Thrifty and efficient wives of the nineteenth century were well practiced with a needle and thread, and just as we now depend upon the cell phones that have pushed into our lives in the past decade, the sewing machine became a respected piece of equipment quickly when introduced-despite the understandable reservations of social quilting groups. If you’ve read Eva and Henry, A Cape Cod Marriage, you know that Eva was able to support her household with her sewing machine when the fishing industry collapsed in the late 1800′s on Cape Cod.
This Singer website provides an illustrated chronicle of the invention of the sewing machine, the awards it won in France at the World’s Fair before the American Civil War, and the subsequent introduction of the sewing machine into American homes after the Civil War.
Today, due to the dual roles of home maker and career woman that woman aspire to, we’ve stopped teaching sewing basics in the forgotten home economics classes of most of our public schools. Who has the time?
But sewing has enjoyed a resurgence in the past few years as it has been re-introduced by crafting chain stores and through the educational videos on You Tube and other teachable mass media. And there are the old English proverbs from the dusty past admonishing us over the centuries to pay attention to the maintenance of our belongings, and we won’t need to spend so much on new items. “A stitch in time saves nine,” and “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, ” both come to mind. It can be fun to sit down to the task of mending, and then enjoy the concrete results of a favorite shirt with tight seams and buttons or a well worn jacket with a new zipper. Mending has always been part of the New England thrift mind-set.