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May 14, 2012

Home Sewing Is Easy?



Readers, today my rusty, crusty Elna Lotus goes back to British Columbia -- good-bye and good riddance, as they say.

While that eBay purchase was a bust, another recent transaction was a success.  By now most of you are probably familiar with the vintage comic-book style instructional pamphlet "Home Sewing is Easy" by a certain Sally Stitch.  Images of it are all over the web, and I nearly fell off my zafu cushion when I saw this creation of Sarah's over the weekend.

(Forgive me, Sarah, for stealing this off your blog.)

Like female college roommates and their periods, we sewing bloggers tend to move in sync -- have you ever noticed that?

Now while I don't think I'll be stitching up a pair of "Home Sewing is Easy" boxer shorts any time soon, I will say that this sewing pamphlet is adorable, especially to fans of vintage comic books, graphic novels, and Roy Lichtenstein prints.



Illustrations aside, this sixty-page booklet is also a very credible instruction manual, covering such vintage sewing techniques as bound buttonholes, marking hems with skirt markers, and using buttonholer attachments.  It includes topics like shopping for fabrics and creating a personal palette (a la Color Me Beautiful).  There's no date on it, but "Home Sewing is Easy" looks and sounds very late Forties to me.









Of course, what most people undoubtedly love about "Home Sewing is Easy" is its pre-feminist, happy-homemakers-on-a-budget tone, which anyone who has ever leafed through a vintage Forties issue of Good Housekeeping will be familiar with.



Lines like, "Gosh, Honey -- if you can make dresses like that, your sewing machine was one solid investment all right! or a neighbor commenting "Look at the way she's dressed; she must be throwing Harry's money around" are catnip to camp aficionados.  I wasn't looking for this gem but found it while trolling the sewing machine listings on eBay one night -- see, good things sometimes can come out of compulsive shopping habits!  

You can see more photos of "Home Sewing Is Easy" here, and I'll be creating a board on my new Pinterest page soon, if you're pinterested.

Is home sewing easy -- and economical?  I'm not so sure.  Thoughts?

Happy Monday, everybody!

31 comments:

  1. I've always had craft-y leanings so I might think it's easier than some people do. The hardest part for me is finding the time.

    Economical? Actually, yes--at least for some things. I'll buy underwear and T-shirts, since I don't go through them fast enough to justify buying a serger, and they don't interest me enough to spend my little sewing time on them. But it's absolutely worth it to me to be able to make clothes I really like and that really do fit, in exactly the color and fabric I want, and with better finish quality than I can afford to buy.

    So, it would be easier and sometimes cheaper to just buy clothes, but I wouldn't like them as much, they wouldn't be as comfortable, and they probably wouldn't last as long.

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  2. LOVE it...for Aussie sewists looking for that fabric it can be found at Tessuti fabrics in Sydney and Melbourne. Here's the link: http://tessuti.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/feature-fabric-of-week-home-sewing-is.html

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  3. You know, from the title, I thought this was going to be a book about sewing draperies and bedding, or what we now call "home dec" sewing. My answer to whether it's easy and economical is the same for both -- it depends on your standards, and on what you're making. You can't sew something for yourself or for your home more easily or less expensively than buying something at Walmart/Target type stores that came from an overseas factory, but those with the patience to learn couture techniques can absolutely save money by making their own designer knock offs. So maybe my answer is that home sewing can be either easy OR economical -- just not both at the same time!

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  4. Sarah's dress is delightful!

    Take note, she made it with eight (8) darts!

    Darts Peter, darts!

    Sarah and your SIL are practically body doubles, and your silk sewing solution was in the funny papers the entire time.

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  5. For me, home sewing always yields a better-looking, higher-quality result, and the satisfaction of DIY is huge. Whether it's economical depends: If you run across a great buy on fabric on Etsy or something, you can come out ahead, even way ahead. Sadly, though, much of the country is now dependent on Jo-Ann, a place where the prices quickly eat any possible savings.

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  6. Did you notice they recommend sewing the darts from the tip!!!???

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    1. I thought you should always sew the darts from the tip, and that's what I do...

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    2. I always do it from the widest point to the tiniest, i.e., ending at the tip. It's easier to run the machine off the tip of the dart with a teeny tiny stitch length, than to start it there.

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    3. I agree - I sew off the tip of the dart and hand tie a knot on the thread before clipping.

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  7. To me home-sewing is a constant challenge. In the very beginning I started with very simple things like shopping bags which wasn't really simple. In the meantime I sew many shirts and jeans, but it still seems impossible to me to sew a suit. So, my expectations are growing the same way my sewing knowledge does.
    Rebecca is absolutely right - home sewing gets more economical when you are able to make more complicated or refined garments! Anyway, the happiness about a well selfmade shirt cannot be expressed in terms of money.
    The booklet looks really funny - I have to see whether I can get it in Germany.

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  8. It reads like 1956 to me.

    And yes, home sewing can be easy if you are doing plain curtains and pillowcases, or things that don't require fitting.

