As a young fashion designer in my early 20’s, I acquired a precious collection of memories. Often, these memories would come in the form of a large cardboard box, hand delivered to me by one of my girlfriends.
“Are you sure you don’t want this? Surely you want to keep some of it?” I always asked.
They’d shake their head, saying “Take it Pen and make something beautiful. Otherwise we’ll just throw it out. No one in our family has a use for it or has any interest in it.”
With every box I received and delicately unwrapped, an overwhelming sense of responsibility would wash over me, followed by a little pang of sadness.
There, inside it, were intricately beaded trims, sequined and embroidered motifs, faceted, tear drop beads in warm amber tones, cotton trims, sewing needles for leather work, darning and hand stitching. Sewing tools and pattern making/ drafting utensils, silk twill fabric and cotton lace from the 1960’s and almost always, a half finished sewing project.
Memories of a woman’s life existed in these parcels. Whilst I knew the handmade is no longer prevalent in most households I struggled to understand how a family could throw something so precious, away? How come they didn’t see the value of its contents, if not for products then for what it represented? Why didn’t they know how to sew or want to learn how to sew in order to keep these artifacts in the family?
In all honesty, I didn’t need any of it. Yet I couldn’t bear the thought of it being thrown away or given up for adoption to a charity shop, so I graciously accepted the kind offerings knowing that one day I would find a use for them.
The problem is though, up until now, they’ve remained in their box.
There is something very intimate, delicate and sentimental about a woman’s sewing room/ cupboard. In a way it feels like I have been allowed access to her place of creativity and in turn her soul. The pressure to create something beautiful from these once cherished symbols and tools of hope and do them justice has meant I’ve deliberately side stepped them every time I go to design and make an outfit.
Yet, (and I know this from the passing of my own Nana and Grandmother), to leave these memories in a box, stored away from the world because they are too precious to use, or worse – allowing them to find their resting place in landfill, is like denying the memory and spirit of these women to live on. And, I’m not about that!
To give this context, if I were to pass away and my family threw out all of my art supplies and sewing materials, I’d be devastated (probably even heart broken) and would definitely go out of my way to ghost them for the rest of their lives!
So this is where my Consciously Spending Less To Create More Ep. 2 begins. From 1st October, 2019 to 1st October 2020, I will design, make and wear clothing using the existing fabrics, materials and haberdashery I have collected and inherited over 15+ years. I will share the stories behind each garment and how they came to fruition, as well as other untold stories of the fashion (and related) industries. From the inherited to the brand new, the less known to the well known and all the rest in between, the stories will be inspirational and educational, with a strong focus on the quality of craftsmanship, techniques and skills involved. They’ll be uplifting, fun, entertaining, creatively communicated and respectful to the craft. To follow the journey and receive all the latest news, resources, product announcements and other delightful perks, subscribe to the Consciously Spending Less To Create More newsletter, here.
I’m a fashion illustrator, designer, storyteller and ambassador who helps brands in the fashion, lifestyle and travel industries, build brand recognition, credibility, loyalty, and trust whilst offering a fresh perspective.