In the process of producing garments, numerous scraps of fabric end up on the studio floor. These scraps are often seen as worthless and discarded. Irregular and seemingly unimportant, these offcuts are beautiful in their own right. 

In this exhibit, scraps have been given new life as they are transformed from scratch into a new garment. The piece represents those who must create a new life from scratch after being forced to leave their homeland and settle in a new land; sometimes waiting for years in confinement before departing. Others have lived on the land for generations and have been forced to leave, ending up surrounded and contained by fences. The barbed wire motif and chain stitching symbolize the obstacles, physical and emotional, they must overcome. The shimmering lining represents the unique and resilient spirit within each individual.

-- Kathleen O'Grady


Techniques: appliqué, screen print, hand embroidery. 100% linen with silk taffeta lining. 


My submission entitled "Perseverance" was accepted by the Saskatchewan Craft Council for the exhibition entitled, From Scratch, showing from August 3 to November 6. The invitation for submission was presented as such: "To make something ‘from scratch’ is a phrase from the mid-1800’s (England). Originally referring to the line scratched in the ground from where competitors began a race, this phrase has come to describe a certain way of making."

Back detail of the coat. 

My submission, took shape over the months leading up to and including the advent of COVID-19. Inspired by the familiar surroundings of my design studio, the scraps of fabric “spoke” to me. In addition to giving the scraps new life, the design evolved to include the idea of migrants but also the plight of First Nations people being forced to leave their land and the adversity experienced before, during and after as well as sustained hardship for generations.

Front image of the coat. 

 
Back detail of the coat. 


The photos below show some of the process and steps that went into the making of the piece. 

Linen scraps from the cutting room studio are taped onto craft paper and screenprinted. 


Drying the screenprinted linen pieces. 

A front panel of the coat. 

Removing the taped down linen scraps that I screen printed. 

Raw and ragged edges make for lots of texture. 

Learning to embroider was a challenge as I hadn't done any for about 40 years. In between YouTube tutorials and my new book (see above) I had to re-learn. I wanted to use a chain stitch that I felt further represented the plight of the immigrant. 

A good pair of scissors is needed and an embroidery hoop for relearning the stitches.
 
Here is my start at re-learning and practicing embroidery stitches, namely the chain stitch that I decided to use on the coat.  

A close-up of more detail. Embroidered chain stitch was added both for additional texture but also to further convey the plight of the traveller. 

Chain stitch wanders its' way over the coat. 

Back detail of things coming together. 

The Lining: 

The lining is made of 100% silk taffeta and gives a sense of hope for the traveler to carry on.

Inside showing the lining and snap closure. 

One of my favourite details of a special "pod" detail with machine appliqué. 

The lining, of 100% silk taffeta was pre-washed to make it more functional and have the wearer feel at ease. Oftentimes if a person thinks of wearing silk they may feel they don't want to 'get it dirty', but I have intentionally distressed it by laundering it. It retains its lustre and strength.

Here, the lapels of the coat are folded back to show the silk lining. I wanted to juxtapose the seriousness of the outer layer with a message of hope. 


 

Comments

Judith K. Hindle

Judith K. Hindle said:

A very thoughtful and creative design and artful process. The soft, light silk lining is indeed an effective counterpoint to the prickly wire effects in the outer layer of the coat while the ‘pods’ suggest hidden, secretive elements of a journey known to the wearer alone. Congratulations on creation of wearable art reflecting migrant travels towards hope and light.

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