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  9. LOL, yes we bloggers move in sync. As usual, you made me snort coffee through my nostrils. Sewing is easy for those of us who won't rest until we master it; we may be a little weird in that regard.
    Not to mention a little tired from all this easy sewing.
    ha!

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  10. Hehe I have this book! Casey threw it in the awesome box of goodies when we had our swap - and yes, I wrote a blog post with all kinds of pictures. Although mine is a different edition than yours; the cover isn't the same at all.

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  11. Golly, Peter, am I glad you posted this today! Now I can learn how to control fabric fullness with PLEATS! So easy!

    Actually, now the ebay bids are going to ramp up to astronomical numbers, but maybe I can find a copy in a few months. :-)

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    Replies
    1. My evil plot revealed -- muahahahaha!

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  12. Economical? Well, maybe, if you don't count the cost of time and materials involved in all the unwearable crap you make during that long, slow, slog up the learning curve.

    Easy? That depends on your standards and on what you're making.
    -- stashdragon

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  13. There was a time when making it yourself was cheaper than buying it at the store. Back before we outsourced our fabric production overseas. Back when there were still local mills, fabric was to be had cheaply--my mother complains about the cost, and says that even with inflation, sewing supplies have at least tripled in price in her lifetime.(Then again, she remembers when gas was $0.20/gallon!)

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  14. Hi Peter,

    I read this comic is from 1950.

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  15. Hi Peter! Thanks so much for the mention and feel free to 'steal' pics from my blog anytime - LOL! Oh, this book is a gem! It's so fun to see more of the illustrations that didn't make it into my fabric.

    As for economical? It depends on what you're making. I can make a lovely cotton dress for far less than in the shop, but delve into more high-end fabrics and the budget is shot. However, it's the personal satisfaction I feel over a handmade garment that is the true value for me.

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  16. The "Home Sewing is Easy" fabric can also be found here:

    http://www.ahfabrics.com/collections/category/216-home-sewing-is-easy

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  17. It is for me, Peter - being in that size range that is known as PLUS, where the shop offerings tend to either be made entirely from plastic and cheap, or uber design meister and really expensive, and my tasted oddly enough eschew plastic clothing, it is cheap. I can spend $30NZm on a gorgeous fabric and make a garment for $120 that if my favourite shops actually stocked it (unlikely) it would be $600. So, I guess there is a plus to being a plus sewist? :)

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  18. I want that (comic book) what a riot!!!!!! Sorry to hear about your lotus! Bummer!

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  19. provided I don't count labour or my time as a cost, I seem to come out ahead, but then clothes are more expensive in Australia.

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  20. It's not as economical as it used to be because basic, mass-produced, clothes are much cheaper than they used to be. But if you want clothes as well-made and tailored as you can achieve making them yourself, then yes it's probably much cheaper than buying them. Some things, like a basic tshirt or singlet might be cheaper to make yourself, at least here in NZ where clothing is more expensive. And women's stuff is always more than men's, often for lower quality. I'm always amazed at the construction of my husband's shirts and pants when similar details would cost me twice as much!

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  21. How funny, I JUST bought some fabric in that print! I had seen a dress made in that fabric on Modcloth.com (for over $100) and decided I could make it for cheaper. . .Now its just a matter of making it.

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  22. Home sewing, for me, is a fun way to be creative and not feel silly for buying fun clothes that "sort of" fit, but it's not any more economical in the main. If nothing else, buying fabric worth sewing with is hard to justify the price of, but it does work budget-wise in the reverse; I frequently *don't* buy things when my immediate thought is "I could make that, but the print would be more fun." This has saved me from purchasing many a cheap dress. Knowing what fabric and patterns I have would also probably do a lot for my sewing purchases as well, but I don't really have a solid handle on that one, yet ;)

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  23. Glad to see you are part of the sewing resurgence. Once it was a craft, a skill and a human need. Glad to see men in the field.

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  24. Economical? At times. Easy? Not exactly, but not brain surgery either. The truth, as with most things in life, is somewhere in the middle.

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  25. Easy? Not necessarily. Economical? I
    t depends. Worth doing because it's fun? YES YES YES.

    Incidentally fellow down under sewers I have a nasty feeling that Tessuti in Aust may not have that fabric any more- the page is dated 2009.

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  26. What a great book! Easy? Not so much for those of us with less experience, but the satisfaction is worth the trouble.

    Economical? Back when that book was published, sewing was more economical than buying. My mother saved a lot of money sewing for herself, her home and for me. But when the cheap imports were all over the stores, the prices of fabric and notions skyrocketed. Home sewing no longer seemed worth the time and effort.

    I do save money on things like hems that I see other people taking to the tailor. I needed a back-liner for my too-thin curtains and scored some great fabric at a thrift shop, which saved me some cash.

    Sewing your own clothes does give you the opportunity to make a garment of far higher quality and better fit than you would find in ready-to-wear without spending hundreds. In my case, I’m not really there yet. I’m happy if my garment has a front and a back and fits my hips. But for me, it’s all about the journey. My seams may not be all that straight, but I learn as I go and each seam gets a little better and easier.

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    Replies
    1. I think that's the right attitude, Roberta!

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