Tuesday, June 28, 2011

More Deaccessioning

The cat and I have been spending some time in the guest bedroom going through things to get rid of before we move.  Currently it's sewing patterns.

I learned to sew mostly on my own and later working in the costume department of a living history museum, like Plimouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg on a small scale.  (It was an 1840-1890 midwest town and I also worked as an interpreter, so I was the young lady school teacher.  Also a lady blacksmith.  Also a male soldier. Basically it was the best high school job ever.)

The costume department made our own clothes and the clothes for the rest of the staff and the volunteers, and the museum either couldn't afford bulk licencing from pattern companies or couldn't find patterns correct to the costuming director's standards.  The more experienced folks drafted patterns from their own research, original clothes in our or other museums' collections, or modified slopers.  That was probably the most long-lasting benefit I got from that job--I stopped working there after my second year of college, after four years working there, and never worked up the skill/nerve to draft anything more complicated than a lined jacket, but it definitely gave me the confidence to try later in college and grad school.  (Not trying to brag, but re-reading that, I can't believe I drafted my own lined jacket at 17.  Working with ladies who whipped out whalebone corsets and full hoopskirt dresses and Victorian jackets sans patterns definitely put things in a different perspective at the time!)  I also did some volunteer reenacting in the 17th and 18th centuries and sold clothing to people for several years, so I have a lot of other self-drafted and commercial patterns from that as well.  I kept almost all of the patterns, slopers, and muslins which fit me, and since I haven't done any more reenacting in grad school, they've just sat in a box for the last three years.

I've sorted things to get rid of and keep, getting rid of things that either just wouldn't fit me now or which I could easily redraft.  Do I need a 17th century cap pattern or an 18th century corset pattern in the near-term future?  Probably not.  Will J and I get back into reenacting some time period once he's working a job which doesn't require 80 work weeks in the summer?  Definitely.  In the mean time, what I kept now takes up four manila envelopes in the file cabinet instead of a whole box, so that feels better.

I felt sort of sad going through everything, because those patterns represent a learning experience I didn't really appreciate at the time and cutting ties with an activity and subculture that had and has a lot of meaning for me, which I don't have time to participate in any more.  But deciding to get rid of patterns which I could easily redraft also felt pretty good:  I hung onto them when I moved because I wasn't confident of being able to recreate the clothing which I had given away or sold when I moved to Overcast.  I've grown a lot in my sewing, and if I did it once I can do it again.


  1. I love throwing things away. I also hate throwing things away.

  2. Oh dear, it does seem a pity to be getting rid of all your history...

  3. The only thing I like about the new skype interface is that it's easy to do teleconfrences. I am looking forward to transatlantic book club. I can't believe we're all about to be scattered to the 4 winds. xox from the Olde Country

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