The harvest season is not only a bounty of foods but also a bounty of rich earthy fashion as we seek warm comforts and colors for the colder months ahead. In my family we celebrate the heritage of our prairie ancestors who worked the land to create food and I invite you, as women, to also celebrate together our rich heritage of creating warmth and protection for mankind via clothing in wools and layers of sewn garments or knitted sweaters, mittens and hats. The harvest season is bountiful in food and fiber!
I am pleased to share an interesting collage of harvest, fashion and heritage with this image.
So. I’ve been preaching our women’s heritage to my 2 nieces all of their lives and I have passionately used the humble symbol of buttons to tell the story. I always include a button with my gifts or sewn treasures. Buttons from old family jars and tins. Mostly of vintage pearls and intricate metal etchings. Since my 20’s I have re-sewn antique pearl buttons on all my flannel nightshirts for sweet dreams on winter nights and homage to my grandmothers and their comforts. Imagine my delight when my youngest niece, Allison (an artist in her own right,) chose to use buttons as the foliage of the tree she painted for me. It will always be my family tree to me.
Beneath the tree are ladies of the harvest, sculpted and designed with the weave of a cornhusk and its silk. Created by my aunts and grandmothers of the prairie. As seamstresses, look close at the designs created. A bishop sleeve, a bodice and a bonnet with silk braids beneath… a bountiful skirt, an apron, a basket. Only ladies of cloth would know these details of style to sculpt and fold in cornhusk. Knowing hands and fingers shaped these garments with centuries of memory and a knowing touch. Is this what gives us 21st centurions, the inner yearning to shape and stitch, form and sculpt cloth? Certainly, it is not need. We have H&M and fast fashion internet for that.
When I search within to understand my passion for creating with touch, texture, and sculpting with fabrics, a whole mix of values and rewards serve at my core. There is also a lovely awareness of my cellular individuality that finds expressive satisfaction from it. Few in my family share my specific passion to sew. (What joy it has been to recognize it in all of you, my clientele these last several decades!)
From my own authenticity I go on to recognize sewing as a deeply satisfying connection to my female culture…my prairie grandmothers but also women of the ages who discovered the fibers, created the fabrics and pieced comfort and protection into every stitch as bare necessity. But then…it may only be about myself as a young teenager having a blast creating a wardrobe. Not really an addiction, but certainly a strong desire to express myself through color and cloth with a new found skill. Who knows, maybe women of the ages were simply doing the same. My search comes from a lifetime of defending my art. In my lifetime, it has gone from the common to the rare. From utility to art. For me, it’s been a joyful albeit long suffering career of keeping the art alive. Now, seeing it free to be. Our human knowing hands will continue to create. It is exciting to see new traditions unfold….quite literally.
While celebrating the harvest this week, be mindful of your tactile senses and look for your symbols of our shared art. What is in your family tree that seeks expression in cloth….with button breadcrumbs?!