My mum – for International Women’s Day 8 March 2022

My mum

Would pass thread through the eye of a tiny needle and perform what she called invisible stitches.

It was what all the ladies wanted.

The middle-aged women would call-in at our house

Requesting alterations

to aid their


their girth expansion

from the time in-between diets.

Mum would sit at her Singer sewing machine,

The whirr of the electric motor

and the mechanised


up and down,

As the stitches appeared

and fabric was transformed.

By the time I was old enough, in the 80’s,


had removed the necessity to make your own clothes


I remember

My mum matching patterns to material,

Sketching-out with

Tailor’s chalk.

Triangular, smooth, and white,

that was no good for drawing.

I still have beside me a set of pinking-shears,

So called scissors,

named after the flower,

with zigzag blades

designed to stop fraying,

also, no good for paper.


Big heavy shears

For cutting fabric,

Formal and sharp


Heaven forbid I’d be caught playing with them

For fear of blunting the edge.

I also have the wooden yardstick

With bronze tips at the ends

and inch-long segments,

No use for measuring much

In my metric world.

Mum would record the inside leg

and waist


of the men and women,

People she mostly knew.

family friends

and acquaintances.

A long, white tape, she would sometimes hang around her neck,

When not in use

I would roll it up,

The plastic creaking

as I tightened.



are the proper terms

Although she always thought of herself

as a sewer.

a doer of alterations.

It was focused,

lonely work.

Hours spent at the machine,

leaning over the table.

As she grew older

and her eyesight diminished

It became harder

for her to see the needle,

The placement of the pins became more difficult.

When I was little, I played with her pincushion.

A gift from my brother.

It was a red-silken dome with green threads running from the centre.

Oriental figures, with tight black hair

At the end of the rows.


Monitoring the sharp things.

I would take pleasure in

Plunging the pins in and pulling them out,

feeling the stuffing give-way.

I still have, somewhere,

In a drawer,

The red-retriever duvet and pillowcase cover,

She made for me when I was six.

There is nothing else left.

Published by rodkersh1948

Trying to understand the world, one emotion at a time.

8 thoughts on “My mum – for International Women’s Day 8 March 2022

  1. That’s beautiful. I identify with your memories so much. I sew too though less as I get older, mostly taking up new trousers as even petite ones seem to be longer these days. But sewing and knitting are coming back into fashion with young ones learning new skills.And my granddaughters now enjoy the pincushion, thimbles and coloured thread.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Lesley. My parents actively discouraged me from picking-up the needle and thread… The mysteries of invisible stitches haven’t been handed-down to me! I loved the thimbles too.


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