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The thing with vintage and pre-loved textiles is they have a history. Some hide their story, deep within the weave and structure of the fabric. Others wear it firmly on their sleeves, sometimes literally!

That small, blue/black mark on the front of a summer dress, a small reminder of a sunny day picking blackberries with the kids, though they eat more than they brought home! The faded and thinning elbows on a jacket someones favourite. The colour, perfect to make them feel cheerier on the dullest of days and with a soft comfort that comes from the number of times it’s been washed! A small tear from the combination of belligerent washing machine and too much of a hurry.

dressmaking

And, to me, the best of all, a vintage piece with tiny even hand stitched seams, almost un-noticed details of buttons, trimmings and cut. Maybe even a small repair, completed in a time gone by when every possession was valued. When it was worth while to mend and repair, when even the act of repair was valued. For me, noticing these things puts me in direct touch with the past owner. A spiral of finger print on the inside of a handmade pot allows me to visualize the potter working at his craft. Personally leaving part of himself in every creation. Every hand made stitch, has me sat next to my grandmother or great-grandmother, watching every pass of the needle. Watching, remembering and learning, not just a skill but an experience, a tradition, a way of life. A world full of stability, rhythm and safety.

Here in Is-was Cottage we repair, we mend, we adapt and we use to make into something else. Things more suited to a 21st century life. Providing another future for the items we change.

We do this because, unlike most, I was brought up this way. Putting a value on the amount of skill needed to sew, darn, knit, paint, work with wood, grow food, preserve, my list could continue on till you are long since bored. Putting a value on the stuff you need to make something. I have held these values all my life, held onto them tight because I hold them to be important.

repair

And this is where and why Is-was Cottage the business was born. Because children no longer sit with their parents or grandparents watching and learning. Schools no longer teach crafts. And I don’t want to be in a situation where all these skills are needed (and there will be a time) and there is no one who knows how anymore.

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