Stitching in the blood … with Handmade Monday


Way back in 1921 Margaret Morrison and her two sisters and older brother were orphaned, losing their coal miner father to an obstructed bowel.  Their mother had died the previous year and they were left alone.  John, the oldest at 17, reported the death to the Registrar and the family left their tied accommodation to go to their nearest family in Edinburgh.  They couldn’t all be accommodated with their grandparents and in order to stay together they set up home on their own.  Margaret was 13 and Christie and Bessie were between Margaret and John in age.

John joined the merchant navy and Margaret became apprenticed to a dressmaker.  Between them, Margaret and John paid for the home and set about paying for Christie and Bessie to become nurses.  They both became nurses, Bessie became a very senior Matron in a number of large hospitals around the country.  There was some kind of rift during or just after world war two and Christie became estranged from the rest of the family – if you know anything of  Christie Morrison born circa 1905 in Bannockburn, Linlithgowshire, Scotland I would be delighted to hear it.

Margaret Morrison was my grandmother.  Her full name is a bit of a mouthful, Margaret MacLennan Morrison MacLachlan, and she has been gone for long time, having died in 1981.  Whenever I am stitching I think of her.  She worked for most of her life and I wish that I had her treddle singer.  I have one small piece from her home.  A pottery cat string holder which hung on the wall of her kitchen where we sat together when I was very small watching with fascination as she removed her rollers.

I hope she would think I have done a good job on the bag above.  It is made from alternately pieced 2 1/2 inch strips of fabric which are then pressed and pleated to conceal the contrast fabric. The pleats are partially stitched so that the contrast fabric can be glimpsed.  It has had cotton wadding added to give it some body and the top has been bound in black bias binding and hand stitched.  there are two imitation leather handles attached with vintage green silk twist.  It is lined with matching cream fabric.  I have been thinking about it for a couple of weeks and I’m very pleased with the way it’s turned out.  It really is lovely to be able to make things  and to share the creativity of others – please visit Wendy and the crowd for another Handmade Monday extravaganza – I’m a bit early but won’t have time to post tomorrow.

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33 comments

  1. Wendy

    What a fascinating story – you drew me in right from the beginning. Your bag is lovely and your grandmother would be proud. Maybe she’s looking down now 🙂

  2. Jam Dalory

    What an interesting family history. The bag looks great. If Chrissie became a nurse have you thought of getting in touch with the NHS and seeing if they have any records of her? I don’t know when the NHS was set up but it might be worth a try. x

  3. devoncountrydiary

    Love the bag. My grandmother on my fathers side was an umbrella/ parasole maker and she was selected to make a parasole for the Queen, when she was a little girl, I think for her birthday. She also made one for Margaret too. Thats where I get my crafting skills from but she could never make me into a knitter, being ambidextrous I get in a rare old tangle.

    • fionamaclachlanmorris

      That’s absolutely fascinating. I think it must be my nosey gene but I just love to know everything about everything!! I can’t imagine being ambidextrous?! I was dyspraxic before there was such a thing and everything has taken a long time to find my own way to do and eventually master!

  4. jenyjenny

    I enjoyed your post and love the look of the pleated bag. Oh yes, she would be proud of you and your abilities! Keep looking for info, sometimes it helps to post a comment on a genealogy web site and you may find others looking for the same, or related person. ancestry.com UK has some great info but there is a fee to join. Here in the states, if you go to a family history library at a local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can use some of the fee-pay genealogy web sites sites for free. Plus they have staff member volunteers who will help you with your research–good luck!

  5. Jan

    I remember my Nans treadle machine from when I was a young child, it’s great to have these lovely memories.
    A lovely post and a lovely bag, good luck in your search.

    Jan x

  6. RosMadeMe

    That is wonderful… it is amazing to see how people just got on with life back then… my best friend’s Nana travelled from Italy to London aged 12, with no English to come and look after her older sister and had created a property empire by the time she was 30!

    Now, let me into the secret, wherever do you find such brilliant bag handles?

  7. Alison Willcocks

    A very interesting story about your Grandmother and I’m sure she would be very proud of your bag. My Grandmother died when I was about 12. She used to do a lot of crocheting and tatting, always had something on the go and now I have started, but on slightly larger things than she would have worked on! I often wonder what she would think.

  8. Susie

    I so love this post. My Mother was an avid genealogy researcher and could probably have been a pro but it was simply an all consuming hobby for her. I wish I had her gift for recalling all of the details, she used to tell he things but I can’t always put them together anymore without her help. If I had a time machine I know I would use it to go back and visit those ancestors and get it all straight!
    Good luck finding Christie Morrison. I know we have run into some brick walls along the way, but in the day now of the internet it’s a bit easier. I do love Ancestry.com altho not all of the info is correct. 🙂

    • fionamaclachlanmorris

      Thank-you! I’m glad you enjoyed it – there are lots of transcription errors on Ancestry but it’s only from family members checking and reporting errors that these things are spotted. Thanks very much for visiting again.

  9. Pickle-Lily

    What an amazing family for two teenagers to take on all that responsability. Good luck with your searching. Lovely bag.
    Jo x

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