Usually my “fabric world” consists of following what my favorite new designers are creating and buying my favorite prints and colors to incorporate into my own quilt. To me, fabric is full of possibility– in fact, I’ve noticed that when I get really busy and don’t have time to sew, I tend to want to buy more fabric, because I feel like I’m buying the possibility of having time to sew. Fabric can be an escape– when I want a break from life, I daydream about what I’ll make with my favorite prints of my hoarded stash. I often think about this right before I fall asleep.
I’ve come to realize that fabric represent more than its face value, and this point was driven home for me when I came across the Threads of Feeling online exhibit at the Foundling Museum in London. I came across this website because I heard it mentioned on a podcast I regularly listen to, and after viewing it, it stuck with me for quite a while. I thought those of you who read my blog would also be interested in different fabric histories, so I thought I’d share.
The basic story behind this exhibit and the fabric it displays is that in the mid-18th century when women who were unable to keep their children would give them up for adoption, they would often drop them off at the Foundling hospital. The women were instructed to leave a means of identifying the child pinned to their clothing, so often the women would choose a distinct piece of fabric or ribbon and would leave a piece with the baby and keep a piece to prove the baby was hers should the circumstances change and she were able to return for the baby. There are a number of resources on the web with more information, and I would recommend this article from the Guardian.
If you take a moment to check it out, I’d love to know what you think. I was really moved by the photos and notes, and it definitely gave me a new perspective on the many meanings fabric can hold.