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Dressed for the occasion
Friday, March 27, 2009

So what if you were to make your own shroud? An idea I have discussed with a friend recently - it's not just because I have the flu honest. I started to think about what you might want to wear on this special occasion. Traditionally white of course - the Victorian starched cotton and crisp lace almost virginal but also set against the softening flesh for the final ride an offering for the fire. But surely a white corpse would not look good in white - no contrast? Not immediately anyway. Obviously no polyester or manmade fibres unless you are a burning and even then, no, not ever, too melty and unpleasant. Silk perhaps in a bright colour or set of colours exotic and tropical like a beautiful bird's plumage ready for flight. Or ikat especially the dark japanese types with something orange you have found in a charity shop - with the agnes b necklace or the pearls?

I like the idea of starting work on the garment having it ready, adding to it with buttons and lace and feathers and messages and poems and coins in pockets - so you know it will be there, saving the relatives a problem and also giving you death bed peace of mind and maybe a form of adjustment? After all it was not uncommon once to have your own coffin knocking about the place. Think Clarissa.

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4:26 AM   0 comments

Monday, March 16, 2009
Spent Saturday at a quilting exhibition with my lovely ma-in-law who is an expert craftswoman of nearly 90. She has always found me a dead loss in this department but was patient enough to show me a few tricks of the trade, in spite of not being well. In the old days, I had to suppress my domestic urges in the name of feminism - or believed I had to. She and I felt like women from different planets. Now, I love to watch her beautiful old hands thread a needle and knot the end of the cotton - so elegant. We were almost suffocated by quiltery and by the sighs and moans of women in the throes of acute textile lust. It must be how men feel looking at porn. I bought some Japanese pieces, all dark and moody and some spotty ones for summer. Joan cast a sceptical eye on my purchases, knowing the level of my ability. Ha I will show her! Perhaps. Also looked at a lot of impressive work - I particularly like the old pieces, with all the quilting done by hand. Imagine it would have been done by lots of women - hard to believe you could tackle one of these beasts alone. How lovely, the mixing and matching of scraps to form a thing of beauty - and how practical, warm and cosy on a cold night. Mixing memory and desire.

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Old clothes for old ladies?
Monday, March 9, 2009

I'm wondering if there is a time in a woman's life when vintage clothes might start to look like something she bought new and just failed to throw out. Spent yesterday in Brick Lane, and although there are some amazing shops and beautiful clothes, there is also an awful lot of tat. Overpriced tat at that - you don't want to pay thirty quid for a faded old cotton dress that probably cost 9s 11d once upon a time, especially one that is ripped and has suspicious, probably won't vanish out stains on it. There is so much of it too - must be endless warehouses with dodgy dealers climbing over it like Brazilian street kids. I remember the days when jumble sales were full of the most amazing top quality finds - 10p got you a 1930s jacket in hardly worn condition and Victorian nighties were almost given away. In the 70s wearing vintage was a way to assert your individuality - it was a cheap way to look good. Now it isn't cheap and unless you find something really beautiful (see previous post) you can end up looking like everybody else in that old dressing up box way. And this look can only be worn by the under 30s, I think. After that maybe it's time to grow up. I'm saying this but of course nothing will stop me regressing to favourite old dresses and what will make me chuck out my fabulous 1940s suits and coats even though I never wear them? I still like the feel of old material (although I tried on an old cardigan yesterday which felt like a brillo pad so there are exceptions).

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