While perusing Fiberarts magazine yesterday, a piece about and by artist Jon Coffelt caught my eye. Coffelt makes small clothes out of cast-off, regular-sized clothing. He makes them for a variety of reasons: his first piece was made when his partner got an ink stain on the pocket of a favorite shirt and he wanted to preserve it for him. He cut the pieces down, re-stitched them by hand, and presented his partner with the small shirt. It was the first of more than 350 pieces of small clothing Coffelt has since constructed. His intention is to reproduce the design and stitching details of the original pieces.
There is something so moving about this work. For many of us, fabric memories run deep. I can still find a scrap of a dress my mother sewed for me (or I for my daughers or even for myself—my 8th grade shift sewn of blue kettlecloth) and it evokes such strong feelings. The details—pintucks, French cuffs, ruffled hems—are often part of those memories as well. Coffelt worked as a clothing designer, so he’s especially attuned to the nuances of clothing construction. His small clothing pieces serve many functions: to honor a loved one, to assuage grief, to store a memory. In Fiberarts he shares the process and story of recreating a blouse that belonged to a beloved grandmother. Click on his website to see a group of these pieces.
I tried to contact Coffelt to ask permission to use the image from his site but the e-mail bounced back. (The photo above is from the Fiberarts site and photo credit goes to Shawn Boley.)