In praise of mending TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR GOOD WORKS
It was part of house keeping: winter evenings by
the fire-side mending and renewing garments, worn or outgrown. For most families, even everyday clothes were
expensive and treasured. Making, mending, laundering,
ironing and starching were important tasks. Today, mending is seen as a quaint remnant of the past. Even in
developing countries professional menders have seen their clientele almost disappear. Why mend when it is so much
easier, and sometimes cheaper, to buy new? Because
mending teaches us that clothing can have a soul, a memory, and should be treated with respect. Daily care of
our clothes becomes almost a ritual, and can even be relaxing as we launder, iron, patch and stitch our thoughts
and dreams into them. In fact it was the needlework involved
in mending that brought about the advent of embroidery: the utilitarian became embellishment and the time is ripe to
take fresh inspiration from functional processes. •••
Folded: a shirt maps out the passage of the iron and a caring hand
Patched: preserving a textile's experience, visible patches add new interest
Hang it out THE NEW SELVEDGE CAMPAIGN LAYS IT ON THE LINE
The people’s friend
TEACHING THE WORLD TO SINGER
Imagine trying to findyour way to a particular merchant through the warren-like streets of a rapidly
expanding 17th-century London, long before the advent of house numbering. A slow and frustrating task until an astute businessman hit upon the idea of producing cards, printed by woodcut or letterpress, explaining
his location. This early form of advertising quickly proliferated as printing methods developed, reaching its heyday after 1870 when affordable colour lithography brought the production of trade cards within the reach
of businesses, large and small. The cards advertised food, tobacco, clothing, medicines – anything in fact
needed around the home or farm. They were handed out in the street, mailed or put into the bag with your shop purchases. Collecting and pasting them into scrapbooks became a hugely popular pastime.
There were two types of card. Most common were the generic – often sentimental or amusing – scenes including children, animals or flowers that appealed to Victorian tastes. The back or a panel on the front of
the card would be blank to allow the advertiser to stamp his details. Some companies, however, had their
cards custom-made, usually picturing their product. This form of advertising was enthusiastically adopted by the manufacturers of sewing requisites and particularly by the Singer Manufacturing Company.
In 1850 Isaac Merritt Singer devised the first treadle-operated sewing machine with an up and down needle action – a great improvement over the existing circular action machines. Three years later they were
being manufactured in New York City, and by 1855 Singer had become the world's first international
company, with an operation in Paris. Over the next 50 years factories were set up in Brazil, Scotland, Russia, Austria, Prussia and Canada, as well as in several more locations across the US. In 1870 Singer's famous
trademark appeared, featuring a young lady seated at her machine, entwined by a giant red 'S'. The design had to be altered in Russia because there is no letter in the form of 'S' in the
Cyrillic alphabet. Cyrillic 'Z' had to be used instead. By 1890 Singer claimed
an 80% share in the sales of sewing machines worldwide. It set up a vast network of local agents and salesmen, and instruction manuals were
“Singer sewing machines could be found even in homes of modest means”
produced in 54 languages. Singer sewing machines could be found even in homes of modest means, made attainable by Singer’s innovative policy of
allowing customers to pay for their machine in easy instalments.
If Selvedge readers boycotted their tumble-dryer for three months this summer we could collectively save one thousand tonnes of C02; enough to fill 150,000 double-decker buses.
We want you to turn off your tumble-dryer. It might seem like a lot to ask but the advantages
are clear. An electric tumble-dryer is one of the
largest energy consuming devices in the home, accounting for a massive 4.9% of the UK's entire
domestic electricity consumption. Textiles have a poor record when it comes to
environmental damage. The water consumption and
chemical pollution associated with crops such as cotton are staggeringly high. Yet because this
production feels removed from our consumer experience it remains relatively easy to ignore. What
we can take control of is the environmental impact of
our clothes and household linens after purchase. And if you think that impact is small you would
be very much mistaken. Kate Fletcher, author of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles explains, “even
though the typical garment is only washed and dried
around 20 times in its life, most of its environmental impact comes from laundering... not from producing
the fabric”. Tumble-drying accounts for 60% of the energy used during this period. Changing our
laundry-drying habits could be one of the most
significant, and easiest contributions we can make. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if all
Selvedge readers commit to line-drying their laundry for half the year rather than using a
tumble-dryer, collectively we will save enough
carbon dioxide to fill 309,000 double-decker buses (2,000 tonnes a year). That would shave
£493,000 off the nation’s annual domestic energy bills – enough to pay the energy costs for
400 UK homes.
Fact 1: More than 40% of UK households use a tumble-dryer Fact 2: Almost 1 million dryers are sold every year. Fact 3: Tumble-dryers account for 4.9% of the UK's entire domestic electricity consumption Fact 4: If all households with a tumble-dryer dried one laundry load on a washing line each week, instead of by machine, they would save over 750,000 tonnes of CO2in a year.
