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A 1940s Sewing Book Can Teach Us About the Past

Vintage volumes deliver more than technique know-how.

Apr 01, 2019
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One of the virtues of sewing our own clothes is the way it connects us to the past. While still a popular pastime, sewing is, for most Americans, more a pleasurable hobby than an economic necessity. We live in an era where, for better or for worse, globalization has made clothing affordable to most, particularly in the West. Today, the majority of us struggle with too much clothing in our closets rather than too little, hence the popularity of declutter celebrities like Marie Kondo and reality TV shows like Hoarders. Digging through vintage sewing books written in the first half of the last century reveals very different attitudes about the value of clothing, as well as the contribution sewing could make to the home economy.

Vintage sewing books are sold on eBay, at used bookstores, flea markets, and thrift stores. Some are rare, most are not. I find them fascinating…

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  1. User avater Deefeatherock April 9th

    Excellent! I need a copy for my collection. I have many, some from the 1920's. Vintage sewing, courier by apprenticeships are my background. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Love Threads Insider ♡

  2. user-6790580 April 9th

    My mother was given that very book as a school prize in 1947. When I began to sew it was my bible and so clear. It has just been passed on to my daughter as she begins her sewing journey. Wonderful to see it here.

  3. squink April 9th

    Imagine how surprised I was to see this book featured. I still have it to this day and refer to it often. It belonged to my mother who taught me how to sew at a very young age. I was born in 1944, so it was very useful for a youngster just learning to sew.

  4. Delica April 10th

    I will definitely have to add this one to my vintage sewing books collection.

  5. User avater Lainysews April 10th

    Got it on order. Absolutely love this article. Thank you for posting it!

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