Tuesday 21 February 2012


Look what arrived in the mail yesterday...

... two copies of Topkids Magazine sent by my blogging friend, Christie, from Joyfoolery. The magazine on the left is from the late 90s and I'm guessing the right hand one is from the early 80s. I used Topkids during the 80s, to sew clothes for my children.

Unfortunately, I gave my old Topkids magazines away several years ago, along with ALL of my sewing patterns, knitting patterns, crochet patterns, knitting needles, crocheting hooks, fabric and wool. I had quite a stash which I gave away to Opportunity Shops.

Growing up, my mother made all of our clothes and her sister, a dressmaker, made us a special outfit every birthday and Christmas. Here's me as a child. I can still remember some of those outfits and how special I felt wearing them: the blue shorts with the striped top and the green tartan skirt and jacket.

We were well dressed, but in my teens, all I wanted was store bought clothes. I can remember shopping for my high school uniform, Mum with her tape measure in hand. She would take measurements of the uniform in the shop and then go home and whip one up. Somehow, I felt my uniform was different, although, when I look at photos, I can't for the life of me see how it was different, except that it didn't have a label in the back. It's hard to see the detail, but the blouse in the photo below on the left, has rows of pin tucks. It's beautifully sewn.

In my late teens and until I began work in my twenties, I took over the sewing of my clothes. Except for jeans, I sewed everything I owned. In the main I enjoyed it. Here's my wedding dress that I sewed. My aunty, the dressmaker, made my bridesmaids' dresses and offered to do mine, but I wanted to make my wedding dress myself. This is the best photo that shows any detail. It's hard to see, but the sheer fabric had blue and pink flowers on it.

When I began work, I started to buy store bought clothes. In fact, most of my clothes were store bought at that time. I could afford store bought and so I spent my money on them, as it was something I'd always wanted. Years later, when I became pregnant, I refused to pay the exorbitant amounts that the stores were asking for maternity clothes and out came my machine again. Mainly out of necessity, I continued to sew until our children were almost teenagers and I also sewed a lot for school fetes. When the kids were little, almost all their clothes were handmade.

As time went on, the kids in turn wanted store bought clothes and we were able to afford them. I became very busy with full time work, bringing up children and other interests took over. I no longer had to sew. Sewing became a thing of the past. My machine only came out for alterations and my sewing and knitting supplies were carefully packed away.

Over the years, I had accumulated a LOT of patterns, fabric and wool. In recent years, I decided that my stash would have to go, as I needed the room to store other things. My sewing days were over, so there was no point keeping things I would never use again. And so, I donated EVERYTHING from my stash, to an Opportunity shop.

Last year, in retirement, I started sewing again. This time round, there is no pressure to sew. I sew what I want, when I want and I am LOVING it. I do, however, regret giving all my patterns and fabric away, but that's life and others will have benefited from my old stash. Even though I am building up my stash of patterns again, I can sometimes be heard to say, I wish I hadn't given away......

I was so excited to receive the Topkids magazines from Christie!!! Flipping through the magazines, brought back happy memories of clothes I had made for my children in the 80s. Have a look at these fabulous outfits...

I am really looking forward to sewing up some of these outfits!!! Thanks so much, Christie!!! They will be well used.

I know Easter is still several weeks away, but if you want to make an Easter basket for your children, head on over to Christie's blog for her free tutorial on making an awesome Easter Bunny Ears Basket. It even has ears that are bendable. I love it!!!

... Pam

Don't forget to check out our ongoing themed link parties at  Threading YOUR Way with Threading My Way.


