Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 82 years old today. Strangely, that doesn't seem all that old to me now. Oh... it's old but not old. It seems only as old as 62 seemed to me, oh, maybe 10 or 15 years ago. But I won't waste time talking about the unfairness of life and its shortness. (She lived to be 78)
I think I was four years old. Mom found a picture of a dress in a catalog. It was brown if I remember right. The skirt was solid brown and the bodice was gingham and it had an unusual double pocket - a solid brown pocket centered on top of a larger gingham pocket. Mom happened to have a small piece of turquoise gingham and an even smaller piece of solid yellow fabric. She proposed making for me a dress inspired by the dress in the catalog. But there was a catch. It would have to be the opposite to the dress in the catalog: gingham skirt and solid top and of course a gingham pocket on top of a larger solid pocket.
Well, this was simply unacceptable to my four-year-old self. I whined, I argued, I pouted, I argued some more and pouted some more. I can't explain it now except to say, "I was four," and it just seemed very, very wrong and the fact that there wasn't enough solid fabric to do it "right" was irrelevant. I guess I thought that my mom could do anything. She went ahead and made the dress the only way she could, gingham skirt and solid top, and once I saw it completed I liked it. I actually thought about making an adult version of this dress for myself - exactly like the one my mom made- just because she would have gotten a kick out of it but I never could find the exact right gingham.
Fast forward about six years. I was ten. We had found this great looking bright lime green pin dot fabric with a border of large pink flowers with orange centers. Mom was going to make a typical dress with a gathered skirt with the flower border around the bottom. But I had an idea. I wanted her to make a plain, straight dress, what she called a "shift", with the flowers going up and down the front, to one side. I got the feeling she thought it was a radical idea. She was not really hesitant. It was more like the idea caught her by surprise and she needed to think about it for a bit.
She did make the dress according my suggestion and we both loved it. I think of it as my first design idea, though it probably wasn't really. I have been picking out fabric and matching it to patterns for as long as I can remember so it's likely that I also had some original ideas earlier. Now... now I'm still getting ideas, making them happen, and I still never make anything without wishing I could show it off to my mom.
I had hoped to find photos of the these two dresses but I couldn't find any good ones. If I ever do I will update this.