Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sewing a Union Jack


The Union Jack has been making its mark on interiors for quite awhile now and I'm a real fan of the bright, bold trend. Always being one for a bargain, I could never bring myself to spend the better part of a hundred dollars on a cushion in this design - no matter how much this pop of colour would suit our study (see it here and here). I was very tempted by the one over at the wonderfully colourful Table Tonic. That is, until I stumbled on a stack of tea towels at bargain store Dimmeys in West Footscray last year. Union Jack tea towels, no less. As I dropped to my knees in the aisle to rummage through the stack of blue, red and white, I had to inwardly shout "be still my beating heart"! At $1.50 a pop, I grabbed at least four - two for a cushion, one for my kitchen and one for my Nanna.

In 1959, my grandparents boarded the Fairsea in England with three children in tow and began the six-week journey to Australia. No matter how many times they talk about it, I'm still amazed that they moved across the other side of the world and started a new life at a time when restrictive overseas travel made visits back to see family very few and far between. Here they are, ready to board the ship:

The little boy up the back is my dad (with his hand on my grandfather's shoulder). 

Their voices and mannerisms may still show signs of their motherland, but for the most part, Nanna and Grandad have embraced Australia as their home. Never have I heard my grandparents regret their decision nor do I know them to have union jacks or pictures of the royal family adorning their homes. That's not stopping me though! Nanna thought her tea towel was a hoot.

When I purchased these joyful cloths, I didn't have a sewing machine and my latest sewing experience dated back to Year Nine textiles. Luckily, I must come across as some sort of wannabe domestic goddess looking to improve my skills in all manner of homemaking as I received an email all the way from Abu Dhabi offering me a sewing machine. It was December by that stage so I told anyone who listened that Santa was bringing me a sewing machine. In reality, it was a loan from Aunty Celine, always keen to put a smile on a face. It was stored in her childhood home in country Victoria, so she wouldn't be needing it for awhile.

And so it came to be that I started beginner sewing lessons at the Yarraville Community Centre three weeks ago with my "new" machine. Instead of my class homework that week (some things never change), I sewed two of the tea towels together and attached press studs in place of a zip. They are hardly visible from the front and side...

Unless you look really close...

Our class will be learning to insert zippers next week so until then, it's press studs for me. All you need is a hammer and a surface safe to let loose on (like a scrap of thick ply wood). Got brownie points from the teacher for attempting something on my own. No detention for the missed homework either :)

This sewing business is so fun and satisfying so far. My heart still sings when I see my $3 Union Jack cushion looking so bright and cheery on my yellow chair. Long live England my enthusiasm and God bless the Queen Aunty Cele and her sewing machine!


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