Living cloth; how our clothes can tell stories.

Living cloth; how our clothes can tell stories.

I love working with fabric, more specifically I love working with second-hand fabrics. Somehow these fibres manage to take in and keep hold of their history, they become alive in a way that other objects or belongings don't. I feel lucky to be able to preserve and extend their stories, writing my own ideas into them with every stitch.

How can clothes become alive I hear you say? I think they can because we keep our clothes so close to us, we take them everywhere with us and we also wear them as an expression of who we are and how we are feeling. They become our second skin and represent our character and personality even when we no longer wear them.

I recently read a great book by Orsola de Castro called 'Loved Clothes Last' (it's a fantastic read for anyone interested in caring for their clothes or curious about where their clothes come from) There is a part in the book where she describes looking at the clothes she used for her upcycling business and a game she could play to know more about the owner without ever meeting them. Just by examining the wear in the clothes you can see perhaps if the person is left or right handed (is one of the cuffs more frayed) if they cycle a bike (are there oil stains or damage to one of the legs), are the sleeves stretched from being pulled over hands or frayed from being worn in certain places. 

I began to be interested in the history and past life of fabrics whilst at University. I was writing about and exploring the value of second hand clothing and looking at where clothing ends up when it's donated or discarded. Thinking about this led me to think about where my clothes were coming from too. I bought a lot of second hand clothes in my teenage years and it fascinated me to think who might have owned them before and what kind of life they had together. A book I read at the time which I also really recommend is 'My Mother's Wedding Dress, The Life and Afterlife of Clothes' By Justine Picardie. It really inspired me and opened my eyes to the hidden value of our clothes and the stories they can tell.

It's my hope that by looking and thinking differently about our clothes we can strengthen the ties we have with them, we will be inspired to take better care of them and keep them for longer.

Just imagine if the conversation didn't go like this

Wow I love your dress.. 

Thanks it was in the sale.

But the reply was more something like this..

Thanks, this dress used to belong to my Aunt she lived in South America when she was younger and sent it to me for my birthday, the Toucan pattern was one of her favourites.

 I know which conversation I would prefer to be starting.

The trend for Visible Mending is one that I hope will continue, mostly because it's such a great way to write the story of the garment directly onto the piece.

Inspired by people who mend moth holes in jumpers by embroidering the image of a moth over it I also once mended my sisters jacket with an image of her dog. The jacket was a denim jacket that she often wore for dog walking, one day she left some treats in one of the pockets and while she was out the house Louie the dog managed to reach down the coat from the coat stand and try to get the treats out. Unfortunately Louie was not able to undo buttons with his paws so he had to chew a new hole in the jacket to get them out. As the jacket was still wearable apart from the new hole my sister asked me to fix it so it looked a little nicer, and I couldn't resist adding a little portrait of Louie so that his contribution to the jacket's history would not be forgotten.

So remember to be kind to your clothes they are doing you a better service than you may know. Also celebrate the stories behind your clothes they are a reflection of you and the life that you lead!

Louie the dog 

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