Tuesday, February 10, 2015

- A stitch in time: Tailoring 101

Judy Martin posted a series of photographs of a Normal School Sewing Book that triggered a memory of this long-forgotten notebook ...


Fourteen years after I left my position as Needleworker at Colonial Williamsburg to become a librarian, I took a one-day class in tailoring techniques led by former Historic Trades cohort Rick Hill. Intended to showcase the skills needed by the staff of the Costume Design Center, it was a brief return to stitch at a time when I was fully involved with the planning and building of the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library.

Here's my professional librarian self looking very busy in the old library just before we moved ...


And here's the building that we moved to ...


One year after the tailoring class, I left my corner office (the lovely ten foot window at the lower left) to become a school librarian. But that's another story.

Looking at the notebook now, I realize how much I had neglected my stitching at the time ...


By the way, it's important to note these were all tailoring techniques ... 

Underhand hemstitch

which can be somewhat different from needlework or embroidery, as in this cross stitch example ...



Although apparently a backstich is a backstitch, is a backstitch ...

These are the pages in their entirety, as captured on the scanner. Note that the white fabric is a loose woven linen and the blue fabric is a heavy felted wool ...













Including several pages that we obviously didn't get to in the one short day of the class ...




The last of which is most intriguing: a combination running and back stitch ...


I wonder how I might make use of that ...

13 comments:

Judy Martin said...

Fascinating Liz. Thank you for showing these photos of this treasure of a book.

In regard to the last stitch - the combination - back running running - this is a good one to use for hand sewing seams. Jude Hill uses it and so do I.
xx

Liz Ackert said...

Thanks again for inspiring this post ... I've always been tempted to replicate one of the historical hand-sewing instruction books.

Dana said...

There is something so compelling about hand sewing...a skill that has such a weight of history and practice behind it, but has lost its primary importance. It reminds me of the art of stabling horses. Once it was something everyone needed to know about and carry out to the best of their ability in order to keep their primary mode of transportation healthy. It included rules and rituals distilled from centuries of interaction between the species. The standards were high. People were employed. Now the necessity of horses in daily life has disappeared and stabling is an activity only niche enthusiasts need know. Still, a well-managed stable and an evenly hand-stitched seam are deeply satisfying experiences, for themselves and as a continuance of a long line of human activity.

Liz Ackert said...

An interesting conflation ... horses and stitches. To which I would add cooking from scratch ... although I confess my food gardening attempts have been less than stellar, so I can't claim that added dimension except for the occasional herb.

Heather said...

What a beautiful book you made! I like the quaint language of the text - and using Diderot as a reference.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

a compendious view...yes. The great satisfaction of looking at these pages...and the
simple but Complete presentation of that time....nothing glitzy, just real. Love this. Thank You

Liz Ackert said...

I'd like to make a slow cloth version someday ... how much fun would it be to document thread beads, invisible basting and all of the other innovations Jude has come up with? I wonder if she'd be interested ...

Liz Ackert said...

It's funny how much I now rely on the blog as a way to keep track of things that might otherwise gather dust and be forgotten. Is this misplaced reliance on technology, I wonder? Or will things that used to be lost now stand the test of time?
In any case, I'm finding it interesting to rediscover my young parent self as I watch my daughters growing into their own roles as parents.

Liz Ackert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saskia van Herwaarden said...

such a fascinating book, love it!

Liz Ackert said...

I do think one of my own creation, withy favorite stitches, would be fun to make for a wonderful ten year-old

Liz Ackert said...

My copy editor just pointed out "withy" should be "with my" ... oh the perils of having the backspace key next to the letter "m"

Liz Ackert said...

I was sorry to hear from Dee Mallon (Cloth Company in the KINDRED SPIRITS list) that Blogger was giving her a hard time posting the following comment:

"Anyway, I LOVE your tailoring book and the way it is meant to be used... and how it combined your book-side with your stitching side!"

Because it's a Google app, Blogger seems to do better when you sign in with a Google identity. However, if you prefer not to do that, please feel free to email me and I'll happily post any comments on your behalf.