Recently I was given a gift of two bags and box containing fabric from a friend of our family, Will. The fabric had belonged to four women: Will’s mum, her two sisters and their mum.
The fabric had been sitting in a caravan for years, untouched by mice or moths, and Will’s mum was having a clean out. His dad wanted to use it for rags but since Will knew I sewed he thought I might be able to use it.
The fabric is a time capsule from the 1960’s. Most of it is from the late 1950’s and 1960’s with nothing later than 1973. Most of it had belonged to one of the aunties, a prolific sewer.
Will took a trip down memory lane as we stood in the kitchen and unpacked every piece of fabric. Similar trips down memory lane were had by older women visitors to our house who looked at it.
There are plains and prints, pastels, brights and bold colours. There’s plenty of indestructible nylon, a small collection of gingham, a small amount of furnishing fabric and LOTS of prints (more than 50 different ones) including some absolutely outrageous printed fabrics so typical of the 1960’s. Interestingly, not a single piece is black, and there’s no denim.
As many women did in that time, these women sewed everything – curtains, tablecloths, dressing gowns, and lots of dresses and blouses. Some bits of fabric are large offcuts from sewing projects and others are new lengths that were never used.
A few of the pieces are unpicked or cut off clothes with enough fabric to cut another garment out of. There’s a shopping bag-sized collection of cotton “small pieces”, approximately fat quarter size, in plains and prints.
The amount of fabric fills about three garbage bags. It sat on my bedroom floor for a month while I thought about what to do with it (apart from cut it up and sew! sew! sew!). As a collection it’s a very personal catalogue of what four Australian country women were wearing in that era. I decided to photograph every piece. You can see them all on this Pinterest page. After that I selected some to keep and passed the rest onto another sewing friend.
Please enjoy a sample of the Time Capsule from the 1960’s…
Sorry you didn’t get any rags, Will’s dad, but all that nylon wouldn’t have worked.