When I was at secondary school I shunned Home-Economics. I had absolutely no interest in sewing and cooking and went to great lengths to avoid those traditionally ‘female’ subjects. So instead of Home Economics I studied Technology and opted for (in those days) ‘Male’ subjects. I loved Cross country ( still do!) and Rugby and I went to university to study Engineering. Then went on to join the Army….you get the picture!
Fast forward a few years and I (not surprisingly) married a soldier and son had our first baby. I don’t know what happened when I had my daughter, (baby no 2) but I developed the need to Make. To be honest it wasn’t as soon as I had her. The creative urge took hold when she was about 18 months and by then I was expecting baby number 3. Maybe it was the nesting instinct??!
We were posted overseas to Germany, to a largely rural area where there was a lack of shops and entertainment (it felt like we had gone back in time 10 years). Unlike the 7 day a week consumer culture of the UK; Germany had a much slower pace of life. I spent more time at home and shops were closed on Sundays, apart from the bakery which opened at 5am and closed at 10am .. where’s the fun in that?!
Our Army quarter was the usual depressing magnolia and ghastly curtains, which wouldn’t have looked out of place on the Von Traps and I soon discovered there was a real lack of places to buy decor for the kids’ bedroom. Back in the UK a quick trip down my local high street would have done the trick, but there was nowhere that sold anything remotely to my taste. *
One great thing that Germany did have was Aldi and Lidl. I was instantly a fan! This was long before they landed over here. There was great novelty in being able to stick random toys and garden equipment in my trolley as I was passing the tinned foods aisle. One day, whilst perusing the cereal isle, I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a Singer sewing machine for 100 Euros! Bargain!! Straight in the trolley with the Bratwurst and rye bread.
Incase you were thinking I launched into full domestic goddess and turned those ghastly curtains into cute little outfits for my (by this point) 3 kids, I ‘m sorry to disappoint. Shortly, after the arrival of baby number 3, husband deployed to Iraq for 4 months, popped home to say hello, moved us to another location in Northern Germany, then deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months. I can’t say there was a lot of time for sewing during this massively sleep deprived time of my life, but I made a few things for the house (curtains obviously!!) and my daughter’s bedroom, that I still have today. And that little sewing machine started me on my creative journey…. reckon the Home Economics teacher might be just a little impressed!
*It wasn’t long before I discovered border hopping into the Netherlands gave me plenty of opportunity to shop for bright funky fabrics and kids clothes. I miss those days and can certainly recommend HEMA (pronounced Hey-ma) for great kids accessories- think Woolworths but much cooler!