Image: Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Models At A Beach, 1959, Conde Nast
Today we look back at an archive issue of Selvedge from summer 2018, Issue 83 Cotton, with a reminder that all back issues are currently available with a 50% discount, by entering the code STAYATHOME at checkout. This code will be active for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
The making of textiles is time consuming, with the preparation of fibre being the most labour-intensive process. The desire to speed it up has preoccupied the industrial world for the last 200 years and it is with cotton fibre that there has been the greatest success. 60% of all clothing is now made of cotton. While it is natural, and biodegradable, cotton’s negative environmental impacts result from the use of pesticides and the consumption of water used to accelerate production.
After spending the last two centuries producing more and more cotton, the biggest issue facing the textile industry today is how to dispose of the excess. There is much in the news on the environmental impact of plastic, but textile waste is as big a problem, with the average garment being worn just three times. What can the individual do?
Image: The 1718 Silk Patchwork Coverlet, 169cm x 185cm, containing 182 mosaic patchwork blocks made from silks with a linen backing (c) The Quilter's Guild of the British Isles.
We have inspiring answers in this issue, from a story about the oldest patchwork coverlet, on display at The Festival of Quilts, to the Dutch Nationale Feestrok as well as Jessica Ogden’s Caribbean practice. Patchwork is a great way to extend the life of textiles, as is buying less but buying better: a philosophy adhered to by Adele Stafford and her Voices of Industry project. She sources organic cotton in her field-to-fibre initiative; similarly Jessica Green in her Appalachian homestead utilises home-grown fibre to grant continuity to the American coverlet tradition. These pieces will be treasured for generations rather than finding their way into landfill. We look too at the significance of textiles in the life of Frida Kahlo, whose clothing and personal effects will be exhibited at London’s V&A Museum this summer. We look at her life, her house and take a tour of the country she called home.
Image: Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s Private Universe, Alamy Images.
Buy Issue 83 Cotton with a 50% discount using the code STAYATHOME during checkout.