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Chic Weekly an on-line Fashion & Sewing Magazine.


a new article every Monday about Sewing & Fashion

Article 49 - Sept 19, 2011
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Sewing in the Digital Age

Sewing in the digital age.

By Jessica Lynn Harris

     Digital technology has not just given sewers lighter weight machines with more embroidery options (although those are great advantages!): the internet has made knowledge more easily accessible and has forever changed how people research, learn, and interact with media. And it has not forgotten one of the oldest trades, dressmaking and home sewing. 

     While patterns are still sold by the same companies that have been successful for generations, they are also now available for purchase online. And the internet has opened access to smaller, less-known pattern-makers in niche communities. But better than these advances is the fact that now, patterns, instructions, and tutorials are more readily available than ever, and many of them are free if you know where to look.  

     Traditionally, sewing was a skill taught from master-to-apprentice, mother-to-daughter, a word of mouth trade learned by experience and the tutelage under a skilled craftsperson. (Of course, for many years there have been books on sewing for beginners and more experienced alike, but that less people have been taught solely or mostly by books.) 

     What I hear most women say when talking about sewing is that “my grandmother sews” (or sewed) but the many of the next generation, the late-end boomers and Xers--the generation of parents today-- somehow missed out on this skill-set. While it was taught in home economics class, few seem to have continued with the craft to made it a hobby or priority.  

     Partly, this is became home sewing became less useful. Increasingly clothing companies outsourced their labor to other countries, and consequentially they were able to charge customers much less for their products. As a result, sewing one’s own and family’s clothes was no longer cost effective. Additionally, women started taking on non-traditional roles in the workforce, and spent less time as homemakers and child caregivers, leaving less time for home sewing, and with sewing having little relevance to their lives. 

     Because dressmaking, construction, and fashion design is a visual and physical skill, it’s much more difficult to learn from a book than from an instructor. So when sewing and design skips a generation or two and is barely (or not at all) covered in the public school system, it is safe to say home sewing would continue to fade into obscurity. 

     Strangely enough, digital advances have helped change the conditions for a home sewing revival. People who want to learn no longer need a personal tutor. Videos streamed from Youtube and personal blogs explain in detail how to execute various techniques. Step-by-step photographed instructions show clearly how to make a wide variety of projects--from quilts, to freehand dresses and clothes, to plushie crafts and pet costumes (like on this site!). There are now even open source sewing patterns available online through the website BurdaStyle, which allows viewers to share patterns (professionally drafted or otherwise), ideas, and instructions, and view and print others’ work. And all of these things are free. 

     One positive aspect of the economic downfall and high unemployment rate is that people can once again discover the value and pleasure in self reliance. I’m not saying these times aren’t difficult and on occasion miserable. But hopefully, with more information than ever readily available (on not just sewing but all sorts of trades and hobbies) we can understand better than ever how things are made, and that we can make them. Right now, we have the perfect opportunity to chose quality over quantity and learn to handcraft objects--both utilitarian and artistic--ourselves. We have the means of sharing our skills with our community and the world, of teaching things and being taught with out worrying about the price.


Chic Weekly: on-line Fashion & Sewing Magazine
Founder & Publisher: Judi Harris
Editor in Chief: Jessica Lynn Harris
Art & Photo Editor: Andrew DiMaio
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copyright 2010 - 2011 Love To Sew Studio
Article 49 Sept 19, 2011




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