Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Evolution of Home Sewing: A New Feature
Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing (VoNBSS) gives us some interesting clues into home fashion sewing in the 1950s. Just the fact that VoNBSS existed is kind of baffling now--can you imagine if Vogue came out with a book of the same ilk today? I mean, it's virtually disposable, meant to be used in 1952, only with Vogue patterns from 1952. Can you even conceive of a Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing for 2009? A fully illustrated large hardcover (no doubt expensive to produce) featuring all new patterns that will become obsolete in a few seasons anyway?
I think its existence points to how home sewing was a much more profitable business in 1952 than today. In fact, the future for fashion sewing looks rather bleak right now. Fashion fabrics are being replaced by quilting fabrics. Joann's just filed for bankruptcy, and most Wal-Marts are shutting down their fabric departments. (Not that I recommend shopping at either of these places for fashion fabrics. A friend and I drove out to a Joann's in Long Island a few weeks ago, and the fashion fabric department was an unsightly, glittery, polyester disaster. But unless you live near a major city, those might have been your only brick and mortar options.)
In contrast, VoNBSS tells its readers, "Each of the patterns recommended is available at stores all across the country, and the recommended fabrics are just as easy to find." The book assumes that you will have no problem locating fabrics like silk satin and shantung, wool jersey, organdy, and velveteen.
The chapter called "Selecting Your Patterns" paints a picture in which new patterns are published every two weeks and are readily available at every department store in the "pattern department." Vogue also published a free "fashion folder" with the newest styles and suggestions for updating your wardrobe.
I wonder how we'll see home sewing evolve in the next few decades. Will we see more independent stores and pattern companies pop up? Will online shopping become the only option unless you live near a major garment district? What do you all think?
Essentially, it seems like we can look at VoNBSS not just as a great inspiration for sewing vintage, but also as an artifact of home sewing in its time. Look for more sewing history to come as I continue my sewing journey through VoNBSS!