I was saddened to learn of the death of Margaret Whitlam on Saturday. I grew up in Gough Whitlam's electorate of Cabramatta and I was 9 years old in 1972 when Australians decided It's Time and elected him Prime Minister. My parents were die-hard Labor voters so we went to as many local events where the Whitlams were present.
I remember one Sunday my parents planned to go to the opening of a local community centre at which the Whitlams would be presiding. My mother had chosen a hideous polyester lemon yellow dress for me to wear and I hated it with a passion. We fought long and hard all during my mother's Saturday preparations of washing and pressing outfits for the whole family. I wanted to wear a different dress. One of my cousins had handed down to me a pretty floral dress with a gathered skirt, a ruffle down the front and a wide self-fabric sash that tied in a big bow. I had a pair of glossy black patent leather 'party shoes' and a pair of lace trimmed socks that looked perfect with it and I knew if I didn't wear it I would die.
But it was too big.
In my room that Saturday afternoon, with the yellow dress mocking me from the back of my door, my creative juices started to flow and my first refashion began. I can't recall the details, but I remember cutting the sash in two and stitching it to the side seams so that it could pull the front flat and gather the fullness all at the back.
Long story short; my mother gave in and let me wear the floral dress. At the community centre opening, I very shyly went up to the Prime Minister's very tall wife and said, "Hello, Mrs Whitlam." She turned to me and smiled and said, "Hello, that's a pretty dress."
40 years later as I remember that comment, I celebrate the life of a woman who did so much for womens' rights in Australia who was so much more than just a Prime Minister's wife.
I actually did some sewing.
After the debacle that was last weekend, I am making some progress on jeans, but I was waylaid by the need to make something to wear to a party. What should have been a quick knit dress took way too long. This is BWOF 05-2011-106 http://www.burdafashion.com/content/viewer.jsp?imagePath=/images/repos/1/000/001/852/000001852769
The fabric has been in my stash for a few years, bought from Gorgeous Fabrics and is one of about 4 snake prints I have stored away waiting for the right pattern. I rather like this dress and it looks better on me than Vera. The wide neckline means I need to wear a strapless bra, but I have a good and comfortable one.
Jeans sewing continues ...