Sarah D.

My favourite and first memories of outfits I wore as a child.

The initial image that popped into my head was of me in a dress my Mum made for me when I was about 3. Made out of a 70s cotton print, small floral design in pale yellows, oranges and white, white curvy trim about an inch from from the bottom of the dress and the neck. It was sleeveless and started about knee length but grandly turned into a mini dress as I got older. I can visualise a photo of me in it with my brother sitting on a tartan rug in our friends garden on a very warm Summers day. My hair was straight, very white and bob length with a very straight blunt fringe. Think my Mum cut it. Brother was about a year old. They were special pictures of us, portrait ones taken by my parents friend Ed. He was always ahead of the game when it came to technology, and a very large expensive camera with a tripod. The picture in my head is of me wearing the dress with knee length holey patterned socks and open toe sandals. I loved those socks, comfy, warm and felt silky, though were synthetic. Wore them with everything even to bed with my nighty and on top of tights in the Winter! 

My Mum made a lot of my clothes when I was a young. She enjoyed sewing and liked to experiment. I had a lovely blue Paddington Bear duffel coat with a red lining. It must have taken her forever and been very difficult to sew as the fabric was so heavy. It was made exceptionally well, so neat and detailed, lots of top stitching and I loved the red lining. Have a picture in my head with me waring it with my fave white holey socks and brown Clark's school shoes. Still got it, hanging on a very small hanger in my wardrobe. 

She also used to enjoy experimenting with 70s fashion on me before trying out looks on herself!! I remember sitting in the doctors surgery in Amersham, waiting for my Mum and brother to come out from seeing the doctor. I remember wondering why people were staring at me and looking down at myself and thinking why on earth am I wearing a forest green skirt that came down to my knees with dark brown flared trousers.....Mum what were you doing to me!! They were made out of that horrible polyester fabric that was really static and stuck to your legs. Yuck!! And those disgusting colours. I completely rebelled against those colours and started wearing more red and pink. 

Fabric and sewing run in the family. My Grandad was an upholsterer and curtain maker (he was exceptionally skilled, had so much patience), my Grandma a seamstress and hat maker and my Great Aunt ran away to London to become a fashion designer. My Grandad made me the best school play costumes. I was a lion in one play when I was about 6. He upholstered a pair of slippers, gloves and a barraclava in real fur for me and made me a real fur tail. To accompany the fur items I wore mustard coloured, ribbed thick tights and a brown polo neck jumper. The tights were too small though - I kept having to hitch them up. Even so, it was the best costume and my friends were very jealous. I also had all my front teeth missing and had to do a loud roar on stage which made everyone laugh. 

Another memory that this has just come to me is of a pair of silver Chinese silk pyjamas that my Uncle and Aunt brought back from their travels. I remember been given them. We were sitting in our lounge in Little Chalfont. I was about 6 years old. My Uncle was visiting for a night or 2. I think we had a Chinese take away that night too. Prawn balls in sweet and sour sauce, egg fried rice and beef chow mein. The pyjamas never fitted me, waist too small and legs too long, but they have always been lovingly hung in my wardrobe. I loved touching the silk fabric and analysing the floral pattern and wondering how it was made. My brother was given a red pair that have now been given to his son. Funnily enough China has always been a big inspiration to me, I have always been fascinated by the country and culture. The pyjamas inspired me to do a project on China at school. I have since lived and taught in Shanghai and have a home full of Chinese objects from my travels. I have just come back from visiting Hong Kong where my brother now lives.

I have really enjoyed writing that. I could go on and on and think I might. It has unlocked many memories and made me feel quite emotional thinking about my grandparents who have now passed away and my very happy and lucky childhood. It's also made me remember that fabric is in my blood, it's part of who I am. I know I have written about more than one memory, but the task has opened my memory box and lots of images have come flooding back. I wanted to get it all written down.