I was in the fabric store yesterday and watched as a mother helped her young son look through the patterns to find one for a beginning sewing class he had apparently signed up for. That made me think of this delightful poem from one of my collection of vintage books:
A Young Seamstress
(author unknown - published 1910 in "New American Speaker" -- a collections of poems and recitations of the 1800s)
"I am learning how to sew, though I'm such a little maid;
I push the needle in and make the stitches strong;
I'm sewing blocks of patchwork for my dolly's pretty bed,
And mamma says the way I work it will not take me long.
It's over and over -- do you know
How over-and-over stitches go?
"I have begun a handkerchief. Mamma turned in the edge,
And basted it with a pink thread to show me where to sew;
It has Greenaway children on it stepping staidly by a hedge;
I look at them when I get tired, or the needle pricks, you know;
And that is the way I learn to hem
With hemming stitches -- do you know them?
"Next I shall learn to run, and darn, and back-stitch, too, I guess.
It wouldn't take me long, I know, if 'twasn't for the thread;
But the knots keep coming, and besides -- I shall have to confess --
Sometimes I slip my thimble off, and use my thumb instead!
When your thread knots, what do you do?
And does it turn all brownish, too?
"My papa, he's a great big man, as much as six feet high;
He's more than forty, and his hair has gray mixed with the black;
Well, he can't sew -- he can't begin to sew as well as I.
If he loses a button, mamma has to set it back!
You mustn't think me proud, you know,
But I'm seven, and I can sew!"
At one time, stitching and sewing were considered necessary accomplishments for all young girls to learn in knowing how to be prepared for the running of their own homes one day. The little antique doll pictured above from Nonnie's shop has a dress that might well have been part of a sewing lesson for the little girl who played with it.
Now, both girls and boys may learn how to sew -- but is no longer considered a necessary skill by many. As one who was taught at an early age, I grieve the loss for those who don't know even how to sew on a button or repair a seam. But, there is also so much more we can do with the art of sewing these days as well! For those in the past, it was considered a necessity and much of Great Grandma's time might have been committed to darning socks or stitching up a seam. Now, the sky is the limit on how a needle and thread can be utilized creatively. Just look at these amazing pieces from the Boomers and Beyond Etsy shops, including lots of items that can be incorporated into stitching!