“Look everybody, every stitch is perfect. Never again will we have to make our clothes by hand.” So exclaimed poor Moitel the tailor in Fiddler on the Roof upon finishing the first garment from his new sewing machine–the small Ukranian village had never seen such a modern contraption.
Moitel was happy because he could be more productive and earn more money, but unbenounced to him was the fact that this machine was the symbolic beginning of mass production–a trajectory which would eventually lead to sweatshops, child labor and the wide availability of affordable, low quality garments.
The stitches from Moitel’s machine were indeed more perfect and sturdier than those by hand. But something of the art and sublety of the handiwork was lost, the complexity of design, the invisibility of outside stitches; and still there remains some things which cannot be duplicated by machines such as hems and inside collars which require the one-side stitching only able to be done by hand.
Perhaps in all the world nothing has come closer to the perfection of the machine stitch than the work of pre-WWII Japanese seamstresses. You can see it in our Kimonos at the Hauser gallery. It is actually as much what you do not see as what you do see which inspires awe, for as one takes apart and examines the material, it’s like viewing a puzzle from the inside out. Read article, A Stitch in Time, by Rose Estes on p.11.
At the Hauser Gallery we are in the process of of re-purposing some of the Japanese silk fabric from a wide variety of beautiful vintage Kimonos. As our dextrous seamstresses take the material apart we are awed at the brilliant handiwork that created and executed such designs.
From generation to generation the pendulum swings back and forth between an appreciation of the old and a desire for the new. Sometimes it is a matter of perspective.
Moitel the Tailor’s village will never be the same. Machines have taken over the brunt of the world’s work. At the Hauser Gallery we are proud to own such a special display of hand made vintage Japanese Komonos and silk fabrics, and to be repurposing them into something new which has the hand wrought work and brilliance of the old.