The Sew Weekly Sewing Circle

Hello fellow sewists!

I have been quiet lately, and that is completely my fault in biting off well more then I could even put in my mouth, let alone chew. To make a long story somewhat short I have returned to college as a full time student, I work part time, am helping raise my 3 nephews and one niece, and taking a quilting class that is a bit more difficult then I had anticipated. I've been too busy to even remember my own name, let alone keep up on my new community!.

My odd request is along the lines of school work! In my English Composition class we had to pick a single broad topic to be the focus of the three papers we will be writing this semester, and I chose sewing to be my topic, for a variety of reasons. Mostly because it was salient to me, and unusual enough that I thought it would be unique. Well, it certainly is unique, unique enough that finding topics to write about that have sources is...difficult. The first paper has been turned in, and I am awaiting my grade, but it was an informative argument about the Underground Railroad Quilt Code, which I knew nothing about when I started, but was really quite fascinating.

The second paper is a bit harder, as this one needs to be an evaluative argument. To put it simply, I need to find a smaller topic within the broad topic of 'sewing' and evaluate it. If only the paper itself was that simple. I can't seem to find a topic that has the required sources and information. 6 sources total, 4 of which need to have been in print at some point (aka. an article at can be used as it was originally in print) , 2 can be online, such as blogs. I am struggling with this, so I am turning to the experts I know! Nothing is off limits as long as it falls under the broad topic of 'sewing'. I had thought of an evaluation of home made vs. commercial, but that yielded few results. A second thought was an evaluation of sewing machine brands, I own a Bernina, but I don't know the brand well enough to argue "This is the best machine of all time!" But...then again, its a good time to learn...

Anyway! If anyone has any ideas that would make an interesting topic, a name that can lead me to even more sources, I would be deeply grateful for any help at all! This turned out a bit more long winded  then I had anticipated, so double thank you to everyone who stuck through it. As an aside, paper 3 is a cause and effect'll likely be hearing from me again! ;)

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i was reading a blog this morning about many people keeping sewing and crafting as a hobby because of the lack of value placed on hand-made items and the time and skill that goes into the finished result. The general argument seemed to be that it was better to have a regular job and pay the bills and keep the sewing for pleasure. So not so much an evaluation of home made v commercial, but more of society's perception of the value of effort.
to jump the gun & add to Jen's idea about value.... paper 3 - cause and effect. - How about cheap import clothing resulting in a lack of value placed on sewing as a life skill. You should be able to find some ever increasing statistics for import quantities, a declining number of local factories - ie. less jobs in sewing.. and possibly changing school curriculums with less emphasis on home ec.

What about the advantages of fit that you get when you make your own clothes? There are lots of things to purchase but they do not automatically fit us, thus don't typically look good or feel good. I have a closet full of stuff, but I reach for the things I have made because of how they ultimately fit.


I think factory process would be fascinating! My dissertation is also on sewing! I'll post up about it soon 

Good luck with your project! 

Another very fascinatic topic could be traditional cutting vs subtraction and zero waste cutting. This is more on the green/sustainable side of sewing but affects the fit and style very much.


These could help:


There is one more link in my bookmarks I just can't find right now....-)


But at what point (in history) do you place 'traditional' cutting, because one of the oldest patterns is called the 'Bog Coat', because the original came out of a bog from I don't remember when BC, and is totally a zero waste cut pattern.  If you look at Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Viking clothing patterns they also conform to the 'zero waste cutting' school of thought.


Another subject you could possible consider could be the Utility CC41 clothing from WW2, that would probably give you a good few sources to research.


Good luck, 'you're a braver (wo)man than I',

You are absolutely right. But I only had contemporary patterns in mind. :-)  And in my head a "traditional" pattern would be a pieced pattern... Forgive the lack of perspective.

This is such a fascinating topic, isn't it?

Fascinating & gi-normous.

I happen to be a bit of a history buff on the side (including pattern cutting) and occasionally a bit of a pedant - 'are you sure what you are saying is what you mean? or have I got the wrong end of the stick (confused)(again)?

How about an evaluation on couture v factory made?   Trying to evaluate 'labels' clothing to non 'labels' clothing could be a lot tricker to find sources.

Or different cloths used in the menswear suiting trade from cheap polyester from Matalan to finest worsteds from Lesser & Co as used on Savile Row.

Thank you all so much for the fantastic ideas! I plan on exploring each and every one of them. Mid-terms are over (yay!) so I have a bit more time to focus on the paper. I do appreciate the input!


Just found this very emotive article on what I think is a high profile designer trying to help in a third world country - nothing wrong with that, maybe you could look in to that.


Love Casey's suggestion - cheap clothing - what an environmental disaster and totally unsustainable


Also I love this article on why quilting is good for y0u


Good luck, wow brainy and a sewer - impressive


If you are also looking for academic journals etc, take a look at the Journal of Women's History. They seem to have a lot of articles on the history and development of traditional women's work, if that's an angle you might be interested in.


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