"Using things is not dependent on producing and consuming more, and yet it fulfils many of the needs we try to meet when we buy new goods. It takes its bearings from the practices and ideas of tending and wearing, in the context of real lives. It is a diversified view of fashion beyond the market and the market's purpose, trading in the economies of time, creativity, and community." (p. 17)
"To choose what we are and what we do with our clothes daily is to have the power to alter the fashion system." (p. 23)
Craft of Use: Post-Growth Fashion by Kate Fletcher
I'm reading a really fascinating book right now complied by fashion and sustainability professor, Kate Fletcher.
She writes an introduction about "the craft of use" or what happens to clothing beyond being purchased in a traditional retail environment. The rest of the books is photos and short accounts of individuals' relationships with special garments that function in this zone of use, rather than consumption.
The bite-sized stories make for perfect bedtime reading, while Fletcher's denser ideas have my head spinning with critical theory throughout most of my waking hours these days and the ideas give deeper enjoyment of sewing projects that tend to the clothes I already have and use.
Today's mending basket tale is about a garment that is, I think, my favorite thing I've ever made. It was becoming dangerously frayed and fragile, but I am happy to report that it is back in my wardrobe and better than ever. it's my cognac/blush linen Metamorphic Dress. The blush side cut from a vintage jacquard linen table cloth that I dyed with onion skin.
This vintage table linen had some weak spots of use, including some mends, already when I cut the pattern out. I tried to cut the strongest parts for the bodice and skirt and use the mended pieces for the pockets, but the yardage was scant, so some pieces of the garment are more fragile than others.
After 1.5 years of constant wear, the side seams and one portion of the skirt were becoming threadbare, with little holes starting to grow.
I stopped wearing the blush side, but as it became more fragile, even wearing it on the inside was stressing the fabric. This fall, I put it in the mending basket to preserve it until I could figure out how to best fix it.
I had some scraps of the original fabric, as well as other fabrics from the same dyepot, which I could use as patches. I also found some very special sashiko thread in a soft color that was created to look like a natural dye. It was created by sashiko artist Keiko Futatsuya, "to mass produce the 'Color similar to Natural Dye'."
I used my sewing machine to finish the edges of the patches and sewed a collage of patches over all the holes, threabare seams, and weaker spots of fabric. I reinforced each side seam and one portion of the skirt that was wearing thin.
On the front panel, I opted for a patch pocket next to a small patch in the very center that was covering a hole - this gave the whole thing a more balanced feel. Even though it already has in-seam pockets, it felt like the right choice. I do love the intuitive artistry involved in mending. The places a garment wears out tend to naturally create a certain aesthetic balance to the mends, but sometimes an extra creative touch helps make the mends feel more like intentional design choices.
In the end, I am in more in love with the garment that ever before, feel confident to wear both sides again, and trust that I can keep mending and reinforcing any places that wear out over time.
A bit about me:
My grandmothers grew up in the Great Depression and their stories, skills, and resourcefulness made a beautiful mark on my heart. I am always making something, usually with fiber or textiles. I love scraps and reusing things and rescuing overlooked treasures. I think about a lot of things while I am making. Here is a record and, hopefully, a connection to the thread of my story.