Brightly colored memories

Growing up my parents used to regularly take us to visit museums and galleries in Boston. it was with the same reverence that they used to take up to visit Design Research in Cambridge.


The late 1960’s and early 1970’s were a time when really wonderful innovative design was coming out of Scandinavia. Visiting DR (as the store was called) was a heady visual experience.


One of the joys of our visits was checking out the Marimekko fabrics.  My mother had basic sewing skills and used to buy a half yard top cover a square down pillow she had inherited from her mother. My mother would hand stitch  the simple cover.


In the early 1970’s one of my sisters learned how to sew and my parents bought her a sewing machine.  My sister decided that she wanted to make herself a dress out of Marimekko fabric. It was an expensive endeavor. Today a yard of Marimekko fabric costs more than $50 per yard. I seem to remember the cost as being $25 per yard, although I might be mistaken.

My sister purchased a Vogue pattern that could be made with just a yard of fabric. It was a simple darted shift with an extended shoulder that made a simple cap sleeve.


My sister, a perfectionist worked carefully. I remember one magenta dress with orange and red concentric circles and a green dress where she added the optional bell sleeves. My sister was thin in those days. The fashion for skirts was short, even at the Orthodox day school that we attended, so making a dress out of one yard of 60 inch wide fabric was doable.

Today, those of us who love the look of Scandanavian design but aren’t ready to pay $53/yard for fabric to be made into a summer dress, IKEA is a great alternative.

I went to IKEA a week ago Sunday to buy racks to use at the Women’s League show.  I found the racks I wanted in their damaged/last chance/seconds room. I also found a length of terrific fabric that cried out to be made into a summer dress.

IKEA fabric is always a bargain, but this was three yards for $10.  I brought it home.


I made this dress.


Yup it has 1973 written all over it.


I could have seen several of my teachers wearing it

(OK with short sleeves, because while short skirts were acceptable at my school sleeveless was verboten, or with a white rayon cardigan worn to cover the shoulders)


I didn’t make this with a short skirt. I can’t carry off a short skirt.

Wearing this dress I am filled with nostalgia. My mother bought a few Marimekko dresses ( on clearance) that she treasured. She always used to say that they were cool to wear and wore like iron.


I love the crazy green and the giant leaf print. I feel; like an academic wife from 1973 when I wear the dress. It makes me feel like I have to start a co-op day care center before I go to the anti-war rally, and after I get home from the consciousness raising group.


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