Monday, April 20, 2009

Be Ye a cutter????

So many occurrences of 'cutting' have come to my attention lately, that I feel compelled....nay-obligated, to address this current fad here on my blog. This is a subject near and dear to my heart, that has forever tormented me beyond belief.

What exactly do I mean by 'cutting', you ask? I use the term 'cutting' to refer to a person taking an otherwise structurally sound piece of olde, antique clothing, and literally cutting it up to use for other projects- like quilting, patchwork and doll clothing. Lately, there is a new phenomena, of online sellers purchasing clothing to which they in turn cut into squares and strips to sell to unknowing doll makers and craftsmen.

To say it bluntly, THIS IS WRONG.

I totally, 150% , support the boycott of any seller that has such blatant disregard for the historical importance of an object- for once a piece of clothing has been cut into its basic
elements, once it has been reduced from its conceived utilitarian purpose of covering the human body- it can no longer be tied to a certain place in time and history. It looses all its past significance- its use, and purpose......and is now just a pile of flat textile. Many times, in the study of a textile alone as a woven piece of cloth, so much of its history is learned by how it was made up- what it had 'become.' What a piece of fabric is made up into- be it a dress or apron or coat...can specifically date the fabric just by cut (style) alone. To take that away from a piece of
clothing, leaves it to float in space- with practically no worth, no home.

I do agree, that once a person buys 'something', it is theirs to do with as they please, it just pains me so, how people these days can be so ignorant and selfish. There are plenty of re production fabrics, and finely made modern fabrics, that with a little work, can be made to look nice and olde, like what we all like to see our precious olde dollys in. It is perfectly O.K. to make things from scraps~ to reuse precious olde long as they ARE that..precious olde BITS.....and not an early piece of clothing.

Many articles of clothing around the 1900s were sized and weighted with metallic substances, which has cause them to shred badly- some call it melting- in these cases, what more honor could a person do, but to take what usable parts remain, and make something beautiful from them. Cutting a garment that is not beyond all repair is a totally different story, and when we are talking clothing prior to 1850, these should not be cut at all!

I beg of you, plead with you all, to not allow this horrible fad to continue- history is being
lost forever, and once lost, can NEVER be replaced.

Do NOT buy from sellers or doll makers who specifically cut up otherwise perfectly good clothing to use in their crafts.

And if you are reading this, and are thinking of doing the 'unthinkable' for your next project, please, please..... pleeeeease~ do NOT!


Heather said...

oh, i cringe at the thought! I dont get how people can use original vintage items and effectly destroy them for art. I collect vintage photos (my orphan babies!) and scan them. I use the scanned images in my collages because I cant stand the thought of truly damaging forever a historic piece. It breaks my heart!

Christine LeFever said...

I am in total agreement with you Rachael, and you too, Heather! I admire people who beautifully age the good reproductions or use as you said the already bits. And, I shan't ever cut into one of my beautiful, old photos either, Heather! Nor would I glue one to something!

Nope, I won't cut up a garment to dress my dolls. I also don't like to use delicate old fabrics because they aren't durable. They really should be stored for posterity.

(The greed factor is ignorance itself.)


Sue said...

Yes, I agree with 90% of your post. I am a founding member of VFG (Vintage Fashion Guild, I collect and also sell vintage clothing.

And, I also sculpt art dolls and always use antique and/or vintage fabric and trims. I do not cut into anything that can be salvaged or repaired or anything that has historical importance (i.e. your example of items dating prior to 1850). My doll artist friends that use antique/vintage textiles also have a great respect for the history of the item.

Unfortunately, it is rather hard for a buyer to discern if an artist has willfully damaged a good piece of textile, or saved same from the landfill. Because of this, I feel that your statement to boycott is rather strong. In a purchaser's mind, it is lumping together all artists that repurpose vintage into one unsavoury group. This is the 10% (due to the strong statement) that I have to disagree with. If a buyer sees in an item description that the artist used vintage fabric - what are they to think?

Sorry for the long reply, but having my feet on both sides of the fence, I wanted to add my 2 cents worth.

Rachael Kinnison said...

THANKYOU Sue for taking the time to write. I most certainly agree~ and in my 'boycott' statement, I will admit that it was mainly aimed at online sellers of flatfold textiles and doll makers, who, may in fact have NOT given a prior thought to cutting for their craft (gasp). Several instances have come to my attention teh past few weeks, where I have actually seen the garments in perfect order, sold online, and then not a week later, seen them cut up into squares on eBay.... if a person has a question about the origin of a textile, by all means~ just ASK the seller! I also feel, as a dollmaker, it is very important to add to ones descriptions, that "No antique clothing is destroyed in the making of this doll".
Sue~ I thank you greatly for your comments!

Sue said...

I agree that perhaps a statement on listings would be a good idea to clarify that no antique/vintage textiles were harmed. That would easily clear up any confusion a potential buyer may have.

I have to say, I love the work you are doing to maintain a part of fashion history with your Ladies Repository Museum. Tremendous.

Christine LeFever said...

Rachael Ashwell of Shabby Chic fame is adamant never to cut up vintage attire. She has mention of it on her blog.


Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

Hi, Rachael -

This is an interesting dilemma, isn't it? There are many wonderful reproduction fabrics (love them!). Old garments are not in my price range so I don't have to deal with this challenge. But I have purchased a petticoat or two with holes and weak spots that I've used.

Do you know of online sources for fabric that would be historical substitutions? For instance, it is very hard to find the right weight of appropriate cotton for undergarments. Can you post those links and offer some guidance in that way?

Rachael Kinnison said...

Thanks for writing Dix! Wonderful reproductions can be found at Margo Krager's website , and even better yet, especially for reenactors~ is William Booth~ ~ they have all the different, period correct dress fabrics, and the harder to find fabrics used in underclothing. In dolly clothing, it is a bit more difficult to find the right weight and feel of fabric for pantaloon & petticoats~ if you are looking only in flatfold. You will find a plethora of wonderful selections to choose from, and you need go no further than your bedding dept at your favorite store~ not to mention the flea markets and tag sales. sheets. they have a ton of fabric in them, and you can really find some very nice and high end fabrics in the designer sections~ you can easily find the dense higher thread counts, and even in linen~ newly made, ready to cut to shreds and make something wonderful out of!!!
xoxoxo rachael

Dixie Sargent Redmond said...

This discussion is a good one to have, because there may be people out there cutting up perfectly good garments and not understanding what they are doing. I have a dress from the early 20th century that looks perfect from the front, has been cut up the back by someone. I suspect it was a child who wanted to easily dress up in grandma's old dress from the turn of the century. I bought it with the intention of using the dress and the fabric for my dolls. Now I have guilt. ;-)

Rachael Kinnison said...

I agree Dix~ which is why I felt strongly about adding this subject to my blog. Your dress has suffered the same fate as soooooo many others...not only was playing dress up in Grandmas olde clothes common for the youngsters, but playing dress up in Great Grandmas olde clothes was common for adults~ if your gown is c1900 or after,fairly common without some special elaborate rare trim or from a famed designer, and is allready cut, you may as well go ahead and make something marvelous from it, with NO guilt!
xoxoxo rachael

Rachael Kinnison said...

Dixie has posted her thoughts on cutting on her blog~ you can see it here:

I highly reccommend reading it!
xoxoxo rachael

CARole said...

This subject was such an interesting read. I do not sew at all, but I too hate the thought of an early garment being cut and destroyed. I also agree on the subject of old photos. I think it's wonderful Rachael, that you brought up this subject. Good for you!