Letter Re: Cottage/Local Manufacturing After SHTF

I am a former dressmaker, with considerable experience in making clothing, and I appreciated the article on doing this for barter.

However, there are problems. The first is fabric. Presumably the sensuously idyllic pleasures of going to the fabric shops in the garment district of New York City will no longer be an option. Too charred.

Apart from that, while there are a few scattered fabric stores here and there, they are steadily going out of business, as fewer and fewer people sew. For the most part, assuming you can get there and assuming they are intact, they carry mostly low quality, trashy fabric that will not endure the conditions of TEOTWAWKI, barring a bit of denim and some quilting cottons. Real wool? Forget it.

However, the biggest problem is that in most scenarios, there will be a major loss of population. One result will be massive supplies of millions of items of no-longer needed clothing, as well as many other household items.

Once these run out, yes, homemade barter items will be an excellent idea.

I say this unhappily, as making clothes is a skill set that I would have to offer a community. Perhaps mending and alterations will do.

If you really want to do this, I would advise beginning to collect durable fabrics now: sturdy denims, warm woolens, and firmly woven cottons for warm weather. Ebay has a pretty good selection. If you look patiently, you will be able to find fabric in bulk at good prices. Sturdy cotton sheets are also a fabric source; get them on sale.

The idea of buying strong card stock for patterns is excellent. When I worked for a couturier designer in Manhattan, that is what was used for durable patterns. It has to be both sturdy and not damaged by heat (in case you need to iron out creases).

Based on Ferfal’s writings about what happened during the collapse in Argentina, you may also want to buy some laces, silks, and other luxury fabrics. He said people soon became desperate for small, affordable luxuries to offset the stress of constant deprivation.

Also, you may want to collect a few wedding dresses, preferably with lace-up backs to accommodate various sizes. When artificial birth control is no longer available, sexual mores will change very quickly. Under primitive conditions, single mothers and their babies have a lousy life expectancy. I saw it once and will never get it out of my mind.

Even during TEOTWAWKI, girls will still want to look beautiful when they get married. – JW from NY