Today I was thinking about Easters spent in my childhood. Lovely family parties out in the garden playing badminton over the washing line! Lots of fun and laughter and as my mum was an amazing seamstress, in my case it always meant a new Easter outfit, that usually matched hers. I had strong memories associated to fabrics – colours and styles have always been something I loved.
Growing up with an inspiring dress maker who was able (and still is) to create a garment simply after seeing it in a photograph, or design her own, was great fun. The top of the stairs was home to a large chest like cupboard, that was always full to the brim with fabric. Cupboards contained ribbons, button and beads. Different colours of cotton and embroidery silks were all stored with loving care.
Combine this with growing up in the psychedelic sixties where colour abounded and it is understandable that it has all created strong memories. For some memories are triggered by smells or tastes, for me its fabrics and clothes.
When exploring rails at vintage fairs or online vintage shopping, I am often transported to a memory by a garment I happen upon. Although Mum created her own and my clothing, she took inspiration from patterns and styles that were trending. She might see a dress in a magazine, or shop window and she would search out the fabric and recreate this in her own style. She was fashion forward and she was able to create a child’s version of her own, and often a dolls version too. My doll had the best wardrobe! Simplicity.com and Vogue Patterns were a common household sight.
I happened across two different fabrics that recreated such moments. The first was a beautiful lace dress. In the image I saw online, this dress was a mod gogo mini, with a collar and short sleeves.
It isn’t the style I recall, but the fabric. In the same colour I recall a different mini dress worn by my mum, with a navy blue cape, white opaque tights and square fronted shoes.
For myself it was a dress with a flared skirt. I has a navy ribbon in my hair which was worn in “bunchies” and a matching ribbon around the wait of the dress.
I’m not sure if this is the dress that inspired Mum but it was great to see this fabric. I wouldn’t have been more than five at the time this was stitched into a memory.
The second dress fabric I came across, made me realise that my Mum wasn’t scared of colour! I should really have pieced that together before from the purple sofa of my childhood, with orange accessories and walls. This was offset by the purple wallpaper with huge paisley designs on the chimney breast, and a painting of a matador swirling his red cape. Not quite minimal eh?
The second fabric I discovered again in an image of a dress. This time I recall three dresses. Simple shift mini dresses, with ruffle front and a large button covered again in the same fabric. Mum, me and my doll all dressed the same.
Again the dress pictured here is a different style, but the fabric is without a doubt the same. Green, pink, yellow and orange. Flowers and patterns swirling together.
At the time of wearing, I would have been about three – four years old and these colours didn’t seem at all bold, just beautiful. I remember that Summer mum getting a really good sun tan and the dress made her suntan glow. She wore this dress with her hair backcombed into a ponytail, secured with a yellow chiffon scarf. I don’t remember any ribbons for myself but I did love looking like Mum.
I am not sure if memory fabrics happen to everyone, or whether as fabric, and the sound of mum’s sewing machine whirring that helped to create such strong memory links and ensured my love of vintage.
Vintage shopping isn’t just shopping, its a walk down a lovely memory lane. Wearing and Walking with style – clothes with vintage flare.