Sunday, August 7, 2011



When I was in the 7th grade – way back when – boys were required to take “Shop” and girls were required to take “Home Economics” (Home Ec).

“Shop” was a woodworking class in which boys were taught how to use hammers, nails, saws, screwdrivers, and such.  They were taught to make something (useful?) out of wood.

“Home Economics” was a class in which girls were taught to cook and sew.
Mind you – this was back in the days when most women were housewives and – if a woman worked “outside of the home” – it was because her husband couldn’t adequately provide for her and his family.  My how times have changed!!

Anyway – I don’t have any of my cooking experiences to share – lucky you!

I do, however, have three “sewing” stories to share.

The FIRST thing I remember ever sewing was a Pink Tablecloth and Set of Four Napkins.  I don’t have them any more – but the tablecloth looked kinda like this – and the napkins were just mini-versions of the same thing.

My mother took me to the store to buy some "material" for the project – but since I wanted to make it as a present for her – I couldn’t tell her much.  All I knew was that we were not finding the right “kind” of material.  She finally told me to tell the saleslady who worked there what I was making and ask her to help me.  That worked!  The saleslady helped me find some pretty pink – solid – tablecloth weight "material" – with a study weave.  Perfect!

Because we girls were just learning how to sew – all we had to do was to sew a straight line about an inch away from the edge of the square that we had cut out - with scissors - oh, the horror!  ;))  The straighter the line – the better the finished tablecloth.  After we sewed the line – we took a straight pin -  unraveled the cross-wise threads on the edges - and made “fringe”.  Clever, huh?

The SECOND thing I remember ever sewing was a Green/Pink Apron and Potholder set.  I already told you about that here.  I still have the pattern - it takes only one yard of "material".  I think I did a good job – considering the fact that I was only twelve years old – and left-handed!  This project taught me how to make gathers, topstitch, and sew a hem.  

The THIRD thing I remember sewing was a gathered skirt.  We were to buy three yards of “material” and a zipper and some hooks and eyes.  (Funny the things you remember, huh?)

I bought some “polished cotton” – white with big flowers and leaves – very soft looking and very pretty (back then).  It was about the weight of light-weight upholstery fabric - and working with it was a ROYAL pain!

I remember stitching three rows along the top of the skirt and trying to pull them to gather the waistline - three yards down to a twelve-year old's waistline! The damn threads kept breaking!
I HATED that thing! The zipper gave me fits – and the hooks and eyes didn’t cooperate either!  And hemming three yards of fabric - by hand - was not my idea of fun at the time.

I FINALLY got it finished – and had to turn it in the next morning – to get credit for the project. I washed it and hung it out on the clothesline to dry (this was before we had a “dryer”).

When I went out to get it – to iron it before taking it to school – it was GONE!

It was windy – and it had BLOWN AWAY!

I wanted to cry!

I went looking for it and found it in the neighbor’s backyard about four houses down – (we didn’t have fences either) - caught up on a patio chair. God, I HATED that thing! Never wore it either! 
It’s a wonder I EVER sewed again!

But – as you have probably guessed – I DID sew again.

I eventually sewed my own clothes and made little dresses for our daughter when she was younger. I loved sewing dresses for her – the shoulder seams were only an inch or two long!

Seems like I was always sewing something.

And always looking for the right "kind" of FABRIC.

Even if it was called "MATERIAL".

So - move over Madonna - I'm a "MATERIAL" GIRL, too!


Katie M. said...

Oh, Lord, I remember Home EC - hated it - I'd have rather been in Shop! I can't remember it all, but the first thing I remember was a simple rectangular apron with a tube threaded through the waist. Then a simple sheath type, sleeveless dress - never did fit! And I didn't sew again until I was pregnant with my first - didn't do so good with trying to make little baby saques. Tried again to sew when she was about 18 months and I had a new baby - I guess I finally 'got it' because I've been sewing ever since! And a note here - Once I did start to actually enjoy sewing was when I bought myself a jeans pattern to make some jean style shorts. The 5 pocket with a zipper type of jeans. I think I might have been bored with the 'simplicity' of my first pattern experiences....ummm, something to ponder.

Thanks for the memories!

Rose said...

I so remember Home Economics. I loved the cooking class and absolutely hated the sewing class.
Our first assignment was to hem a tea towel. It took me almost the entire year to finish that freaking tea towel and then I got an F on it. We also had to make a gathered skirt and it didn't look any better than the tea towel. My mother was upset with my lack of ability with sewing so she arranged for me to take private lessons during my summer vacation.
I made a straight line, blue dress that slipped over my head. When I finished, I took it home to model it for my mother and we both went into hysterics laughing. It looked like something a patient in a mental hospital might wear. Needless to say, I never wore it and never again made anything to wear. Ah, sweet memories.

Mad about Craft said...

I wrote a great long comment and then lost it, about my school days, sorry can't repeat it.

I did needlework to exam level and had to mark my work 'left handed' as some of the stitching ran the 'wrong' way.

Katie said...

Oh yes, I remember Home Ec. But by the time I got there, boys had to take it and girls had to take Shop, too. I remember having more fun in Shop - we made a gumball machine and used a Mason jar for the gumballs. I only remember making a pillow where we had to blanket stitch eyes and a mouth and other felt shapes on to make a face. I made a second one for extra credit beause sewing a slightly curvy blob wasn't all that hard. We also had to cook and I still have those recipes (well, my mom does) today, and they're great basics. I took a second semester, too, which I kinda marvel at considering I never wanted to be a housewife (stay home and raise kids, NO thank you!) but they let us do an interior design portion, so that sucked me in. But I realized, even at 13 years old, I wasn't destined for THAT line of work! Sadly, no stories about zippers, hooks and eyes, gathering threads or anything else complicated, but to hear your stories, it's a wonder ANYONE bothered to sew after that sort of trauma! I should ask my niece what they do now - she starts 7th grade in just a few short weeks.

Rose said...

Speaking of material, I just remembered something else.
I can remember going with my mother to the "peicegood shop" to look for material. My mother did not sew and only bought material to take to her seamstress to have things made.

When my maternal grandmother died, my mother tried her best to get me to take my grandmother's treadle sewing machine. I remember that the sewing table had a brown marble looking top. I was so young and so sure that I would never sew that I refused her offer many times until she finally quit offering it to me. Can we all say STUPID? Oh well, I've learned all of my life lessons too late.

Judee said...

Cute post! Are you sure we didn't go to the same schools and grow up in the same neighborhood?


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