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Home sewers from other countries

kathyc | Posted in Talk With Us on

I’d be interested in reading about the experience of home sewers in other countries. India, Brazil, Mexico, Korea, Russia, anywhere…


  1. caribjewel | | #1

    Well Kathy,

     I'm a beginner interested in hand sewing and fascinated with the tiny bit of info I have browsed on  haute couture.  I'm from Jamaica.  Yep. Bob Marley country. 


    1. Desiderata | | #4

      Hi caribjewel,

      Welcome welcome, here is another Jamaican, just wanted to let you know that you have a Sistren here. Where on the rock is that 'jewel' set?

      Are you able to get threads magazine there? If not let me know and I'll let you know where you can pick up your copy!

      I am interested in all aspects of sewing and needlework though the former commands more of my time. I like garment construction and I like haute couture sewing as well! I do a lot of sewing the 'old fashion' way.

  2. becksnyc | | #2

    I agree, KathyC.  Ethnic garments are an amazing source of inspiration.  The general scope of clothes in the US is narrow & uninspiring.  If I see one more person at a mall with faded jeans and a sloganed T-shirt--I think I will SCREAM! Go to Europe and look at how classy people dress in cities like Milan.  Korean traditional women's costumes are feminine, but bright--like a flower garden.  Look at the AMAZING patterns of the Maya weavers. (See the book Maya Textile Tradition by Foxx & Schevill)  The Indian sari or tunic over pants are beautiful AND comfortable.  And colorful.

    There is a world outside of the USA--and we could learn from it!  Great idea for Threads to use!


  3. JudyWilliment | | #3

    Does New Zealand count?  I think the experience of sewing here is pretty similar to the US, with the big difference being access to supplies.  There have always been fabrics, patterns, notions and so on readily available, but nothing like the range available in a big country.  Because we're in the Southern Hemisphere the patterns arrive in the appropriate season - months after I've drooled over the latest Vogues at Patternreview!  Independent pattern companies like Sewing Workshop are not sold here, and shipping costs are prohibitive, so are pretty much out of reach. 

    The day I discovered Threads my sewing improved, and the day I looked at the website and figured out that there are a lot of sewing-related websites out there I was hooked!  That really brings the world a little closer.

    I have a degree in Clothing and Textile Science, but I'm largely a self taught sewer, so while my skill level is pretty high I am always looking for new techniques to challenge and inspire me.  That's where the internet comes in.  Without this access to a world of sewing, I'd miss out on so much.

    New Zealand is still a pretty young country, and prides itself on ingenuity and the ability to make do with what is on hand - the pioneering spirit I guess.  So being able to sew has always been looked on as something to be proud of.  I've heard women on these sites say that when they were young homemade was definitely considered second rate - only those who couldn't afford to buy RTW actually sewed their own clothes.  Here there is admiration for your ability to do it yourself, and creativity is highly valued.


    1. Thea | | #5

      Hi all,

      I'm in Holland, and here, home made used to be pretty usual, but now it's become a weird hobby. People react shocked when I say I've made the jacket myself. But that may also be because I'm in a student environment, where I notice that most people who sew are women with kids, usually a bit older than I am.

      I think that fashion here is not very different from what you see in the US, maybe a bit more casual.

      One funny thing is, that most fabrics sold in Africa, the colourful bright ones, are made here in the Netherlands! The same goes for a lot of Indonesian fabrics (batik style). I'm very fortunate to have such access to the Indonesian batiks, because I really love the style. I've made several garments with them.


      1. vibeke | | #6

        I am a norwegian home-sewer and I can tell you it is considered a weird hobby here as well! Garment sewers here are few and far between and I try to glean all the knowlegde and inspiration I can get from Internett, books and international magazines.  Even though everybody here can afford dirt-cheap ready-to-wear clothing now, making your own quality garments still carries connotations of "mending and making do".  I know my sister in-law begged her mother to have a store-bought dress for her confirmation ca 25 yrs ago.  Even though I`m sure my mother-in-laws homemade dresses had superiour quality as she was brought up by a very competent mother who had 8 children and made (and remade)  all their clothes. (Among other things: She also held two cows for milk, cheese and butter, hens, fished most of their dinners and so on). She even spun her own sewing thread!  Her name is Johanne. She is now a 90 yr old grandmother of 30, great-grandmother of 46 AND the great-great-grandmother of 4! One more on the way.  I asked her once, what her life was like when she brought up her children (her husband died young).  She said it was a lot of work but great fun at the same time.  Until recently she also made the most lovely laces, som of wich we have been lucky enough to recieve as gifts.

