Thursday, 10 July 2014


After the little antique quilt project in my last post, I realised that one of the things I enjoyed the most was the actual unpicking of the fabric.  Discovering what was going on within the seams where the cloth was unchanged by light but still had the wear and tear of repeated washing and drying.  The old cotton had become very crisp and it was possible to even notice the different levels of wear on the warp and weft ... the warp lasts longer it seems.

I also really loved working with a finite amount of material and with someone else's stitches.  The quilt was long gone and the rest of it may well be in other projects scattered far and wide, but what I had was a little framed snapshot of the original seamstress's work.  This made me work consciously with more care and reverence than I would've done with a new fat quarter.  I followed the fabric's lead as I worked,  if it tore, I mended it and that became part of the piece.  I didn't discard worn cloth and incorporated seams and damage into my own, tiny patchwork.

I don't know why I find using up the last scrap of something so delightfully comforting, It's something I've done all my life. I hate waste but if I reuse or 'upcycle' something I've never really allowed the object's previous life to show before,  believing that it should be a miraculous transformation...something new, especially with fabric.  So I would cut around the buttonholes and discard the seams and my eyes would automatically seek out the big areas of fabric in a garment that could be recut and look like new.  Oh I'll tell people that I made a range of pincushions from a charity shop skirt because upcycling is cool right? BUT I don't want people to be able to tell that from looking, so I only pick the best bits of cloth and chuck out the worn bits so the skirt someone once made, loved and wore is now gone forever.

Maybe it's an age thing but the processes of wear and tear, mending and keeping are becoming more valuable to me the older I get. I've been unpicked and put back together more times than I can count and I absolutely did not emerge as a crisp,  fresh new me every time! (I wish! ).  I'm stuck with all my metaphorical expanded seams,  darned tears, stitch holes and fancily embroidered patches and they are actually alk Ok! 
This in mind, I'll most likely be exploring and musing on about my wrinkles,  emotional scars, stretch marks and cellulite through the metaphor of old cloth for a goodly while yet...that might well be a trigger warning for some of us but let's try and muscle past it!

This is a piece of loosely woven cotton that came from a second hand, commercially made blouse.  The blouse only had embroidery around the bottom and the actual garment got cut down into Dick Turpin's big shirt for my son last Halloween.  This left me with an eight inch band of cloth, white with a floral design couched on to it in the bottom of my sewing box.  I have actually no idea yet where the rest of the big lady's shirt will end up yet but here's what happened to it so far!  

Hem, seams and embroidery all unpicked over a fab couple of hours in the garden, darned and half tea dyed.  I love the patterns of holes left by the unpicking that all but disappeared on the piece that went into the tea bath. This may well embroider beautifully under a magnifier as a teeny sampler or pincushion. about ...

"As ye rip, So shall ye sew"?

Paula xxx

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