Thursday, 15 January 2015

Day 14 - Sew and sew.........

The other day I posted a vintage photo on my Tower House Dolls Facebook page, which got a great response, going by the number of people it reached.

The ability to sew (and knit) was commonplace when I was growing up.  A completely unremarkable skill.  But I'm constantly surprised at the number of people these days, who are happy to admit that they've never, ever used a needle.

Rarely a day goes by when I don't sew.  Using a needle and thread feels as normal to me as using paper and pen.

Although that's probably not a good analogy, as pen users are possibly as rare as hand-sewers these days.

Back in the day, when I was at primary school, we did sewing every week.  I still remember my very first school sewing project..... a simple needlework sampler, which I still have.

One of my most prized possessions as a child was a little toy sewing machine which really worked so I made clothes for my dolls and soft furnishings for my doll's house.

As a teenager I started making my own clothes, using my grandmother's old hand cranked Singer sewing machine and when my children were little I knitted and sewed for them too.

I regularly use my sewing machine, for making full-size curtains, cushions and other soft furnishings but workwise, since I've moved down a scale from 1/12th to 1/24th, for tiny doll's dressmaking I have no option but to hand sew.  

Normal sized sewing needles would make overly large holes in my delicate silks, looking unsightly and leading to unstable seams, so I use very small, very fine needles (size 12 betweens) which are a challenge to thread, and even more of a challenge to find if they're dropped on the floor.  I even use an especially fine thread.

My deluxe Jumeau-style toy dolls measure a smidgen under 1  3/4" tall, so their bustled jackets are tiny.  They have six separate pattern pieces which must be painstakingly hand sewn.... the seam allowance is 1/16" and the stitches themselves must be practically microscopic.

Perhaps surprisingly, I find this exacting micro-sewing relaxing, although most 'normal' people express horror at even attempting such small costumes.  

Nevertheless, it's some comfort to know that years ago I would have been in good company, as evidenced by these wonderful vintage images of girls and young women across the decades learning to sew. 


debbie's mini thoughts and creations said...

I think it is very sad that in schools today, the very basics are not taught,like you I remember sewing and cooking,

DollMum said...

Weekly sewing and knitting in school was the norm for me too and I wish it was so for my children. They did some projects without actually teaching them how to sew (trying to run before they can walk) which means their work was not of the standard that I would have been expected to produce at the same age. Therefore I'm teaching them sewing and knitting instead.

Neen said...

I wonder if any of your photos are of the Barrett Street School that taught sewing to women until it was merged with the London College of Fashion? My mother went there, which was not a surprise since my grandfather and his brothers were all tailors. Based on my mother, my grandfather, an uncle who was a clothes designer for Harrod's and a grandmother who sewed all her own clothes, it should come as no surprise that I started sewing before I could read. Alas, I don't sew these days, which is a shame since I detest most clothes I see in stores. Perhaps you have inspired me to dust off the machine and start again.

Sandra Morris said...

There are so many basic skills which should be taught in schools but aren't. What's the use of being able to do quadratic equations if you can't balance a bank statement?
I think that there should be a compulsory life skills course, which covers personal finance, basic DIY, cookery, sewing, parenting.... there are probably loads of others. No exams, just practical exercises to help equip our young people for the rigours of real life.

Debbie said...

We did Needlework in our School, so did the Boys. We also had Wood work, Metal Work, Cooking and Pottery.