Perhaps not the most popular topic for the current sewers and dressmakers, but I have always found it very therapeutic. As I little girl I used to hem hankies [we were always expected to have one with us – if you were posh, two, one to use and one to keep clean – I had one, if I could find it]. Paper hankies were for the future and some teachers had a fascination with seeing how clean our hankies were. Today they would be told to get out more. But the point of this ramble was that although in sewing class I was the bane of Miss Poplett’s life and the frequent recipient of her thimble on the back of my hand, at home I could lose myself in trying to make my stitches as near invisible as possible. I never finished the school apron, or the yellow blouse with yoke and pleats with the fabric donated kindly by Mrs. Rowley but I cobbled together lots of hankies torn from odd pieces of white cotton fabric [probably old sheets or some such – so nothings changed there!].
Once I started making my own clothes on a second hand manual Singer, which sewed like a dream, I found it easier to get into the awkward bits with my needle rather than try and contort it on the machine and once I got interested in tailoring and learned how many stitches to the inch couture hands did – I was hooked again on hand sewing. Added to this is that once I gave my hand Singer away for an electric model, thinking it was time I upgraded [hah!] I have had nothing but fights with the stitch tension of every make and model of machine I’ve owned since, no matter how much or little it cost. Until last year when I bought my basic SD761 [which has Frister Rossman on it but came from Sewing Machines Direct as SD761] – which has automatic tension and I love machine sewing now almost as much as hand-sewing.
BUT, having been in bed for a couple of days with this lurgy thingy, I have been hand sewing again and found it soothing and satisfying once again. I re-did the collars and facings on two of my blouses, and re-set the hem on the camel skirt to a smoother curve. It only needed fractions of adjustment each time, but satisfying none the less. Whilst busy on my new ventures, I’d forgotten how pleasing the marking, pinning, tacking routine could be to make sure everything was in place before machining. I had got into the habit of pinning and then machining – and will probably do so again many times, but on the odd occasion the old routines are much better for the finished garment. These were made by entirely hand;- click to enlarge. – and yes, the check does match exactly at the side seams as does the back – one of the perks of hand-sewing!
First image of girl sewing ‘Lise sewing – 1866’ Wikimedia.
I found this blog fascinating and very informative. How much we take for granted in our mass produced lives. To think that before tissues, people hand sewed their own hankies. Your garments look beautiful. 🙂
Thankyou so much. Of course, if you had the coupons to spare and the money – you could buy hankies at drapers, but we had neither. I also remember collecting newspapers and selling them to the greengrocers and fishmongers for 6d [old money] to wrap their stuffs in. This was one of the ways I earned my pocket money! There was an acute paper shortage in Britain after WW2 – you should have seen the loo paper! makes me shudder even now!. Maureen
Maureen, I have to ask . What was the loo paper made from ? It is hard to imagine what life during and after the world wars was like. I am an Aussie born in the 60’s , so I did not see any hardship. I love reading stories like this, so please share more of your memories. 🙂
It was ‘glazed’,prickly,hard and shiny! It was also hard to come by – my father did his own ‘rationing’ and doled out 3 sheets each when we needed to go. There is so much today to be grateful for – but I don’t know if this is high on anyone else’s list – perhaps I should go out more. Thanks for the interest – perhaps I’ll do a post on life as a child during rationing – clothes were rationed from 1941 to late 1949-50, the last items came off rationing in 1954 after protests from housewives.
It would be great if you did write about rationing. Protesting housewifes would have loved to have seen that. Good on them.