I got some help from my daughter today, and tackled the wall of sewing books. This is by far my largest collection of books, since I inherited many of them, not only from my mom, but from a retired home economics teacher as well, who taught garment construction and textile science for more than 30 years. Her book collection from the 40’s and 50’s was incredible.
First, I managed to find a way to fit all the weaving, spinning and natural dyeing books on three shelves. Of course more are on their way from the Interweave Press hurt book sale, but I’ll figure that out when they arrive. I am impressed with my collection, and would be an amazing weaver if I actually read them! 🙂
But my sewing book collection, along with pattern design, draping, textile science, tailoring, and social issues in clothing (which is a really fun category I can assure you) is huge. On top of that, I have almost 15 years of Burda World of Fashion Magazine, which is a BIG magazine, and each issue contains all the patterns for some 30-40 garments contained in that issue. And I get it every month! (Thanks mom!) I took all the ones from 1995-2000, and discarded the actual magazine, and just kept the patterns. I may regret that decision, and it really didn’t make a huge difference, since most of the bulk was the patterns, but it was an attempt. They are all on the bottom shelf of the bookcase on the right, two deep on the shelves.
I also have my mother’s collection of clippings. She carefully cut all the Dale Cavanaugh and Eunice Farmer clippings from the evening papers, they use to have sewing columns, right along with Dear Abby, and my mother always clipped the articles. And years of sewing articles from Vogue Patterns Magazine, are in there as well. There are ten binders, plus one for all the unsorted clippings, they take up a huge amount of room. Right now they are perched precariously on the shelf in front of all the back issues of Sew News. (Along with my tension box for sectional warping, yes I know that isn’t a sewing tool…)
I found all sorts of wonderful things, including two copies of the original Singer Sewing Book from 1949, that had the wonderful quote that circulated around the internet for awhile. In case you missed it:
“Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you are going to do…never approach sewing with a sigh or lackadaisically. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates. Never try to sew with a sink full of dirty dishes or beds unmade. When there are urgent housekeeping chores, do these first so your mind is free to enjoy your sewing. When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Put on a clean dress. Keep a little bag full of French chalk near your sewing machine to dust your fingers at intervals.
Have your hair in order, powder and lipstick put on. If you are constantly fearful that a visitor will drop in or your husband will come home and you will not look neatly put together, you will not enjoy your sewing as you should.”
There is a lot more where that lovely wisdom came from, I can assure you. I also have this wonderful collection my friend Karen found for me. They are small books, only about 5″ x 7″. They are a series of books from the Woman’s Institute, of Domestic Arts and Sciences, Scranton, PA and they were copyrighted in 1924, and again in 1931. In the Harmony of Dress Volume, I especially liked the chapter on Restraining Garments! And then there is a wonderful pull out chart on Colors That May and May Not Be Worn by Blonde Types of Women! And I’ve made a wall chart from Table VI that gives a Guide to Correct Dress for Social Functions-All Seasons. I know I’ll be consulting this on a regular basis…
Seems this series was actually written by the founder of the woman’s institute, Mary Brooks Picken in Scranton PA . She authored 96 books on sewing and fashion, was the first woman trustee of FIT and a founder of Fashion Group who’s 60 years worth of fashion archives can be found at the NY public library. She also authored the Singer Sewing Manual from 1949, that contained the excerpt I quoted above. I got the bio from a blog I found, Not Enough Thursdays. I’m totally fascinated by this woman, Mary Brooks Picken, and her substantial influence in dress and social norms of the early part of the 20th century. I am anxious to do more research myself.
Along with all these archival wonders on my sewing book shelves, I had a couple of trophies. What does one do with trophies when they are no longer wanted and taking up too much space? Right now they are sitting on the floor in the hallway.
Side Bar: I got the smaller trophy as a first place award in 1971 for the High School History fair. I made a 30″ tall civil war soldier out of chicken wire and sewed a uniform for him. I don’t have the soldier any more, (though I actually haven’t looked in the attic, who knows…), but my dad took a slide of him and that was in my archival slide files! Ok, he is a bit creepy, and I made the hair from real human hair. But, I was only 16, and I did this completely on my own…
The other trophy I’ve held on to because I was really proud when I got it. I attended the award ceremony just before my High School Graduation in 1973, and I was given the principal’s award for outstanding citizenship, or something like that, all I knew was it was the biggest trophy on the table! Back then they gave trophies instead of money. So I’ve had this huge trophy all these years, stuck in the corner in my studio. It has shrunk somewhat over the years, partly due to my toddler son, who thought it was pretty and proceeded to break the upper section clean off it’s base. I managed to salvage some of it, but I think now that he has graduated HS, and I’m over 50, that it is time to retire this thing.
So do I throw it out? Is there any use for old trophies? I suppose I could take it apart and use the marble base for something. But I really just want it gone. Along with other lovely things I’ve saved for way too long, like my report cards from Catholic School in the 60’s. Do not begin to ask what possessed me to keep those. They are now in the trash can in my studio. It is time…