Why, when we are young, are we taught that it is wrong to be a copy cat? This is clearly nonsense. Isn’t imitation the most sincere form of flattery? Isn’t imitation in fact the basis of our early childhood development? We learn by watching and imitating others. We learn to speak by listening and repeating. We learn to walk by watching people do it. I personally as a child observed my older brother in all things and aimed to be just like him. This has yet to actually happen, but it did help me jump from the bottle to a glass with no sippie-cup required, so, hey, come on, obviously some part of that was valid.
I understand that the deeply held need for individuality and uniqueness can often feel at war with a generally imposed sense of conformity, of social instruction and expectation. But imitating someone else doesn’t mean you are trying to be like everyone else. Hell, sometimes it just means you like a shade of lipstick or admire someone’s reading tastes. In an age where information is rapidly shared, we, or at least the people I know, still have the impetus to declare themselves as the first, the originator, the conquistador of a trend or article or idea. Well, here is the thing about conquistadors. The places they discovered already had occupants. Just because they all died of Spanish flu and smallpox doesn’t mean they weren’t real. And before the Aztecs there were the Olmecs, and before them, someone we don’t even know about because the Olmecs were total jerks and wanted to set the trend, not just follow it. GOD. The OLMECS. COME ON. With their giant heads and their lost civilization. What dweebs.
Anyway, putting ancient Mexican history aside (how many sewing blogs have you read that on lately?) I just think its a little silly that we idolize, and teach our children to idolize, an impossible standard that leaves us unable to appreciate the value of copying others as we get older. And honestly, copying other people has taught me a lot about myself. Let’s try to rid ourselves of that word, and replace it with something more positive, shall we? Let’s call copying inspiration. After all, no copy is equal to the original in every way, it holds it’s makers mark in some way, even if they don’t want it to. So let’s be inspired, that’s a good thing, right? After all, as Picasso once said, Bad Artists Copy, Good Artists Steal.
In sewing, we copy all the time. I do it especially when I’m making something for someone else, because most of what people ask me to make or want me to make is a duplicate of something they love and wish they had more of. So my mom has this little adorable linen top and pants set which she bought at a store in San Juan which no longer exists. I call this her little Papaya outfit. It’s papaya colored (duh), loose, comfortable, kind of like a 20’s or 30’s style lounge suit, something she only wears in Puerto Rico. She likes it a lot, and I figured, it can’t be THAT hard to copy, er, be inspired by! So I made her another one. Boom. Only this time, it’s a little Lime outfit. And it’s awesome.
I used a lightweight finely woven linen I bought online from Mood Fabrics over a year ago, when I was still buying fabric. Sniff. I miss those days. Soon, soon! I said through October! I can do it!
The top is a modified Tiny Pocket Tank, which a button front. I finished it with store-bought bias tape. It was easy as all hell.
Isn’t my mom gorgeous? I’m actually quite proud of this simple outfit, it’s a great pleasure to be able to make something for someone you love and know that it’s exactly what they want. Not too bad for a copy-cat, eh?
Speaking of cats, my mom and I enjoy feeding the many stray cats of Old San Juan when we come down there. Here she is, in another one of my creations, a simple elastic waist skirt. Elastic waist goes really well with the Caribbean, guys, it accommodates a LOT of rice and beans and rum. Just sayin’.