        I recently watched a very interesting french TV-documentary from Tanzania.  Imported second-hand RTW (ready-to-wear) clothes from Europe is taking over the marked from the local tailors.  The locally made "congas" (gorgeous hand-printed lengths of cotton-fabric) are now far too expensive for most daily wear - compared to the cheap second-hand stuff.

        What these ramblings amounts to is that I think the proliferation of massculture, massproduction and massconsumption endangeres our sense of quality, our pride in our own creative powers and cultural diversity.

        1. Elisabeth | | #7

          Hi Vibeke,

          I am a former Norwegian home sewer. Former Norwegian, that is, I am still home sewing but I have been in the USA for most of my life, since 1960. I agree with you that people just don't understand or appreciate the quality and creative content of home sewn clothing! I have been away from sewing for a while and I am trying to get my name out as a dressmaker now and it is surprising how many people simply do not even consider having their clothing made especially for them. The only way they know how to get clothing is to go to a store and have something mass produced.

          Sometimes people want to know where a dressmaker was trained, what kind of schooling. Schools can produce wonderful dressmakers but what about those of us that learned from our mothers or grandmothers! Often I see a couture technique presented that is familiar and I realize it is something my mother taught me when I was quite young.

          I have this image of Norwegians in general having great respect for home made things but it sounds like even there the RTW trend is hot. My grandmother lived in Oslo and had a friend that was a dressmaker at Silkehuset (The Silk House) and this friend also made dresses for my grandmother. That is where my mother learned much of what she later taught me. I am grateful for the opportunity to have learned so much in the old fashioned way, the handing down of knowledge.

          I'll bet the family mother of 8 that you speak of, even with all the work she had with cows and kids, had a less stressful life than mothers these days with one or two children and a job outside the home! It sounds like she enriched everyones life around her too.

          "Selv gjort er vel gjort" ("self made is well made") is what I used to hear. I think we can show everyone how true that is by doing what we love to do, sewing!


        2. rjf | | #8

          I think people like you and Elisabeth should take pride in knowing that you recognize the value of hand-made that the RTW people don't know enough to appreciate.  When I did some dressmaking, I had a customer who oohed and aahed over the zig-zagged seam finish and was completely oblivious to how well the dress fit her strange little figure.  They don't seem to know the right things to appreciate.  So don't let your standards slide!  Someone has to keep up the good work.    rjf

        3. Sashita | | #10

          Dear Vibeke,

          I read your posting with interest!  You have a wonderful family history, and I want to give you a bit of loving advice.  Please take the time to write down everything you learn about your remarkable family. 

          I write this as advice because I have become interested in geneology and now find myself the oldest person on my family tree.  While I never had the privilage to know my grandparents, I could have learned so much from my mom and Dad had I been smart enough to ask the right questions, and I regret that very, very, much. Finding imformation now is extremely difficult, and quite likely impossible.

           Perhaps you will never write a story of your life and your ancestors, but it is  also possible that a younger person on the family tree will want to do this and the notes that you take now could be of inestimable value to them.    I have written my life story from my earliest memories to the night I went on a blind date and met my husband.  It was a gift to my children and grandchildren a couple Christmases ago.  Please do something like this for those who are yet to come into your family.

          On sewing,  I sewed for my five children, and taught many little girls to sew in 4H club work. I even learned traditional methods of tailoring when girls in their teens wanted to made coats and suits so that I could teach them. I had always sewed for myself as I was tall and nothing was available when I was young.  Then when clothing was made in my size range, I started buying my garments.  Then, about ten years ago, I got hooked on embroidery and have got back to sewing for myself.  I will wear a new suit or dress and somebody will compliment me on it and I just say--It was a little time at my sewing machine!   Since I have aged (I am 74) sewing for myself has become more a challenge, but my fabric stash is waiting and I look forward to the new patterns each season.  Only losing my eyesight will keep me from my machine!

          Keep up your sewing--and please do something about your family history.  Kathi (Sasha is really my cats name :)

      2. user-209643 | | #9

        Hi Thea,

        You too are not alone. I am also from Holland and a keen dressmaker. I have stopped for a while, because I was too busy with work and everything, but since I had a son (last year) I took out the time again to make things myself. Like you say, people are shocked to hear that I made that sweater or those trousers myself. I always consider it a compliment, because I interpret it as "really, you can't tell". I usually think you can, by the choice in fabric and the way things are finished (and by my wallet of course ;-))

        Btw, I am relatively young (early thirties) and my mother taught me how. One funny thing is that she used to put things together and then I'd sow them. At the end of last year I had a lot of projects going on and she came to help me and then we did it the other way around. I put things together the way they should be and all she had to do was sow.

        Good luck with your projects


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