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Monday, September 24, 2007

Here is a wonderful article....

This is a wonderful article printed with permission from Patternmart.com. Enjoy!

Home Sewing A Forgotten Pastime

There was a time in the world when mom or grandma would make their children's school clothes, repair garments by hand, and make stuffed animals and gifts for the neighbors.

Children arrived on the first day of school wearing a new handmade dress or uniform. Their fashion dolls were dressed in clothing made of the same fabrics and stuffed animals were created from remnants or socks. Fast forward to the 21st century where most people's clothing, home decor items, and gifts are purchased at the local mall or department store. Brand names and trendy styles are what kids are wearing now. Today we live among a multi-tasking fast-paced generation where instant gratification is the norm. No longer do people have the time or the patience to sit in front of a sewing machine or grab a needle and thread to create hand-made items. People today are constantly on the go.

Where did our mothers and grandmothers learn to sew? They were taught by their mothers, grandmothers, and even in a school. It wasn't until the late 1970's that we started seeing sewing education classes disappear from many school curriculums. During the 1970's and before, sewing was primarily viewed as "women's work". However, there came a time when women were longing to join the workforce and earn money working outside of the home like their male counterparts. Eventually, it became common to see families who had two parents working outside of the home. In two-parent working families, when would there be time to go back to the basics and sew? Parents were still responsible for home and family duties after working a 40-hour week which left little time for doing things "the old way". As a result, with more money coming into the household and less time to sew, families were buying their clothes and gifts off the shelf.

As a child growing up, my mom was too tired and lacked the time and patience necessary to teach me how to sew. After all, it was much easier to just go to the store and buy whatever we needed. If children of my generation experienced family life as I did, how would we learn to sew and teach our children to sew? Better yet, how would we keep this tradition alive for years to come? Looking back, some of the most beautiful dresses I owned and the cutest outfits my Barbie dolls had came from grandma's sewing machine. I didn't know it then but handmade clothing was becoming scarce and I wish I would have treasured it more than I did. I have very few items left from grandma but I still have the handmade Barbie doll clothes.

Something inside of me always yearned to sew. I wanted to create handmade items that would be carried through generations. I wanted to create items that had my personal touch and a quality you could no longer find on a store shelf. I wanted to pick the fabrics and lace and create beautiful dresses. When I went in search of someone in the family who could teach me, I didn't find anyone who still sewed or who was willing to teach me. I decided I would buy a sewing machine and teach myself. With the help of many books and a little trial and error, I became a self-taught seamstress. I began making my own clothes, making gifts for family, and making Barbie doll clothes for my nieces. The joy I derived from sharing my handmade treasures was more than I could hope for.

As neighbors, friends, and family began to appreciate and treasure my love of sewing, I was finding that it reminded them of a time when their relatives created handmade items for them. Very few of them had any remnants of the items that were hand-crafted for them which made them appreciate my talent even more. Today, not only do I teach my younger family members how to sew, I sew Barbie doll clothes for my online store. I've been selling doll clothes online since 2001 and have received so many emails from appreciative customers who tell me what my hand crafted items mean to them. Even if people today do not have the time or skills to make hand-sewn items, I am able to bring my creations into their families which helps them to create new memories and traditions. My hope is that the handmade items I make for others not only bring them happy memories later in life but might also one day inspire them to learn how to sew.


Adrienne Hughes, seamstress and e-book author of Sewing Patterns Defined lives with her husband, her Yorkshire Terrier, and her Barbie dolls in Texas. She has no affiliation with Mattel. She invites you to visit her online Barbie clothing store at www.sewingbyadrienne.com and www.shopforbarbie.com.

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