Past lives

What I really like about using old clothes is exactly that: you can see that they were once clothes. In piecing these bits of silk shirts, I can see the ghosts of their former lives. I can see the place where there used to be a label:

… and a dart:

… and a seam:

And so today I’m thinking about this coming together, this gathering of cloth that used to clothe other people far away. I’m thinking of the silkworms who made the fibre, and the people who spun the thread, and the people who wove the cloth, and the people who cut and stitched the garments, and the shops that sold the garments, and the women who bought and wore them. So many people, so many lives. I wonder how many hands this cloth has passed through in its short life.

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18 Responses to Past lives

  1. I like to use pieces a little like that, I usually have a momnet of wondering who put it together and how what they have done has affected my life in small simple ways. They live on through my pieces.

  2. julochka says:

    and think if you could tap into the memories layered there in the cloth.

    delicious thoughts…

  3. karen says:

    too many people to count probably and wouldn’t it be fascinating to know everything, and I mean everything about them…I’m nosey you see!! seams are my favourite things, just incase you didn’t know!!

  4. cathie says:

    How apropos I stumbled on this post. I just lost my dad and could not bring myself to discard any of his clothes. I brought them all back to North Carolina with me where I ceremoniously cut them up into fabric pieces which I intend to make myself a quilt from – all the while recalling events, holidays, photographs when I last saw him wearing that particular item. Yes – old clothes no matter what we may turn them into still weave their own tale.

  5. Penny says:

    And now once again these ‘old’ clothes are passing through yet another set of hands and another life.

  6. Deborah says:

    It is always interesting to imagine.

  7. arlee says:

    i remember when i threw out all those bits, now i covet them 🙂 A dairy of sorts to be deciphered!

  8. arlee says:

    crap, i mean DIARY 🙂

  9. Jan Marriott says:

    well…obviously this blog is just up my line. I clicked on yarngarden today (thank you) and will blog a bit about that site tomorrow.

  10. Rachel says:

    When you’ve used cloth from a garment to make another – and then, sometimes another, you end up reading the history of the fabric in seams and stitchmarks..

  11. Karen Turner says:

    Thanks, everyone. I guess these are just tracks of a different kind…

  12. kniterdone says:

    I love what you do with old clothes. It certainly adds a richness to your work. I feel like I can’t use another person’s seam in my quilts, but I quilt as craft, not art.

  13. Sweetpea says:

    I like thinking about “former lives” too.
    Good thoughts from a good stitcher, K!
    Thank you for the genealogy reminder ;>}

  14. Janice says:

    What a wonderful collection of blues and greens. I’m really looking forward to seeing this completed reversible jacket – inside and out!

  15. tina slipper says:

    that is exactly why I love repurposed fabric so much….

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