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January 17, 2014 / fionamakes

An inheritance

My grandmother moved to Singapore when she was in her late teens. What courage that must have taken, to start over in a new country. She had a few friends who travelled with her, I think. They stayed friends for the rest of her life. I remember visiting some of these old ladies once a year, during Chinese New Year. I can’t imagine what they must have been like as young girls – giggly, maybe. Then they were there for each other as they grew older, got married and had families.

My grandmother and I were never close, unfortunately. We just could never really communicate and I found it hard to relate to her. I’d bring my older two, J and E, to visit her when they was just babies. She always seemed to take delight in them. They can’t remember any of it of course, but to this day, it’s a source of pride that they got to meet her while their younger siblings never did.

She died a few years ago, and when she did, she left behind about 7 or 8 pieces of batik (among other things, of course! She was quite a hoarder!). My mum passed them on to me, but she stressed that they were super expensive pieces of fabric. Way to put pressure on me! I was terrified of cutting into them, fearing that I would ruin them with sewing skills that were not up to par. And so they sat in a box, waiting for me to get up some nerve.

A couple of things led to this skirt eventually. First off, mum reminded me that the batiks would get moth-eaten just sitting tucked away. And a few weeks ago, I caught sight of a batik skirt in a little shop. (Malaysian batik though, not in the Indonesian style that I had.) It was really pretty but it was just a wrap skirt and I figured I could sew one up quite easily.

So this is it. It’s a reversible wrap skirt, with a bit of beading on one side.



I’m happy I finally worked up the nerve to use the batiks. Better to wear the skirt and be reminded of my grandmother than have the fabrics rolled up in a box never to see the light of day.


Leave a Comment
  1. Ruth / Jan 18 2014 12:36 pm

    It’s beautiful.

    I also have a roll of Chinese silk, passed down to me from my father’s godmother who grew up in China (but who was not Chinese). I’m terrified to cut into it, so it remains rolled up in a closet. I’m also worried about moths, but have no idea how to use the fabric in a way that does it justice.

    • fionamakes / Jan 22 2014 3:08 pm

      Thanks, Ruth! I totally understand being torn between wanting to do justice to a precious piece of fabric and being afraid to ruin it! It took me ages to work up the nerve!

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