…the meaning of fashion, and our attachment to it, goes much deeper than mere trends or seasonal change. Each of us has memories, sometimes tender, sometimes not, of particular garments or accessories that evoke strong feelings and attachments. So this week’s Carnivale of the Couture topic is “Ritual Cloth” – tell us about your special item, the story behind it and why it transcends mere fashion for you…
The theme of my entry is guilt ~sigh~. This first piece is a purse made by Victoria Horner, one of “my” DEs. It was made from an antique kimono.
Victoria sent me this bag for Christmas in 1999. At that time my life was falling apart; I’d just gotten my diagnosis, my then husband was divorcing me, my son and I had no money and no place to go. Outside of childhood, it was the worst Christmas of my life. Victoria’s bag was the only gift I got that year. In the midst of abandonment, desperation and betrayal, I couldn’t stop crying long enough to thank her. I didn’t feel like anyone cared about me or loved me and I could never muster the words that came close to expressing my gratitude. I felt so guilty that I haven’t written her in 6 years. I guess she’ll know today since I’m linking to her (assuming she checks her site stats; I’m still too chicken to write). I can only hope she’s forgiven me.
This next guilt cloth is a child’s backpack. I made this for my son when he started pre-school, I’d just gotten a job (the fabric came from the floor of the cutting room so I was risking firing) and while things were looking up for us, our poverty was palpable. I just couldn’t send my son to school without one; all the other kids had one and he didn’t need to stand out anymore than he already did. I got the zippers, hardware and strap padding from a discarded (torn) cheap backpack I found in the alley.
At this time I was still making our own soap (too poor to buy it), washing clothes in the bath tub, drying sheets on the fence (and watching them from the porch; our neighborhood was bad) and ferrying my son back and forth to school on my bicycle and then going to work. I did my grocery shopping on the city bus but I also used the back pack for small shopping trips. This is the same time period in which my bike got stolen. I’ve never gotten over that. Nobody could have needed that bike more than we did.
This next guilt cloth is a sportcoat I made for my son when he was about 5 years old. The sample maker at work (Leona) invited me to her daughter’s wedding which she was hosting. She is Pueblo Indian and I was the only anglo person invited; it was quite an honor. I made this for my son to wear to the wedding but we never made it. My then boyfriend (who later became my then spouse) started a fight with me beforehand and refused to take us (I still didn’t have a car then). It wasn’t until years later that I figured out he was prejudiced against Native Americans (I am so slow). I know it wasn’t my fault we didn’t go but I’ve always felt like I betrayed her.
Mike has never worn the coat and Leona never forgave me.
I couldn’t find the one item I wanted to feature. It was a coat I’d made for my son when he was about 4 years old. We’d just gotten out of the battered women’s shelter and were living in a halfway house and he was ill or hospitalized most of the time. I wasn’t -couldn’t- work, winter was coming and he needed a coat. Children’s coats are hard to find at the Salvation Army so I got a man’s coat and took it apart to make him one. I did have a sewing machine because a volunteer at the shelter had given me one (a DE going out of business). He loved it and wore it till it was ragged. I can’t find it but it is the inspiration for a personal project of mine that I’d like to pick up again. I used to teach coat sewing -free- provided it’s a children’s coat and it is donated to a battered women’s shelter. If you think you might be interested in a project like this, do let me know.