Thursday, September 6, 2012

Old Sewing Books





Lately, I've become enamored with 1940's and earlier sewing books. I started collecting them almost 20 years ago when I shopped vintage clothing for stores in California, Florida and Michigan. Back in the mid- nineties every church rummage sale had a bunch of them and a sewing machine for $1 on the last day. First with the invention of online selling sites and now with the help of things like Project Runway, more people are sewing and buying on and off the Internet.

I usually don't spend much time perusing the books, I've always just used them to find out how to do something I wasn't sure about. But I will be teaching a Needleworks class at our co-op and, true to form, have been digging through my collection of books for ideas and explanations.

I am especially taken with the sections on remaking and reusing clothing. The 1925 Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences book on Dyeing-Remodeling-Budgets as well as New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing from 1943 actually have pictures of how to lay out patterns on previously used clothing, much like I did on my denim jacket here.

They describe a number of ways to redo dresses, shirts, jackets and make childrens clothing from adult clothing. Even the current Sew News magazine does an article on how-to upcycle three blazers into one fabulous jacket. What is old is relevant again.

Also neat about these books is how thoroughly they cover the topics. I do believe I get more out of them now than I did 20 years ago because my sewing knowledge is greater. Comparing a 1949 Singer Sewing Book to a new one is like comparing apples to oranges. Both delicious but completely different in flavor, smell and availability. Although this new Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing - Revised + Expanded Edition: 1200 Full-Color How-To Photos looks interesting! 1200 photos? I think I'll have to check it out!

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