Tuesday, 17 January 2012


In this post I shared some of the pretty vintage accessories given to me by a wonderful family friend who is in her 90s. Sadly, she has had to move out of her home and so has been giving away her belongings. When she heard I was learning to sew, she wanted to give me her stash of sewing things: fabric, scraps, unfinished projects.
What an incredible gift and opportunity! I was so touched. I couldn't keep it all so I went through it with my mum at Christmas: some things were so smart we gave them to a friend-of-a-friend who owns a vintage clothes shop and who we think can finish them and sell them - they were not my size and deserved a fancy future.
There are all kinds of fabrics and trims in the stash I kept: from cheap and cheerful to seriously chic; from ultra-patterned to plain and simple. I am so happy to have all these bits and bobs to use in creative ways in my sewing projects.
What struck me is that this lady saved everything, even the smallest scraps, even hems cut off the ends of trousers. I think it has been stressful for her as she has accumulated a lot of stuff, but at the same time it means a lot to me that she has passed on some of her collection. When I use these materials I will think of her and there will be a lot of love going into the things I make.
I have seen a lot of posts lately about the importance of de-cluttering, in the spirit of the new year. I agree that we have to choose wisely what we keep in our living spaces. It is essential not to let things become more important than people. If you've ever seen the show Hoarders (which I occasionally watch with a mixture of fascination and abject horror) it's clear that it's possible for the things/people balance to go terrifyingly awry!
{Eeeek! From the TV show not my home, I hasten to point out!!!}
But at the same time I believe in the importance of preserving and valuing precious things, and investing objects with meaning. This stops things being just throwaway objects of consumption and reminds us of the human labour that went into making them, as well as being material links to special people or moments.
These beautiful scraps of green and gold brocade were wrapped in newspaper dated 1946: a little reminder of the past - and some seriously hard times in post-war Europe - a past that my friend actually lived through as an adult. For me, these are tactile traces of the past.

Whenever I write about projects that have incorporated these treasures, I will link back to this post as a reminder of the history and special friendship embedded in the materials.

p.s. if you liked today's post you might also be interested in this old post about tasting memories in jam.

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