Selvedge Issue 83 : Cotton

Frequency Bi-Monthly
Publisher Names by Selvedge
Selvedge Issue 83 Cotton

Issue 83 Cotton: Stay Cool in Cotton 

"In the summer of 1948, the Empire Windrush docked in Kingston, Jamaica, in order to pick up servicemen on leave. The ship was far from  full, and so an opportunistic advertisement was placed in a Jamaican newspaper offering inexpensive transport for anybody who wanted to come and work in the UK to help rebuild the country after WW2. This journey had been made many times before by ships carrying cotton.

The making of textiles is time consuming, with the preparation of fibre being the most labour-intensive process. The desire to speed it up has preoccupied the industrial world for the last 200 years and it is with cotton fibre that there has been the greatest success. 60% of all clothing is now made of cotton. While it is natural, and biodegradable, cotton’s negative environmental impacts result from the use of pesticides and the consumption of water used to accellerate production. After spending the last two centuries producing more and more cotton, the biggest issue facing the textile industry today is how to dispose of the excess. There is much in the news on the environmental impact of plastic, but textile waste is as big a problem, with the average garment being worn just three times. What can the individual do?

We have inspiring answers in this issue, from a story about the oldest patchwork coverlet, on display at The Fesival of Quilts, to the Dutch Nationale Feestrok as well as Jessica Ogden’s Caribbean practice. Patchwork is a great way to extend the life of textiles, as is buying less but buying better: a philosphy adhered to by Adele Stafford and her Voices of Industry project. She sources organic cotton in her field-to-fibre initiative; similarly Jessica Green in her Appalachian homestead utilises home-grown fibre to grant continuity to the American coverlet tradition. These pieces will be treasured for generations rather than finding their way into landfill. We look too at the significance of textiles in the life of Frida Kahlo, whose clothing and personal effects will be exhibited at London’s V&A Museum this summer. We look at her life, her house and take a tour of the country she called home." 

Polly Leonard, Founder, Selvedge Magazine

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Our Story

Selvedge is a magazine that acknowledges the significance of textiles as a part of everyone’s story.  We are surrounded by cloth from the cradle to the grave and by exploring our universal emotional connection to fibre we share the stories and values that mean the most to us. From why we love the sound of a needle pulling thread through taut linen, to why we are fascinated by the clothes we wear and the fibres we unknowingly rely on. There are many sides to every story and Selvedge is dedicated to finding and nurturing textiles from every angle. We believe that textiles unite all humanity and in surveying the development of society it is clear that from a spider’s web to the world-wide web, textiles appear as the protagonist.

It is with this thought that we hope to widen our net as well as our own horizons with everything we do. Join us and make our stories part of your story.


The Magazine

At the heart of the Selvedge story is a cerebral and sensual addiction to cloth and with that an appreciation of the beautifully made and carefully considered.  Having been drawn to textiles since childhood, Polly Leonard studied embroidery and weaving and taught textiles for ten years.  Frustrated at the lack of infrastructure to support talented artisans and the wider community of enthusiasts, Polly took a leap of faith in April 2004 and created the magazine she wanted to read – Selvedge. Today Selvedge is still exploring and understanding the history, future, politics and aesthetics of textiles with its own distinct voice.

Since its launch Selvedge has become much more than a magazine. As well as a valuable source of inspiration  for designers and devotees alike, the Selvedge brand has flourished not only into a spring board for makers and artisans but a strong community of textile lovers, with workshops and fairs.

As a publication we broaden our own horizons and fall more in love with textiles with every issue. Because we believe that the most interesting and evocative textile stories deserve to be shown in the best possible light, we work to ensure that every page is as carefully considered and beautiful as the textile stories within it.