Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is Sewing A Lost Art?

Some thoughts on sewing, and some links introduced by the Editor of The Pleasant Times.
Antique Dress in the Fort Dalles Museum

The Needle

"The gay belles of fashion may boast of excelling

In waltz or cotillion, at whist or quadrille;

And seek admiration by vauntingly telling

Of drawing, and painting, and musical skill;

But give me the fair one, in country or city,

Whose home and its duties are dear to her heart,

Who cheerfully warbles some rustical ditty,

While plying the needle with exquisite art:

The bright little needle-- the swift-flying needle,

The needle directed by beauty and art.

(In Love by Marcus Stone, from Eras of Elegance,)
Be wise, then, ye maidens, nor seek admiration

By dressing for conquest, and flirting with all;

You never, whate'er be your fortune or station,

Appear half so lovely at rout or at ball,

As gayly convened at a work-covered table,

Each cheerfully active and playing her part,

Beguiling the task with a song or a fable,

And plying the needle with exquisite art:

The bright little needle-- the swift-flying needle,

The needle directed by beauty and art."

-Samuel Woodworth, 1784-1842

Is Sewing a lost art? Perhaps some may say it is at least a dying art, but this Editor thinks that ladies are still interested in making their own clothing, home decor, and gifts, and that sewing may be more popular than it was a generation ago.

The employee at the cutting counter in the fabric department of Wal-Mart told me that she gets many requests from people asking her to teach them to sew. It seems to me (or is it seams to me?) that if sewing was a lost art, that the fabric counter lines would be shorter at Jo-Ann's, the pattern-book table less crowded during a sale, and that those expensive quilt shops in small towns would have gone out of business long ago.

Perhaps there is a conspiracy going on, though- it does seem harder to find decent fabric at a decent price, and the Wal-Mart phasing out their sewing section and rumors of fabric store closures make me wonder. Maybe they don't want us to sew. Maybe the people in power that own all the stores have made a deal with the fashion designers so that we have to wear their off the rack monstrosities, as there will be no other choice! Of course, in that case, the resourceful seamstress knows how to use sheets and curtains for her yardage. Let us hope, however, that it will not come to that (by the way, here is a handy chart if you find a great sheet sale).

Of course, Sewing will be a lost art if we do not pass the needle to the next generation- and I think that it is a great favor that someone will take time out to teach a little girl (or an adult) to sew!

Sewing Circle

My mother has taken on a sewing student, holds weekly lessons for her and is teaching her basic hand sewing. Mother's little student has made a skirt for herself and her doll, a hemmed cloth to go under a tea set, and a simple bag. She uses gingham fabric to make the projects simple- a built in grid helps when you are learning to cut and sew an even seam. The light weight of the fabric helps, too.

I would like to introduce my readers to the links on the left, which I have updated to include a sewing section. These are websites and blogs that are either all about sewing, have a bit of sewing in them, or else are places that I go for inspiration. They are just a small sampling of the sewing sites and blogs on the web. I hope the ambitions of others will inspire my readers to keep their sewing machines out!

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