Whilst perusing the blogs I follow this morning, I came across one whose work I truly admire. I don't know it this person follows mine, I doubt it, but I do comment on hers in a complimentary fashion on a frequent basis. This blogger is a fabulous artist, makes things that I can never in my wildest dreams emulate. I have only the greatest respect for her work as an artist and a textile curator.
That said, there seem to be growing concerns about a populace referred to as "cutters". A 'cutter' by definition is one who cuts into antique garments to either sell piecemeal for what would be (probably incorrectly) assumed to make a higher profit...or me, the dollmaker/doll dresser.
Not certain if this person was singling me out, though it surely felt like it.
It is her general opinion that all should boycott someone like myself, who uses pieces of antique garments to repurpose into doll clothes for antique dolls, or doll making.
We are all entitled to our passions and feelings, and I do not want to make any waves or discredit anyone's opinion.
Making a generalization against anyone or anything is a trepidatious thing.
I do wish to publicize my opinion on the subject of 'cutters' and take this opportunity to defend myself and those who are included in this persons request to boycott the work of anyone who uses antique fabrics/garments in the creation of a new item.
Not all of us are disrespectfully taking an 1850 silk gown in displayable condition and cutting it up needlessly for our own profit. I'd say there are very FEW persons who would consider cutting up a truly historical garment, and these are the people who sell the fabric piecemeal. They are not doing anything constructive with the item, and these are the same folks who would take a Peterson's Magazine or Godey's and pull out all the colored fashion plates to sell individually, destroying the historical integrity of the magazine.
It's a crazy world we live in, and some people are out for merely profit...and some are persons of integrity who have worked hard to learn a nearly lost craft.
I am a CUTTER. I proudly admit that.
I am a Living Historian.
I am a craftsperson.
I cut up old nasty petticoats that are bloodstained in many places, are ripped, have torn and shredded lace and hems. These petticoats are from the late 19th/early 20th century. They are not displayable. They are not wearable. The work required to make them such is so costly and time consuming as to be a deterrent, which is why so many of these common articles wind up stashed in a trunk rotting and disintegrating.
I buy lots of clothing from sellers who don't even know what they've got. Just a trunk full of pieces of clothing. These items are most often falling apart at the seams and everywhere else.
Do I plunder such useless textiles for my work? YES. Where else are you going to find real brass hooks and eyes? Jet buttons. Beaded trims. A world of treasure that somebody initially threw away. There's no integrity left as a complete garment, so why waste the precious gems left behind?
There are people like myself, who see a treasure in someone else's 'trash', and make a new treasure out of it.
Historically accurate .
Most clothing from any century other than our own spoiled, throwaway 21st was re-used in some fashion. It was re-styled as fashions changed...and the remaining fabric not used, stored away for some purpose in the future (and often forgotton till someone like me comes along). The useable garments were then repurposed into childrens clothing. Then doll clothes. Crazy quilts. Pillows. Then lastly, cut into rags for homekeeping.
To call for an outright boycott of anyone using antique fabrics in their work is unfair.
I have pieces of collars, bodices, skirts and skirt linings, sleeves....they came that way, straight out of the trunk and they WEREN'T cut apart by the seller. There is no way to restore them to their original condition.
Should I throw these items away or let them continue to hide away for another century till there's nothing left of them?
I will continue to use what's left of salvageable parts of late 19th century garments. I am recycling them into a smaller version of their former selves for others to enjoy. And lets face it, there's not too much profit in that...the hours of tedious handsewing are never 'paid' for. I make far less than minimum wage on most projects. It's a labor of love and a desire to keep the past alive that keeps me doing what I do.
There are plenty of people who want their antique french fashion doll to wear a dress that looks like it actually belongs to the doll! A discarded, torn apart bodice will make a dress for this doll.
There are NOT many options for modern fabrics that replicate antique fabrics.
Yes, there are cotton reproductions aplenty. BUT, many textile blends from early times are no longer manufactured nor is it even known how many were made.
I would sincerely appreciate buyers take my statements into consideration that not all craftspersons are "ignorantly" plundering historical garments.
If in doubt, ask questions before committing to an all-out boycott.
Thanks for letting me express my humble opinion.