An Early Inspiration

The best seamstress and designer I ever knew was my childhood family friend, Kate Thompson, who every time I saw her would be wearing another of her own creations. Chance took her away from a career in fashion, but that gift of understanding fabric, how to cut, how to sew is as real as ever. I have no idea how the muse works, how stories arrive, but as I write this I wonder whether Rosa, the Dressmaker of the title went to Paris because, as I’ve always thought, my mother did, or was it because Kate married and settled in France. Or both.

My skills, on the other hand, are limited. The only item of clothing I have ever made successfully was a skirt using a Vogue Easy Sew pattern over the long summer in sixth form. The one-day pattern took me a week to complete. It was torture. When I bought my Bernina machine it came with a free one-day course and I still refer to the scrapbook I made that day, which proves to me that I can hem, embroider and make perfect button holes even if I have lost faith in my skills. When Rosa picks up her scissors and cuts, when she threads her needle and stitches garments into being, I am not channelling myself.

When Emma – Kate’s sister – married for a second time, she floated down the grassy aisle with her daughter Ellie and all the bridesmaids in dresses that Kate had designed, cut and sewn. Always an inspiration.