The most wonderful unexpected package arrived above the shop a few days ago. Inside were eight small girls dresses handmade by my late grandmother, some for me and some for my mother and aunt when they were children. My aunt Sarah found them in her attic in Sheffield whilst looking for something else.
I was, needless to say, over the moon. What a beautiful surprise.
There is so much I could say about the extraordinary life and times of my beloved granny, Elena Zadik. For now I will just let her skill speak for itself:
I wore this dress and matching bloomers - made from Liberty tana lawn - to my aunt's wedding aged eighteen months.
This one also has matching bloomers. What I love about it is that it is pretty without being sugary. All these girls dresses and no pink, my current read Natasha Walter would approve.
The dress below, one of the older ones, is made from parachute silk. After the second world war it was plentiful.
Look at the detail on the back. Sigh.
This one below is my favourite. The buttons with looped buttonholes, the print, the way the navy, turquoise and chocolate brown work together, it is exquisite and so very much of its time (the late seventies). You put a little girl in prints like this and what chance has she got? Years later she will collect such fabrics and have no more room for her vintage crockery collection.
My daughter Eva has been wearing it as a blouse with jeans. Although it makes me nervous I think they should be worn and not just packed away.
The simplicity of the white really makes the tomato red stitching pop out, like redwork. Gorgeous.
She was a good doctor. Thinking about the meticulous hand that smocked these dresses, it is easy to believe.
Of course, strictly speaking these are not things I made - I doubt I will ever make clothes as skilled as these - but they will inspire me beyond measure.
PS For all the people who have kindly asked how they can subscribe to this blog, you should now be able to click on 'subscribe' at the top right. Thanks!