Register your decision to turn off your tumble-dryer and share tips, advice and suggestions with other Selvedge readers at www.selvedge.org/blog
In the UK one of the most commonly cited reasons for shunning our washing lines is the inclement British
weather. In fact good drying weather relies on wind
rather than hot sunshine so you can hang out even on an overcast day if there is a breeze.
Of course there are days when using an outside line just won’t work and many urban dwellers lack outside
space. Laundry draped over radiators is a rather
undesirable look and is inefficient too, so what are the alternatives? Revive the use of a ceiling airer. These
attractive functional objects make full use of the warm air that rises in our homes, floor-standing or wall-mounted
dryers work equally well.
If you make a commitment to natural drying you will reap the benefits. The most obvious one is financial as
your energy costs will be reduced, but there are other subtle gains to be made. Your clothes will last longer
(the lint you empty from your tumble-dryer is actually
lost fibres from your clothing) and the chances of accidentally ruining your favourite jumper are remote.
By shifting our perspective and trying to enjoy life’s simpler tasks we can increase our sense of satisfaction.
After all no fabric softener can compete with the smell
of line-dried laundry and it’s worth taking a moment to relish it. More than this, drying your laundry outside
gets you outdoors, physically connecting you with the environment you are helping to protect. ••• Textile Footprint, Textile Forum South West
Conference, 21 March 2009, Exploring ethical investment in textiles. Keynote speaker, Kate
Fletcher, Sustainable Fashion and Textiles, Somerset College of Arts & Technology, T: 01793 751249O, www.textileforumsouthwest.org
Plain folk ILLINOIS AMISH QUILTS
The ‘discovery’ of Amish quiltsas an art form is relatively recent. Most Amish quilts remained in Amish homes until the 1970s. They were a part of everyday life for generations, reflecting a blend of practical needs with religious practices and the aesthetic preferences of the community. The unworldly community of Old Order Amish families strives to remain separate from its non-Amish neighbours. Efforts at disassociation from the surrounding secular society are evident in their rejection of gas-powered vehicles, electrical power networks and fashionable clothing. Without modern conveniences, the pace of Amish life is slowed and focused on church, family and community. The first Amish families came to the colony of Pennsylvania in America from the Alsace region of the Rhine Valley in the 1730s seeking religious freedom. In 1693 their leader, Joseph Amman, had broken from the Mennonites, a conservative, pacifist Christian religious group with origins in the Protestant Reformation. Their refusal to recognise the authority of the State over the Church led to persecution by civil authorities in Europe but their communities flourished in Pennsylvania. During the 19th century, Amish families followed the western expansion of the United States and founded Amish communities in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Although the first Amish quilters in America learned their craft from their non-Amish neighbours, they developed a style of their own. Their religious leaders prescribed solid-colour fabrics for their clothing – printed fabrics were too fancy and prideful – and scraps from these plain clothes became quilts. The pieced patterns they used are varied and based on non-Amish sources, but some, such as Diamond in the Square, Bars, and Sunshine and Shadow have become associated with the Amish.
In the 1970s, collectors began to find Amish quilts in antique shops around Lancaster County, Pennsylvania – the oldest surviving Amish community. The bold, saturated colours and large, simple designs differed from most American quilts but they were not immediately associated with the Amish. The search for their origins revealed an Amish style of quilt-making that seemed to reflect the aesthetics of abstract modern art. The provenance of Lancaster Amish quilts was rarely recorded but some collectors have endeavoured to record their history. David Pottinger began collecting Indiana Amish quilts in 1974 and moved to northern Indiana in 1977 to operate a general store for the Amish. Although some Amish quilts are kept for sentimental reasons, most are made for use and when worn out some are recycled into fillings for comforters or other quilts. When the Amish offered a quilt for sale, Pottinger noted that they were judging it to be “too small, too thin, and too dark to be of much use or beauty”. Despite this Pottinger recognised a rare opportunity to document quilts directly from the maker or the maker's family. He also discovered Illinois-made quilts in Indiana that had travelled between communities as gifts and in the 1980s began collecting quilts from the Amish area around Arthur, Illinois – an Amish community was founded on this fertile prairie in 1865. Today it numbers about 4,200 and is the fourth largest in the US. The Illinois State Museum purchased Pottinger's collection of Amish quilts and is working to preserve and interpret the quilts and the community history they represent. Family histories were checked against genealogical and public records to verify names, dates and relationships. The quilt fabrics, patterns, sizes and construction techniques were analysed.
