It’s outgrown, so now what?

Home Coming (AS&E #66)

I’ve finally decided to part with a winter coat I smocked for DD1 about 8 years ago.  It’s another pattern from Australian Smocking & Embroidery Issue 66. It included a little purse, which I thought was a cute touch.  The roses and leaves are made from strips of cashmere.

It was my first attempt to smock a heavier fabric by hand…. I mean actually marking the fabric and pleating it by hand, as it was too bulky to put through a pleater.  What’s a pleater?  A little hand-turned wonder that pleats the fabric for you, saving a lot of time, not to mention ensuring that the rows of pleats are precise.

But back to the coat.  It’s a beautiful coat – a little heavy – but warm and there is so much wear left in it!  Why keep it in my closet for someone 30 years down the line when I can always make another one – and would enjoy it, too?  So I handed it down to a friend who has a daughter younger than all of mine.  In a way I’m happy that it’s going to someone who will appreciate it, but on the other hand it makes me sad to part with it.  This particular friend’s mom was a seamstress, trained in Italy, so I know she appreciates the work that goes into a garment like this.  But it’s hard to part with something that has a lot of love and time put into the making of it.

Just last night DH managed to encourage me with an offhand comment about how art isn’t really worth anything until there’s someone willing to pay for it.  In his defense, I see his (time = money) point, but it still is a hurtful and sad comment.  Is what people create really so “worthless” if there isn’t a return on the investment, so to speak?

purse with roses

I know I would be very hesitant to fork over what this purse is actually worth in terms of material and labour (maybe $15?)  if I saw it in a store, but is that because I know I could make it if I really wanted to have it?  Because I’m not one of the “rich” that don’t think twice before paying ridiculous amounts of money for one-of-a-kind garments?  Or because I don’t think it’s worth it or that it will be tossed after 3 days of use?  Yet I love to spend my time to create an item like this!  It’s enjoyable, I’m pleased with the tangible result of what I spent my time on, and it most definitely gives me a creative outlet…. a place to wind down and relax while I do something that I love!


6 thoughts on “It’s outgrown, so now what?

  1. Tia, I always find something so interesting on your site and in your work. I happened to see this post below and clicked on it and saw your amazing smocking and the adorable purse. I also enjoyed your argument. I obviously think that what we do has enormous value, even though there is no price tag attached.

  2. What a stunning coat! Any little girl would feel like a princess in that. What a shame that it is now outgrown, nice to have someone to pass it onto, though. Just beautiful.

  3. I have lurked on your blog for a while now and your husband’s remark brought me out of hiding. The value you create with your beautiful work (the smocking!) cannot be appraised in terms of today’s money. Your work is heirloom-worthy — and would probably achieve true value only in time as fewer and fewer people attain and employ the skill so apparent in your efforts. I sense you’re not really discouraged away from your art — and more power to you!

  4. That’s a beautiful coat!—I wouldn’t even have thought to apply smocking to a coating fabric.

    Some of our more precious hand-me-downs have come with a “please give it back to us when it’s outgrown” clause—I certainly don’t think that’s unreasonable in a case like this.

    As for your husband’s comment, well, if a coat like this were on sale in a designer children’s wear shop, the value would be, I imagine, in the $200-$300 range.

    Of course, by his logic no unpaid work (like, oh, raising children or cooking dinner) is valuable. Which is patently rubbish.

  5. That coat and purse is adorable. I hope you get to see it being worn by your friends daughter. It always gives me a thrill to see Felicity’s “hand-me-down” clothes on her younger cousins.
    I don’t agree with your DH’s comment. Art can’t be valued simply by $ or the time that went into creating it. People are prepared to pay a lot for objects for reasons that are nothing to do with craftsmanship or art, and vice versa. I understand you saying that you wouldn’t pay more than $15 for that purse, but I am sure there would be a lot of people that would! I think it is hard for us seamstresses to value our own work appropriately.


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