A 1940s Sewing Book Can Teach Us About the Past
Vintage volumes deliver more than technique know-how.
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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