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Sewing: The Background

The history of sewing is a fairly daunting topic, it turns out. Not only has it been around for millennia, but it encompasses so many different sub-topics: the mythology, the art, the technique, the advent of the sewing machine, patent wars, automation in the workplace, sewing clothing, sewing wounds, sewing as a social activity, etc.  Duly perturbed by such a task, my foray into the history of sewing touches on most of these areas without a full understanding of any of them. If nothing else, the sheer amount of sewing information (though, not a lot of accessible scholarly information?) has instilled in me what I believe to be an appropriate amount of awe for the material and respect for the practitioners.


Learning Sewing Techniques through an Inquiry,  Henna Lahti

  • This article presents a nifty idea of teaching sewing not through extensive pedagogy and projects but as an “inquiry”.  The nature of this is not really germane to our investigation, but this paper does provide other interesting information. For instance, the author discusses how sewing is connected to other important areas, including resource management and social responsibility. It also divides sewing into composition and construction spaces, which underlies the intriguing point that sewing necessitates both interesting creativity and technical prowess.  So, in summary, cool.

The Power of the Pin: Sewing as an Act of Rootedness in American Literature, Ozzie J. Mayers

  • I’m not particularly interested in examining the femininity of sewing and what it represents about American culture, the changing dynamic of American culture, and its changing representations in other American media, but if you’re interested then you should check this out. Maybe. It’s still kind of old and it feels a little sexist.

Integrated 3D Sewing Technology and the Importance of the Physical and Mechanical Properties of Fabrics, Philipp Moll

  • Perhaps the most interesting sewing related article I’ve read to date, this three-pager provides little to no information on sewing per se, but instead describes the changing automated process of sewing as it becomes more and more like the car assembly line. Though the author still has time to remind the reader that “the individual mastery of the craft of sewing produces objects which each time are a little different — rather like a good work of art.”

Circling Back to Sewing, Anita Hamilton

  • As with all things old, the hipsters of today have latched onto sewing, doubling the sales of Singer sewing machines from 1999 to 2006. This article describes some of the reasoning behind this return to the hand designed and stitched clothing era as well as its manifestation in a sewing community.

Sewing Revolution: The Machine that Changed the World

  • And what list would be complete without a discussion of the sewing machine, which completely changed the world of sewing?  Certainly not this list.

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