Author Topic: Home sewing now and then.  (Read 1217 times)

Henry Hall

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Home sewing now and then.
« on: November 17, 2018, 11:11:09 AM »
Home sewing is pretty much looked down on from the tailoring community - not from all quarters, but in general it is. I don't think it was always the case. I have a personal example and some general ones to illustrate my case.

In the '70s (probably also earlier) my auntie worked as a machinist at a clothing firm - making everything from blouses to overcoats. My grandmother (her mother) worked at Burton's in the 1930s (where she met my grandfather).

My grandmother considered my aunt to be pretty much an amateur: 'all machine and nary a thimble in sight...' In truth my aunt was quite skilled and made lots of pieces for herself and others to a good standard, but I know what my grandmother meant. She made a skirt suit for my mother for a wedding and it was extremely good. I watched her when my mother went round for try-ons. She had a grasp of ironwork and prepared proper canvases and also made the collar in pretty much the same way a tailor would make it.

What I discovered later was that she hadn't been apprenticed or anything, but had learned in what would be considered a home sewing environment and at 'women's groups' in the 1920s and early '30s. The idea of so-called 'short-cut tailoring' is really a 1950s thing (from an American home economics author I believe) and doesn't appear to have been the norm until then.

This second example is a little different. If you compare books on home sewing today to books from around the '50s to the '70s there is a big difference. Books like Phyllis Schwebke's home tailoring book show methods that are often far more sophisticated and in-depth than Cabrera. I have a 1970s Burda manual which shows ironwork for trousers! I have a Dutch book, coffee-table-book format for hobby sewing, which has a jacket being pad-stitched at the lapels and collar.
This is not really how it is now. There is much simplification and iron-in fusibles are considered standard practice. Ironwork for trousers is not to be found. Linings are sure to be bagged and the buttonholing is generally extremely second-rate.

All this reflects badly on the idea of home sewing (or home tailoring) and feeds the view that it is by definition the road to amateurish results. This has not always been so.
‘Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquillity that no religion can bestow.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

TTailor

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2018, 01:00:43 AM »
I think there is a huge loss of information and skill set that happened at some point.
The new interest in sewing is great but the background seems to be missing, to the point where often new sewers think they have invented something new!
There is a lot of mis information out there and occasionally a bit of a herd mentality following people who claim to have knowledge.

Henry Hall

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2018, 04:31:15 AM »
I think there is a huge loss of information and skill set that happened at some point.
The new interest in sewing is great but the background seems to be missing, to the point where often new sewers think they have invented something new!
There is a lot of mis information out there and occasionally a bit of a herd mentality following people who claim to have knowledge.

 ;D Yes, I've seen this (probably even done it myself  :-[). It does say a lot for the persistence of human ingenuity, but reinventing the wheel is a waste of time.
‘Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquillity that no religion can bestow.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

TTailor

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2018, 09:51:17 AM »
I have to stop myself sometimes from commenting on the home sewing forum sites.
Its been a long time since i was a newbie, and since i do this for work i have a very different perspective than most.
What seems obvious to my eyes now was probably betond my comprehension, 30 years ago.

One issue I think people have trouble with is how to judge whether the information you find on youtube or a website is actually good. There was a recent angst about waistcoat welt pockets and the inability of someone to understand the directions from Burda. Some of the suggested methods on different websites/ blogs were terrible, with badly sewn samples on top of that. The inexperienced leading the blind!

With our junior sewers we instruct them in the basic concept, using “old” methods first until they understand what is going on, then we indroduce other ways of achieving the same thing. I think you need to know the proper or longhand way before you jump to the shortcut way. At least then you know why you are doing things.

I havent looked at a home sewing pattern in a long time and I sometimes wonder if the instructions are that bad?  Maybe?

Greger

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2018, 01:52:36 PM »
I hink the industry has far less tailors contributing so sound thought is disappearing. Mom sewed from store bought patterns and machine sewed everywhere she could. When she didn't have a sewing machine then she sewed everything with thimbled finger. Button holes and all. Some of the directiodirections from the store bought patterns are clearly in error. Mom wasn't dependent on any  of those directions having learned from grandad. I've read that some of those store patterns can be off by four inches. The store patterns the person who drew them their name is on them. Some are very good while others can be way off. If buying store patterns pay attention to the name who drew the pattern. As time goes by more and more nonsense is showing up. Schools (college) have less and less tailors involved. Back in the late sixties in the public schools around here the teachers really didn't know much about sewing. My aunt tried to get mom to help her children and mom wouldn't. Whereas, my grandad taught most anyone.

