An Archive of Stitches: The Living Histories, Geographies, and Biographies of our Clothes
Organisers: Dr Rebecca Collins and Prof Deborah Wynne
(both at the University of Chester)
Holly Kirby, Assistant Curator at the National Trust's Attingham Park, talking about the sustainable ways of caring for the costume collection.
This event, part of the Being Human Festival, the UK's annual Festival of the Humanities, took place in Chester's Forum Shopping Centre on Saturday 19th November. Holly Kirby, an assistant curator with the National Trust, was dressed in a wonderful Regency-style outfit she had made herself. In the morning, she delivered a thought-provoking and informative talk about caring in sustainable ways for the historic costume collection at Attingham Park in Shropshire. Holly explained how the natural laundering techniques of the past continued to be employed, as they were less harsh on delicate fabrics than modern commercial laundry products. Holly also described how garments were repaired and stored, not only by museum staff today, but by the family and servants at Attingham Park in the past. Clothes were once treasured and preserved, a far cry from the cheap, mass-produced clothing culture today. Holly's talk was followed by a general discussion, where participants shared their own approaches to sustainable clothing, some people bringing in garments they had made themselves and had repaired and preserved.
In the afternoon, Dr Rebecca Collins, of the Pop-Up Patch and Repair Challenge Team, set up a repair workshop where participants were shown how to do simple garment repairs. It was a very informative day, as so many stories of garments were shared, making it clear that every item of clothing has its own biography.