Tuesday, 19 October 2010

My Granny's Dresses

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! 


  1. these are amazing, i'm very envious!

  2. oh yes, they must definitely get worn, not just packed away. so beautiful. the red and white one and little navy blue one with the peter pan collar are my faves. x

  3. Dear Year, what can I say. Such a lovely blog, such beautiful things. There is something so tangibly magical about clothes made for us by relatives, especially when they have had so so so much care taken over them as these have.
    I wish you good luck, may your sewing machine pedal never stick, your darning needle never rust and your pin cushion never be mistaken for a real cushion by mistake. PC xxx
    ps - what to make of the Soulemama pigs scenario? The blogosphere holds its breath.

  4. I love the idea that three generations of girls in one family have worn or will wear these dresses. They are not just beautifully crafted and a creative work of art, they are family history.

  5. That dark blue dress reminds me of a picture of my father with his granddaughter...

  6. Beautiful dresses. Takes me back to when I used to wear homemade dresses like this and then passed them on to my dolls. I think they've long since gone. So sad.

    My favourites would have to be the blue and red and red and white ones.

    Also, lovely blog. Inspiration overload!


a year above the shop

a year above the shop