An Unwitting Cutter???

"Hey there folks.
My name is Dixie,
and I'
well I have been...
um...a cutter."

I recently read a post called "Be Ye a Cutter?" at the Lady's Repository Museum. Scroll down to April 9th post. Rachel Kinnison is in one of my groups. I enjoy reading her blog and seeing her creations. Rachel Kinnison is a dollmaker, but is also passionate about antique clothing - passionate enough to start a repository museum to preserve antique clothing. In her April 9th post she warns about cutting up old antique garments to use in crafts. I quote Rachel:
"I beg of you, plead with you all, to not allow this horrible fad to continue- history is beinglost 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."
Even though I feel a bit reproached after reading it, this is a good topic for discussion among those of us who make antique inspired creations. I love old things, and my love of old things is actually how I came to be a dollmaker. I have some garments in my studio that I bought to cut, out of ignorance. But that is Rachael's point - to look at the garment and think "Is this irreplaceable?" "Is this history?"

For the most part what I buy are old antique slips with some holes in them or an old white fine dress that someone cut down the back a long time ago. Probably a child playing dress-up. My cousins and I used to have great fun wearing our aunt's old formal dresses for play. There was a particular turquoise strapless tulle gown that looked ravishing on the red-headed cousins. I'm not sure if the dress with the slit in the back and the holey petticoats I own have historical significance or not. But what if that very pair of breezy bloomers that I want to cut was worn by.....Madame X? Or my great-great grandmother? If I knew the person or were related to her I probably wouldn leave them as they are. Probably I should go sign all my underwear for posterity now ;-)

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

I understand why she's saying this. But how is a buyer to know, really? And is this reproaching hundreds of years of craftspeople and a tradition to reduce, reuse, recycle? Perhaps that's her point, though. We have so little left in terms of very, very old clothing precisely because of the "use it up" philosophy of our Pilgrim/Puritan forebears. They couldn't afford to preserve items. They turned dresses into aprons, aprons into doll dresses, jackets and pants into rugs, etc. A Yankee tradition, it is, and even supported by the government in the 1940's...

Well, it's all food for thought....

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden


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