1700s silk – embellished with tiny hand stitched darns.
The dealer laughed when I started taking photographs – she turned the textile over to show me the other side, the ‘real’ side, an incredible Indienne print.
“This is the ‘vrai coté” she informed me with a smile.
I was photographing the silk and wool underside of the bed cover, which had been worn threadbare with wear and age.
I can appreciate a beautiful intact antique textile but I’ll choose to fall hard for something worn and darned and falling apart every time.
Perhaps it is in seeing these tiny little stitches – either to embellish or repair something – that binds me to its maker.
Rather than buy a new designer dress to wear to a party – I will fall hard for a crumbling remnant of a forgotten dream. Fragments plagued by “inherent vice” and “glass-bead disease” ….intrigued you must read more here.
The further down this rabbit hole of antique textile discovery I delve – the more intrinsically connected I become to the humanity behind the textile; to the hands that once sewed; embroidered; mended; dyed; worked the loom; and darned.
1800s workers trousers… Turn them inside out and behold a tapestry of mending stitches.
And woven into the fabric is life itself, the makers dreams; love stories; layers of history; frivolity; a story of colour, heritage and knowledge….a tangible link to the human story behind a garment
A time machine.
A love letter.
An accidental work of art.
An embroidered indigo cape worn by a Vendean Rebel in 1700s
A vessel for lost dreams, for battles fought and won and lost again.
Best of all – I’m not alone, I’ve met so many wonderful kindred spirits – some are even more nuts about the tiny stitches than I.
We share a joyful secret. We are all connected by these threads.
I always like to ask my favourite dealers, women who have been collecting for 30-40 years, what makes their heart flutter. Their answers always differ and fascinate me. For some it is embellishment, beading and lace, for others white-on-white intricate boutis and then there is Francoise who loses her mind over workers garments (socks, long-johns, shirts) – turned inside out they reveal their true selves, each year a different mend, using a different colour of thread until they all fuse to create a symphony of stitches.
Here is to making 2016 a wonderful journey of discovery. A year of beauty, friendship, passion, kindness and love.
I have so much more to share with you here and on Instagram – so do follow along on our journey in 2016