Even modern tailoring pattern systems require less iron work. But, I love some of  that grand old shaping by the iron, which isn't seen anymore. Iron work is an art, of which there are many kinds, but it seems like the simplest is what is seen anymore. Have or had two photos of great iron work, which is very different then the copy-cat norm. One I can't find to scan. The other is a terrible scan, so never posted it. It is hard to find pictures of uniqueness that is pure art. Most tailors just copy it seems. Slight changes at most. Anyway, I like seeing variety, which there is almost none. It seems like fitting is becoming a lost art to.

posaune

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2018, 10:25:06 PM »
I do go with Terri #1.
Why the knowledge is lost: in my opinion a) the girls (or boys) are not teached anymore in sewing at school.
b) The eighties with their boxus fit, large armholes and big shoulderpads  a.s.o. which were worn over a decade let the poeple loose the sense how a fitted garment looks. 
c)The new fabrics which can not be dressed with the iron.
d)The cheap prices and production of garments. Mostly done in country where work is cheap. Result: Nobody in our country learn the trade anymore.
So to get the knowledge back the brave hobby sewer has to read old books, which text she does not understand (anymore).
e) No little tailors are around to ask.
My most hated sentence in hobby sewing list (ladies) is: Have you done a FBA? Oh my.  This seems to be the cure of nearly all fitting problems.
As I am helping peoples with pattern software troubles I meet customers who knew next to nothing about pattern drafting - but sell e-books and have a pattern line.
lg
posaune

Henry Hall

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2018, 11:57:46 PM »
What is an FBA?
‘Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquillity that no religion can bestow.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

TTailor

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2018, 01:10:23 AM »
fba It is a “Full Bust Adjustment.”
Oh my gosh, its is painful to see the trials and errors of the fba.
What is strange is that they are all choosing smaller sized patterns because they are afraid of redrawing the armhole/ reducing the length of the shoulder seam, but go to all the trouble to do an fba and all that work. Often unsuccessful work.


Posaune, in addition to the fba, the other hated sentence is a forward shoulder adjustment. Is this adjustment for fit? This seems to involve changing the position of the shoulder seam by moving it forward. What is removed from the back is added to the front.
It drives me crazy because it doesnt change the fit. I think what they are trying to do is change how the sleeve sits, and instead of just rotating the sleeve, they need the notches to align or something.

Greger, it is almost always home sewing for women's wear rather than tailoring, and I think there has been an equivalent loss in knowledge there too.  Most Fashion schools don't even teach how to draft a basic block anymore so the students never understand how a two dimensional pattern reflects the body.

Its fascinating and sad all at once.

posaune

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2018, 08:10:15 AM »
OH yes, Terri. When I answer: It does not matter, where the shoulder seam runs I'm looked at like being the calf from the moon.
.-)
posaune

Henry Hall

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2018, 11:23:30 AM »
It's true the home-sewing forums have become their own little world, with their own strange mythologies. I don't frequent them very much (most are women's wear) so I don't get to read all the crazy stuff. I have been called 'an amateur' on several occasions. Once when questioning the sense of pinning an entire lining before sewing it by machine and sewing over pins in general.
‘Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquillity that no religion can bestow.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Greger

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2018, 03:49:35 PM »
It has been 15 to 20 years since I've looked at a home sewing forum.
I did look at a 1860s forum (civil war) some years ago.
I wonder how many patterns I could sell to the general public.
At my age trying to keep up with the latest fashion I'd have to hire a young person.

Dunc

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2018, 01:40:21 AM »
I think a lot of the problem is that (most of) an entire generation simply stopped sewing: clothes became cheap enough that even people who weren't well off didn't need to make their own, or alter hand-me-downs, or even do simple repairs. Home sewing was something old-fashioned that their mothers and grandmothers had done because they had to, and they wanted nothing to do with it. They gleefully threw their cheap, badly made clothes in the bin as soon as the buttons fell off.

Fast forward another generation or two and people have (to some extent) re-discovered an interest in it, now that it's lost that fusty aroma of old-fashionedness and poverty, but a lot of the skills have simply been lost. Stuff that previous generations learned at their mother's knee is just gone, at best consigned to out-of-print books, at worst lost completely because nobody realised that it needed to be written down.

Greger

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2018, 07:05:52 AM »
Some of it is best to be shown.

hutch--

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2018, 09:00:29 PM »
This phenomenon happens across a wide range of fields for much the same reason, skill loss driven by low cost low quality products. Many people have left many industries for exactly this reason, they have been flooded out by garbage and even though there is a demand for high quality products, few are willing to pay for them. Another phenomenon is technology change where construction methods have kept improving and for the rag trade, this means different fabrics and a plethora of industrial equipment for constructing garments in ways that did not exist some years ago.

Barbarian though it may be, a buttonholing machine is a lot cheaper and faster that doing them by hand and while the quality is nowhere near hand made work, they occur at a fraction of the price. While tailoring is fading away through either going bust or retirement where few are coming up to take their place, home sewing has a lot of potential for folks who want something that they cannot buy. Enough toys like sewing machines and overlockers and anything else you can find that is useful gives the skilled home sewer a lot of good capacity which they can develop into reliable methods of making high quality clothing.
The magnificent tools of the professional tailor
http://www.movsd.com/tailors_shears/  ;) ;D

Dunc

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Re: Home sewing now and then.
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2018, 09:22:47 PM »
I think another problem is simply that people's standards have changed, thanks to cheap mass production. Most people nowadays have literally never seen a well-fitting, well-constructed garment. I know this is a big problem I've had in my learning - I often don't have any proper reference for what I'm trying to achieve. When I made my first waistcoat, I had never seen a waistcoat that had interfacing, and wasn't just bagged - so I didn't really have a clear idea of what I was setting out to do.

If you look at the marketing materials for even some very "high-end" (i.e. expensive) RTW brands, which are presumably trying to show their stuff to its best advantage, a lot of it just doesn't fit properly - and that's what people end up taking as their reference point.