  1. When I was little, almost all of my clothes were handmade by my Mum, with jumpers and cardigans knitted by my Great Aunt.. My Mum even sewed as a few matching 'Mummy and Me' outfits.. cringe. She loved putting me and my brothers in matchy outfits and she made me, no joke, a smocked school dress. It was in the same blue and white print as all the other girls but it had puff sleeves, smocking and lace.. like a party dress, she did the sewing and my neighbour did the rest, so me and two girls on my street had them ( if I was at home to get the pics I'd show you).. by the time I was ten I wanted clothes from the stores like my friends had. Mum went back to work and only had time to sew my dance costumes and, as she herself says, store bought clothes became a lot cheaper. She no longer felt it saved any money to make us clothes herself.
    That's how I feel now. If I want a pretty new dress, I can almost always find something on clearance at Targer or K-Mart for $20 or under, even stores like Jeans West have dresses cheaper than I could make them.. and given I'm a size 6, the clothes my size are always on the clearance racks.. it kind of makes me sad to see it go this was. When I have kids, I really want to sew for them, but I know it'll only be for special pieces.. because I wan't make a t-shirt for $3.00 as nice as K-Mart can.
    Ah this is a REALLY long comment but I remember Mum having those magazines.. and I am so impressed you made your wedding dress, it looks beautiful!

    1. Thanks, Kate!!! Your Mum is right... Clothes used to be very expensive to buy, but they are much cheaper now. Dance costumes... LOL... I sewed them for 16 years!!! I'd love to see a photo of the smocked school uniform. It sounds like a beautiful dress, but I can just imagine how you felt at the time.

  2. I also had a down time in which I gave away 3 huge bags of material and a bunch of patterns. As you say, there is no point in wishing otherwise. What's done is done! Maybe some of your readers can learn from it though.

  3. wow, that's so fun! Its funny how things change over time. You always wanted to buy your clothes and now its trendy and cool to make clothes again. My mom was never a sewer and when I was a teen I wanted to learn to sew my own clothes. I'm still learning, but I think its fun to make clothes for my kids. I'm sure when my kids get older they will only want store-bought clothes! I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.

  4. That is so sweet of her to send those to you! My mom sewed most of the clothing for my sister and I growing up. I remember wanting store bought clothing more and more as I became a teenager, and by that time, I wanted to wear vintage and secondhand clothes, so I bought them myself. My parents thought anything coming from a charity shop was "dirty".

    I love that you made your own wedding dress. If Chad and I marry, I will be doing the that too. Same with children's clothes, if that is where life leads us.

  5. Thanks so much for the mention Pam! I am so glad you are going to get good use out of them (I knew you would!).
    As you said giving all your supplies away wasn't the worst thing, people like myself definitely benefited. I don't think I could have got into sewing so much if I'd had to buy all my supplies "new". So thank you!
    Look at all those gorgeous childhood pics and peter pan collars! So sweet! Making your own wedding dress is very special, it looks gorgeous.
    Thanks again, Pam and enjoy those mags!

  6. What a fun post to read Pam! Looking forward to seeing your upcoming creations! :) Have fun! (I know you will!)

  7. What lovely patterns....looking forward to seeing what you do.

  8. I know what you mean about getting rid of some things and then wishing you had them back. After my mom died a few years ago, I threw out a huge box of patterns that both my mom and grandmother had used. The box probably had close to 200 patterns in it, and a lot were from the 1950's and 1960's! At the time, I never thought I would sew. Boy was I wrong! I remember keeping a couple that had the most interesting pictures. One is for men's boxer underwear! And I gave away boxes and boxes of fabric and notions, too. Hope someone else found them all useful!

  9. I love reading this post...I actually love reading the experiences you share with us. :)
    Now I understand why you sew like a pro-. :)
    Your wedding dress is lovely! How cool to be able to sew your own wedding dress.
    My mom was always a working lady. And in Thailand..clothes are not that expensive to buy or hire someones to make for you.. I remember crying in a sewing class when I was little because my teacher would not let me go home if I did not finish the task..so I always thought I hated sewing. I started this hobby three years ago just to proof to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it..and now I can happily say that I love sewing and making things...it's a Me time -- time that I can relax but also feel like meditating.
    Thank you very much Pam for sharing such a wonderful story. :)

  10. I used Top Kids for my children in the nineties. I have two books left but have lost the others I had. I wish I could get more of themnow as my grandkids love nans homemade clothes

    1. Keep a look out in Op Shops (Thrift Stores) - you might get lucky.


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