The smallest of stitches, the most important of lessons

Tamara Buckley Leclerc 6/9/2020

I admit, I am a clothing fanatic however, it is not of today’s clothing, but those of yesterdays. Small stitches of polished cotton, raw linen, decorative intricate stitches made by dim candlelight, stitches to repair a worn garment, or let out as a child grows. Hands that held the same fabric I now hold some 200 years old… these perfect small stitches tell a story I am delighted to be able to try to read and hopefully interpret for the Townsend Historical Society.

The collection of the Townsend Historical Society and the Reed family is, to say the least, stunning. There are so many valuable items in amazing condition. From day dresses to children’s garments, men’s work clothing to boys play clothing, handwoven to machine woven. History talks to you through these items. Little details from hand sewn to the advent of the sewing machine, handspun to machine-made, homemade to storebought are all part of the story. Most important, you can hear if you listen.

These pieces represent a way of life that with the passage of time, we are no longer close to. Clothes made by hand from cutting to sewing, no purchased pattern. Clothing made out of necessity, love, and simply, what you had available. Technology, modern industry, and globalization have changed society’s attitude of clothing from a needed item to a statement piece. With easy access at our fingertips, we don’t have to dress for the purpose of a piece lasting and being handed down to a new generation.

Women (thankfully) don’t have to cinch into s-bend corsets, men into overly starched collars and garters. Petticoats no longer have to be layered to protect one from the cold. The garments we will investigate reflect these time periods, along with many others more modern. Join us as we examine, photograph, admire and interpret the over 200-year-old collection of the Reed Homestead and donations. You too will begin to appreciate and marvel at the small stitches and the hands that oh-so-long-ago made them by candlelight (and like me, become a self-proclaimed old clothing fanatic).

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