Animal magic OBSERVING TAMAR MOGENDORFF IN HER NATURAL HABITAT
A modern menageriefills a room in Brooklyn. Here artist Tamar Mogendorff works day and night on her handmade animals and objects.
Referencing the natural world, Tamar takes inspiration from her kitty, Tulu,
and also from her childhood in Israel. The daughter of a Dutch father and an Israeli mother, in her family someone was constantly making things – when you
needed something, you made it, she says. Working with her hands is second nature for her and she "loves to feel things”.
Tamar's upbringing in a creative family led her to study graphic design at art
school. For years she worked with plants and flowers which nurtured her love of all things natural. She arrived in New York in 2001 where she was employed in
a small boutique flower shop called Polux. The space was inspiring; an edited selection of handmade goods mingled with hard-to-find blooms and interesting
plants. After working there for a few years she branched out on her own.
Her objects gained a loyal following in the most organic of ways – she made some for friends and others wanted them. Encouraged by her co-workers'
fondness for her objects, she placed a few in the shop. They were perfectly at home in its artful environment. As demand for her wares grew, Tamar began
REPRO: Hi Res supplied --
Rinne Al le n
selling them in other boutiques. Now her work is in shops all over the world, particularly those who endorse the handmade and enjoy working directly with
artisans. Occasionally she works with shopkeepers to personalise their selection
by customising colour or pattern, offering an individual, curated collection. Each morning, Tamar settles herself in her grandmother's old wicker chair.
Her living room/studio fills with light and she is surrounded by pieces from friends and family that have personal meaning – on her wall is a red and white
crocheted bear that her grandmother made, and nearby, sit two of the original
dolls that she made with a friend years ago in Israel. When exploring new concepts, she starts slowly, dwelling on an idea for a long time. The day she sits
down to make the piece, the form flows without need of pattern or prototype. She describes her process as “low tech”, but full of feeling: “I love what I am doing,
I would not be able to force it.”
Sometimes, when she is working, her sister, and even her mother, stop by to help her sew. If needed she has had a helper or two that she can call on. She
recalls one potential helper protesting that they barely knew how to sew on a button – to Tamar, this was “perfect”. She enjoys the random stitches that an
SELVEDGE('selnid 3 ) n. 1. finished differently 2. the nonfraying edge of a length of woven fabric. [: from SELF + EDGE]
INDULGEtextiles to buy, collect or simply admire 15 Hop to it This Easter choose sweet treats that are calorie-free... 34 My beautiful launderette Banish wash-day blues 41 True lineage The trials and tribulations of a ticking collector 71 Guiding hand Collecting embroidered silk postcards 76Selvedge drygoods Spring cleaning essentials and some well-earned rewards
INDUSTRY from craft to commerce
13 Miscellany Just stringing you along... 73 Design file A case history of Lilian Dring 75 Shop talk Why Carolyn Cowan offers retail therapy
ANECDOTEtextiles that touch our lives 27 Properly educatedFive simple skills your mother should have taught you 32 Hang it outOur new campaign lays it on the line 96 Slim pickingsMoney for old rope
CONCEPTtextiles in fine art 52 Dress rehearsal Margareta Kern’s clothes for living and dying
ATTIRE critical reporting of fashion trends 20 In praise of mending Shabby chic 56 Small pleasures Makié has made a great success of her scaled-down designs
COHABIT stunning interiors beautifully photographed 36 Between the linesTeresa Green finds space to live and work 64 COVER STORY Animal magicTamar Mogendorff in her natural habitat
GLOBAL travel destinations and ethnographic textiles 46 The people’s friendTeaching the world to Singer 60 COVER STORY Plain folkThe history of Illinois Amish quilts
INFORMthe latest news, reviews and exhibition listings
04 bias/contributors 05 correspondence 07 competitionOur search
for talented readers 08 news 10 sustain ethical ideas 17 how to... make an apron 59 readers offers 86 international listings
Exhibitions, fairs, events 84 read
Liberty & Co, English
Embroidery 90 view
Zsako Torma Family,
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Tales, Clarke’s Cabinets 92resources 80subscription offers
A Toast peg bag for new
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