Monday, March 14, 2011

My Guidelines for Altering Vintage

 I meant to get back to this topic last week, but I wanted to give it the proper attention, which was not possible as I was running around like crazy last week. This week will be busy too, but I feel like my head is on a little straighter. 
I really appreciated the comments left on the post about whether or not to alter vintage.  It is wonderful to engage with such wise and thoughtful readers.  This issue has long been a debate in my mind and a source of tension for me when I see altered vintage items.  It seemed that the general sentiment among responders was not to alter vintage unless it was unusable or irreparable.  After pondering it for a bit, I compiled a little list of personal guidelines in regards to the treatment of vintage things:

1. Always try to restore an item to working/wearable/usable condition first.

2. Think outside myself...who will own this next and would they appreciate the alterations made?

3. If it is VERY old (this one's a little gray, I'll say 40's or earlier) or rare consider not altering it at all, it may have more lasting value in it's original state. Common damaged items are less of a concern.

4. If it is damaged beyond repair and I have a great idea to reuse it, how much waste will there be?  Will I be able to use all the parts?  If there will be more than 25% waste, I will forgo the project.

5. Can the item be returned to it's original state after a new use?  For example, the watch necklaces I sell can be taken off the chain and put onto a watch band again.  Plus, I buy them without the bands, so there is no waste.

6. When it comes to a newer item, say a t-shirt from Target , deconstruct and reconstruct away! Maybe this is hypocritical, but since this item is really common, it doesn't have a lot of vintage value and therefore probably is more valuable if worn in a new way.

7. If I am going to alter something, I do it in a high quality way, so when I pass it on to the next owner, it will be appreciated.  Consider having a professional seamstress alter your clothing if you aren't adept at sewing.  Often clothing can be taken in for size without altering the garment permanently, that way it is more versatile for the next possible owner.

Like I said these are guidelines, not rules to live by, but I think the point is that we need to think about this topic when deciding what to do with our vintage things.  So, when it comes to my shop or personal life, I will probably reconstruct things that are damaged beyond repair and/or do not have a lot of vintage value.  I think an 80's shirt with a hole in it is free game!


cindy-the vintage hat shop said...

Beth- Wow, you have really spent a lot of time thinking this through! A great list, you covered it all.
Love the sewing machine,too.

SassySisterVintage said...

Wow. I must say that I shorten a lot of my early 70s maxi dresses and they sell a lot faster than if I left them long. They are professionally shortened by my mom who's a fabulous seamstress. I totally respect your viewpoint on this though. ;-)

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