halloween. Now obviously, such a costume is curious—what is a pumpkin witch? And thus, my mother had to create her a costume. She fashioned a jack-o-lantern suit with a witch hat from the same orange PVC fabric. And ta-da, a pumpkin-witch was born.

Of course, I recognise that people have limited time and energy to learn to sew and make clothes. But I think that we should bring back homemade clothes and costumes all over again on some scale so that we can marvel at the art of creating clothing all over.

Aside from the sentimental appeal, learning how to sew is incredibly useful. In addition to being able to fix up small rips, you're able to tailor clothes without having to take them to a tailor. This helps extend the life of your clothing as well as make them fit better. It makes you look more polished, like your clothes were made for you, because well, they were!

But perhaps more importantly, it gives you a unique style. Maybe you bought a bland tank top that everyone owns, and you spruce it up so it's your own. Or if you want to make your own costume, you don't need to spend find it online. You could just make it. Maybe your old jeans are looking boring, so you can turn it into a skirt. It doesn't matter though, because the ability to sew will let you do whatever you want.

In addition, making your own clothing gives you an understanding of what it actually means to make clothes. We frequently misunderstand the value of a t-shirt. The truth is, a simple cotton t-shirt both costs a lot more than $2 or $10 or $40 and a lot less. In terms of raw materials, it's true—the t-shirt costs practically nothing. But in terms of the skill, the practice, and the time it takes to make even a simple t-shirt, the amount is frequently priceless. In economic theory, we're told that we will spend money to buy something when the opportunity cost of doing it ourselves is too high. But how can we know what the opportunity cost of it is when we don't even know the value of a single t-shirt? Understanding the costs of things might just be the key to pushing wages up for clothes-makers.

But back to what I was talking about: sentimentality. A single costume made all those years ago, before I was truly a sentient being, has been etched in my brain forever. Can I say that about any other Halloween costume? I can't really say that there was. There was one blue fairy dress that I wore four years straight, but I don't think that it could really inspire thoughts of my childhood the way that that little pumpkin costume does. I never even got to wear it, but the image of my mum holding my sister, the pumpkin and the hat the only bright spots in the picture, is etched in my memory even though the photo is long lost.

Sewing takes talent but it also infuses clothing with love. When my sister went to prom, she got a tailored prom dress. But my mother applied the finishing touches—hundreds of hand sewn beads and sequins to give the skirt a mysterious twinkle. When I put that dress on years later, the sequins reflected the light just as my mother intended. I remember seeing the dress years ago, before the beads and sequins were added, and I remember it looking like just a run of the mill prom dress. And in the photo, it looks like a run of the mill prom dress. But wearing the dress felt like magic. It felt like wearing my mother's love.

Melissa Au
Melissa Au
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