When I buy clothes for myself and my kids now, I go to malls and look for ready to wear clothes. We pick out stuff, try them on in trial rooms, like or reject them as the case may be, and come out. As simple as that.

But in my childhood, I never wore ready to wear clothes at all.

All my clothes were made by my mother. This includes my school uniform too.

Every festival was an occasion to wear new clothes and we have a lot of festivals sprinkled generously spread all year round!

When we were very young, my mother would make matching dresses for me and my sister. Then, as we grew older, we protested that we did not want to look alike. So my mother would design two different dresses for both of us. More often than not, the cloth would be the same, the designs would be different. We were happy with that.

About 20 days ahead of the festival, my parents would go for shopping and buy the required dress material. They would always to big company showrooms of reputed mills like Bombay Dyeing, or Mafatlal. I don’t ever remember my mother going into some obscure shop for clothes!

When selecting the material, she would already have a design for each of us in her head, I think. I think so because, she would also buy some other smaller lengths of lace, or cloth that would match the main material for making beautiful designs.

I remember sitting beside her and watch her make her purchases. It used to give me a thrill to touch the material that would finally become a dress for me.

Then came the process of making the dress. She would take measurements and fold the material appropriately and mark it to make the cut. I would always sit with her from the start till right up to the end. Just before she would make the first cut to the material, she would say “Sairam” to invoke the Lord’s name and cut. She would always say, if the cutting was right, then everything would turnout correct.

She would sit at her sewing machine and select the correct thread for the material and start. She had the old leg operated Singer machine. She would always keep it in a top condition. I would sit next to her till she would shake out my dress and say “It is complete”. I would be so happy!

Of course we were not allowed to wear it till the day of the festival. On the D day, I would take out my new dress, apply kumkum to it in 3 different edges, place it before the Lord in the prayer room. And only then I would wear it.

Every thursday in my school would be a half day and a colour dress day, that is no uniform day. The first thursday after the festival would be the day for me and my sister to wear our new dress to the school and show off. The admiration of my friends would be the icing on the cake of happiness.

Those days were golden. Absolutely priceless.

I remember, once I had a brilliant idea of collecting small bits of cloth from which the dress was made and keep it in a place, so that when I would look at them years later, I would remember all the dresses that were made for me. That plan never worked because my mom found my scrap stash and threw it out saying it was just rubbish!

To be fair to her, I had kept really tiny pieces of cloth where the prints were not even clear and they were definitely frayed! 😀

I learnt to use the sewing machine from her and now I can make repairs and make curtains, pillow covers and such. But I never learnt to make a frock or a kurta. I regret that. I know it is not late for me to learn now. But the need is gone, the ready made clothes that we get nowadays are really good and affordable too. Saves time too.

The joy of watching a dress being made exclusively for me was a great highlight of my childhood.

My mother made so many varieties and styles for us. She indeed created dreams for us to wear.

Thanks Amma.