My mother once told me a story of how during Christmas time, her mother would buy one large roll of fabric and from that roll she would make a Christmas outfit for each one of her children, nieces and nephews. The younger girls would get flared out skirts and the older girls would have theirs made more fitted around the waist. The boys would get bow ties and buttoned shirts to match. She would add little accents of a pocket here, or a ribbon there, according to who she knew she was making it for.
At the end of the Sunday morning Mass before Christmas you could see all the children spill out of the church doors in one long stream of consistent colour and pattern. The whole village would light up like a Christmas tree itself as you could look across its landscape and you could spot each one of the children like a blinking light in the distance.
My grandmother was a master seamstress and my mother naturally followed suit. I remember her sitting at the edge of our dinning room table hunched over a sewing machine often with a garment that she bought at a shop and took apart, only to put back together in a way that would suit her better. My mother was constantly hemming the bottom of her pants or taking in the sides of her dresses.
Whatever clothing she bought in the shop she sought to put it through a process to seek better harmony with her body. She made a remark once that these clothes weren’t made for her and so she needed to do what needed to be done to reconcile with this fact. In hindsight I wondered if she missed the clothing her mother used to make for her.
In my exploration of the Yeoville Market I was very interested in looking at the processes of making and tailoring garments. I see this practice as relating to my own family history as well as a wider history of the significance of tailoring and garment making in the context of African cultures.