Jul 8, 2012

Heat leads to thinking.

It's a hot Sunday here. Too many days in the 100's  to be energetic. So most of the efforts expended lately have been on restoration,i.e., sewing in front of a fan. Photography will not happen here until the high drops down somewhere in the 80s and the photo lamps can come on again. 

So many hours stitching has led to some thoughts on current attitudes toward sewing and altering clothing. On the down side, I spend a lot of time taking out poorly done alterations in vintage clothing. Some done in the period or shortly thereafter, some done recently. Many are almost irreversible, and and quite a few leave permanent marks that down grade the value of the garment. That doesn't count the permanently cut off hems.

On the positive side, vintage clothing was made with enough seam allowance to be altered and the seams edges were finished separately so they could be easily unpicked. Not serged together, which is a little bit of hell to get apart. Manufactured clothing was good enough quality to be worth spending time and labor on to keep in it the closet and wearable when sizes and even fashion changed. 

I came to wonder how many women today would even consider shortening a hem, or taking a waist in? Clothing is seen as disposable, and is generally so cheaply made as to be unalterable anyway. Do people even mend their clothes now, or just throw them away? Much less make clothing for themselves?

Just yesterday I was bemoaning the lack of good fashion fabric stores in my area - everything is quilting, crafting or home decor. And then today I read an article that mentioned the sales of sewing machines were up in the US. It gave me hope that the art will survive. 

So what am I saying?  That while I love to find vintage fashions that  are unaltered, and I don't really enjoy resetting zippers and re-hemming skirts back to the original length, I think a world where clothes are valued enough to be worth investing labor in to fit properly and continue to wear over time  is a good one.

And if you want to think some more on this topic I recommend: The Vintage Traveler

Now, we can't leave without a pretty garment or two. And these are so nice for summer. 
L., Black & Pink Embroidered Taffeta 1950s Party Dress & R., 1960s Soft Lemon Yellow Linen Day Dress


Lisa said...

I really enjoyed this post. It got me thinking...mostly because I am in the habit of altering my vintage to fit me. Sometimes I do it myself and sometimes I take my stuff to my friend (who is a seamstress). Usually I am hemming my dresses (as I'm a bit short).
As often as I can, I try to keep the original integrity of the garment (keeping original hems etc...), but sometimes the piece must be cut to fit me.
My thoughts have always been "Isn't it better to give new life to this garment rather than let it languish in a closet?"
I realize that altering pieces incorrectly can diminish the value of a garment, but I collect to wear, so I continue to alter.

Thanks for the food for thought!

Past Perfect Vintage Clothing said...

You have expressed the continuing dilemma we all have! I think careful altering, with as little permanent repercussions as possible is the best course.