What started off as a means of necessity has slowly evolved into more of a hobby for most people. Let’s have a look at how sewing has changed over the years.
Sewing was first used as a way to connect animal hides together for clothing or shelter. Before sewing machines were invented, all sewing was done by hand. In order to save money, many women would sew and mend clothing for their family. This could take up to 10 hours to make one dress alone! The industrial revolution then created a shift toward factory produced fabric and clothing. The invention of the domestic sewing machine allowed women to create clothing in far less time and automated looms made fabric more affordable. As ready-to-wear clothing has become more popular and inexpensive, sewing has become less of a necessity and more of a leisurely pastime for most people.
In the 1860’s Ebenezer Butterick and his wife Ellen Augusta Pollard Butterick, created multiple size, tissue paper patterns. At the time these patterns cost $0.25 to $0.75 cents each! As the popularity of these patterns grew many sewing pattern companies were created. These patterns were a cost effective way for many women to stay up-to-date with current fashion trends. As more women started to join the workforce, they had less time to sew and thus the demand for ready-made clothing increased, causing a decrease in pattern sales. As ready-to-wear clothing has become more affordable, the amount of pattern styles available has reduced considerably.
A variety of sewing machine related patents have come and gone since as far back as the 1800’s. After a variety of different versions of sewing machines came out, Isaac Merritt Singer set out to design a machine that combined all the best elements and improved on a few as well. This machine design was too similar to one created by Elias Howe, who initially sued Singer, but later joined in a conglomerate with him to create The Sewing Machine Combination. While sewing machines were initially sold to clothing manufacturers, they became common place in many homes as they became more affordable.
As people’s motivation for sewing has changed, the type of projects people are working on has changed as well. If people are making clothing often they are looking for a specific fit or unique style. Many people also sew clothing for special occasions such as graduation or a wedding. Gift type projects are also popular including aprons, placemats and quilts. As sewing projects have changed the fabrics available have as well. Many fabric stores carry a wide range of printed cotton fabrics, a variety of affordable basics, perfect for the home sewer.