Tuesday, November 18, 2014

art? clothing? art?

The coffee shop in my neighborhood has a farmhouse theme. The baristas wear black aprons with appliqué designs on the front bib. They are bright print fabrics cut into farmhouse icons and sewn on using raw-edge appliqué, so they look worn in and homey after numerous washings. I enjoy their cheery variety. And, yes, they make me want to make aprons with tiny appliquéd designs of my own on the bibs.

I'm trying to restrain myself from going down that path. It's a slippery slope that I just don't want to start down. One apron decorated with a tiny appliqué design probably isn't going to hurt anything, but it crosses a line that I struggle with. Clothing is essentially to keep us warm and protected against the elements. An apron is worn simply to protect our regular clothes from kitchen mess. It does not need an appliqué design on the bib to do its job. 

Clothing is also our complicated way of expressing our status and culture. I'm pretty sure it wasn't long after we started tying furs around us that someone started decorating their furs with shells or bones. In many cultures, embroidery on a blouse or stripes on a sleeve, delineated one's station in life or where one lived. Decoration was an integral part of clothing's function, and still is, only now logos play the part of the embroidery. 

In the 20th century, there arose a group of artists who moved beyond clothing decoration into "art clothing", also called "wearable art". Quilters went crazy. A quilted vest was a great way to use up even more scraps, or buy more new fabric, and clothing took less time to make than a bed quilt. Let's make one for every day of the week!

Quilted clothing has been around for a long time, keeping peasants and gentry alike warm in the winter, but generally this clothing used the same fabric as summer weather clothes, just with warm padding. The quilted clothing produced in the last few decades grew from the popular resurgence in general quilt-making, both pieced and appliquéd.  And it was really ugly. (this writer's humble opinion, having made a few vests in the 80's)

This is the slippery slope that FLTQ is not going down. Clothing is not going to be decorated with appliqué designs in this studio. I'm taking a stance to keep myself from even thinking about it. No aprons. No curly borders on skirts. No backs of jackets. No looking like a clown.

At the other end of the spectrum, FL, herself, may be heading down this path. 

At first glance, I love this, but wait... who would walk around wearing it? Seriously!