Friday, November 6, 2015

The Vanishing Art Of Dress-Making (part 2 of 2)
The art and the craft

Even then, the craft of tailoring was slow to come by. Everything then was done by hand -- thread-making, weaving, and sewing. The techniques discovered and developed painstakingly over hundreds of years were handed down from generation to generation.

Alongside these, almost every housewife had a dress-making box at home. This box contained pins and needles, scissors, threads, and a tape measure. These were the tools mothers used in simple clothes-making and repairing techniques, as well as using them in teaching their little girls sewing lessons learned from their own mothers.

When the Industrial Revolution flourished in Europe, the textile industry was the first to be mechanized. This freed the people from the tedious job of making threads and fabrics which in turn are sewn into clothes.

Mass production

This was the beginning of the decline in the art of making clothes. These were the days when dress-makers become famous and people want to wear their creations. To make more of these clothes, more assistants and seamstresses were hired. Later, there were armies of their garment workers all over the world.

Nowadays, a piece of clothing is considered a ‘consumable item’ -- sold and bought over the counter no different from a can of soda or a bag of potato chips.  This is because mass-produced clothes are less expensive now than the labor to make it.

There maybe a handful of traditional tailors lurking around. But they are getting harder and harder to find. They are, sad to say, a dying breed.

Another group of old-fashioned dress-makers are found in countries where strict traditions still dictate the make and form of their clothes.  Sadly, their days may be numbered. In a fiercely traditional nation as Tonga, one sometimes sees men wearing modern T-shirts together with their traditional Tongan wrap-around skirt called tupeno.

It is a strange mix, but today's Tongan men probably think they look better in it than before.

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