|Because it was warm, most of the time mum just let us wear little cotton shorts (made by her) and no top. My sister here is seen wearing home made pajamas and the long pants which would grow shorter and shorter as she grew.|
Mum neither had the opportunity to further her education after Junior Three nor the chance to learn a professional skill. Could she have learnt how to make dresses in Singapore? Age caught up with her. When her mother came out of China by the first boat after the Second World War she was old enough to be married off. There were three younger ones and it was not easy for the family.
We all know that in spite of her lack of training both at school and in a professional institute, she is able to make most of the basic home wear. This Lunar New Year she is 88. I can recall the beautiful basic wear that she made to ensure that her seven children were clothed properly. And thanks to her frugal ways, we had at least one pair of good pajamas every Chinese New Year. It is the pajamas she made for us that make Lunar New Year such a warm and comforting event. They were cotton ones too!!
|round collared pajamas my mother made for my sister, on the left. My sister grew up to become our family tailor/seamstress even though she is a trained teacher. Her workmanship is very perfect. Must have inherited the genes from my maternal grandfather who was a China born tailor.|
Mum never used paper patterns from Butterick to make the pajamas. She just placed the old pajamas on the floor and started cutting the cloth. As we were growing bigger, she just had to add an inch or two to the seams, the length etc. In no time, she would make one using her beautiful SINGER sewing machine. She did not even used pins. She just held two pieces of cut materials and sewed. A month before the Chinese New Year, she would buy the cotton materials from Sibu (we lived in the Hua Hong Ice Mill quarters on Pulau Kerto).
Pajamas made by her lasted and lasted and lasted. And of course they become hand me downs and even get passed around to the various cousins in Nang Chong.
Each Chinese New I would ponder on Chinese Pajamas. Sometimes I would buy for my children, sometimes not. It is not a must have. But I think it is a good tradition to keep especially if you are quite good with the sewing machine.
But if you happen to see some good ones, you can always save some money and buy a pair or two.
My first thoughts today, when I opened my eyes...where have all those Chinese New Year pajamas wearing days gone? I would like to wear pajamas made by my mother. Round necks (no collar) with snap buttons, and simple cotton. I would not twitch because they are home made, I would not keep them at the bottom of the drawers, I would not secretly save my angpow to buy a nice store bought pajamas from Ngui Kee down the road in Sibu. I would want to wear them proudly and shout,"See my new year pajamas made by my pretty mother!!"
I would like to feel again, the old pajamas growing smaller, and the pants growing shorter over the year...I would like to experience that euphoric feeling that I am growing taller and more robust!!
I am glad that I have a Foochow Housewife for a mother - frugal, wise, good decision maker, simple, without make up, not be-panty hosed, not perfumed, not bejewelled,etc.
Thank you for the home made cotton pajamas.
Happy First Day of the Chinese New Year.