The Culture of Sewing : Gender, Consumption and Home Dressmaking
Throughout its long history, home dressmaking has been a formative experience in the lives of millions of women. In an age of relative affluence and mass production, it is easy to forget that just over a generation ago, young girls from middle- and working-class backgrounds were routinely taught to sew as a practical necessity. However, not only have the skills involved in home dressmaking been overlooked and marginalized due to their association with women and the home, but the impact home dressmaking had on women's lives and broader socioeconomic structures also has been largely ignored. This book is the first serious account of the significance of home dressmaking as a form of European and American material culture. Exploring themes from the last two hundred years to the present, including gender, technology, consumption and visual representation, contributors show how home dressmakers negotiated and experienced developments to meet a wide variety of needs and aspirations. Not merely passive consumers, home dressmakers have been active producers within family economies. They have been individuals with complex agendas expressed through their roles as wives, mothers and workers in their own right and shaped by ideologies of femininity and class.This book represents a vital contribution to women's studies, the history of fashion and dress, design history, material culture, sociology and anthropology.
“Sewing,as a fixture of production, consumption, femininity, gentility, home, and work, deserves the serious attention of historians and theoreticians ... the most interesting essays reveal how ... women actually served to integrate the home into commercial life ... This series(dress,body culture) attempts to move specialists out of their professional ghetto while infusing such theoretically "hot"subjects such as dress and bodies with some real material content.Both are welcome goals” —Business History Review
“A collection of well researched essays ... An interesting book to dip into as each essay is complete in itself. A student of dress would find it useful as it has personal accounts that you wouldn't find anywhere else.” —Costume
“This seminal publication contributes to Berg's recent prolific impact on the field of costume studies, and this book will not disappoint those searching for the latest serious academic inquiry into new areas in the field of dress ... The editor's incisive synthesis of the issues underpinning this field of study, as well as those brought out by the authors of the various papers, provides a strong contextual framework for any further work that may be undertaken on this topic ... The extent of the complementary coverage of this topic from different standpoints adds to the strength of this publication.” —Dress
“The Culture of Sewing aptly demonstrates the relevance of home sewing to our collective scholarly lives. Focusing on nineteenth-and twentieth-century Britain and America, it also shows that home sewing has a history far more specific and varied than my adolescent shortsightedness. ... I am not yet ready to take up home sewing. However, I urge readers to take up the best essays in this book. Together they urge us to re-assess relationships between paid and unpaid labor, work and leisure, and perhaps most important, the economy and everyday life.” —Enterprise and Society