Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's old is new. Again.

"What are you doing?"

The question took me by surprise when baby sister Rikki Tikki Tavi called last Saturday afternoon. Sure that she was imagining my slothful self sleeping or napping, "I'm a little ashamed to say" was my response.

"Oh gross! Are you in the bathroom?!"

"No, it's worse. I'm watching a quilting show on television."

"Ugh, you shoulda let me believe the first guess."

Rikki Tikki Tavi doesn't mind having a sister/free tailor but the last thing she wants to hear is sewing talk but I am feeling a bit more special today after reading that Julia Roberts is taking sewing lessons. How about that? I think we've reached the stage of Sewing Is Now Officially Cool.

While perusing sites such as Craftster.com, I am impressed by the young age of fearless sewists with no formal training. Those teenage chicks are seeking old sewing machines, vintage fabric and patterns to make their own mark.

Back in Mom's day, every female took Home Economics courses and knew how to sew. In my high school days, it was an elective but because my elective was already fulfilled by music, I wasn't able to take any Home Ec classes, ever. Even if my casual interest in sewing had been explored, I didn't really want to be a part of what I considered kinda pathetic path. Home Ec in the 80's is what you did when you had no collegiate or career future.

Brought on by television show Project Runway, perpetuated by Anthropologie marketing and augmented by online commerce site etsy.com, personally crafted items are still (or yet again) appreciated even in our current age of cheap factory made everything. Our eye zones in toward the imperfect handmade touch and it's not the first time in our history. The Arts and Crafts movement (1860-1910) was a reaction against industrial consumerism. And what better rebellion from 1970's plastic than macrame and pottery? It ebbs and flows, my friend.

When I sit in my craft room, late at night, mending a favorite clothing items or rummaging through the buttons, I wonder what my great-grandmothers would've thought of my late-bloomed passion for sewing. What would they say about massive craft room? Or online sewing blog?

I hope they're proud.


Kristie said...

I'm of the era where females took Home Ec, but it was on the tail end of it when males weren't afraid to take it as an elective, just as females took auto mechanics class and woodworking. I am an avid quilter and have sewn clothes from scratch, but could never interest my kids. (The hubby brags routinely about his experience machine sewing a down vest and hand sewing two patches on a jean jacket - one a marijuana leaf and the other a peace sign!) Now that my kids are grown and a thousand or so miles away they have an interest in learning to sew. I think it is an excellent way to have more freedom, independence and another great method of expressing your creativity. By the way, I spent most of June sewing burlap runners for my daughter's wedding reception. Who knew burlap would get a new breath of life?! You just never know.

Anonymous said...

your entry about sewing and home ec made me smile...guess who was the only girl that aced the laundry quiz! of course you don't put gold lame' in the washing machine...think I was the only girl that knew what lame' was!

Skitzo Leezra Studio said...

How neat, Kristie, we used burlap runners for my friend Chrysanthemum's wedding reception. And now you can reuse them year 'round, right?

Kristie said...

Hey Skitzo - I made 27 of those burlap runners and painted a B on the ends for the newlyweds. They are really long, so no, I'm not re-using them ... as runners anyway. I made some burlap bags for the onions and potatoes from our garden and with some of the remaining B's I plan to make pillows for some of the family who helped out. Any idea how to make purple tempura on a piece of burlap waterproof? Sheesh. There's a task I'd never thought of before (otherwise I would have used something other than tempura paint!) I was pleased that a few people asked if they could have some runners for their own homes though.