deploring the lack of good rags

I didn’t grow up in a household where we patched our clothing.  We took good care of things and made a point of donating them to those in need while there was still a lot life left in the garments. It would have been selfish to have worn them out.

There were a couple of boxes of scrap fabric in the attic.  My mother was a creative person, and saved any good size bits that were left over from other projects. Scrap, for me, was short lengths of new fabric.

These are the reasons why boro patching both fascinates me and scares me a little bit. It’s a new way of thinking about fabric and garments. It demands things of me that I’ve never done.

For my project, I won’t be patching over wear and tear. I don’t have any. I will be patching thin fabric to add warmth and weight. I’m tryng to use what’s in the house, but I don’t have the boxes of scrap fabric from that long-ago attic. I don’t even have any good rags under the kitchen sink. There’s the old wash cloth I used to clean up my bicycle, and a small bit of cloth with furniture polish on it. That’s about it.

I’ve read a few accounts of people making rakusu for the Buddhist ceremony of jukai.  The rakusu is a miniature symbolic Buddha’s robe, patched together from bits of cloth.  Some use actual rags, found cloth, discarded cloth, or clothing that belonged to the dead.

Where is that kind of cloth in my life?

I could have picked up a jersey on the sidewalk this morning. But it wasn’t a piece of cloth that I could relate to. It was shiny, new and synthetic, that kind of sport jersey made with little air holes.

Doesn’t anyone lose or discard natural fabrics any more? Doesn’t anyone wear them? Where have all the good rags gone?

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