Category Archives: Dressmaking

Further education

My favourite trouser pattern
My favourite trouser pattern

it’s that time of year – when the Further Education colleges publish their prospectuses for the coming year. Of course the fees have gone up again, while there are always threats to reduce government funding. The powers-that-be don’t seem to realise how much the NHS saves in anti-depressants and other medication by getting retired people out of the house.

I had an excellent dressmaking tutor – very strict and fussy. Everything had to be sewn carefully and finished well. I must have made at least half a dozen pairs of trousers from that pattern. The trouble with clothes you make yourself out of good quality fabric is that they won’t wear out and you’ve no excuse to visit GAP to buy new.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat

After I retired  I signed up for lots of classes, some at one Further Education college and some at another – painting, drawing, cooking, history of art, Spanish, creative writing, pottery, dressmaking – everything I hadn’t had time for when I was working. It wasn’t just that I hadn’t had the time, I hadn’t had the desire. My mind was always so full of work. Even when I was at the theatre, I would find myself thinking about a difficult diagnosis or a hiccup in our research.

I enjoyed the freedom of doing things that weren’t important, things that weren’t a matter of life and death.

‘It’s wonderful,’ I said to my art teacher. ‘Nothing I do now is critical. If my drawing of the model looks like a human being, great. If not, at least I produced something. If my new cookery dishes taste good or if I can’t eat them and have to throw them out, if I manage to remember whether Rubens came first or Constable, it just doesn’t matter. You can’t imagine the relief and feeling of freedom. My life is no longer constantly punctuated by drama, by death, by irrevocable mistakes – where every word I put in a report is crucial. It would have been devastating if what I said in my report was misinterpreted by the surgeons and the wrong treatment given.