Friday, March 13, 2009

More from Godey

The cool folks over at CRAFT designated March as Mending Month, and they're blogging all kinds of fantastic tips for making kids' clothes last longer and fixing holey socks and sweaters. Coincidentally, I found a fascinating article in my 1862 Godey (February) about mending and wanted to share tips from 1862 (photos are the best scans I could make without hurting my 150-year-old book -- sorry about the edges of the columns. Pages 2 and 3 of the article are at the bottom of the post).



My favorite bit of the class-conscious condescension found throughout the magazine is the following advice to a poor woman who receives a "gift of a lady's dress fully trimmed all over":

Would it be the wisest thing she could do to take and wear the dress just as she received it? If she did so, the probability is, that she would do those about her, as well as herself and her dress, a great injury. ... [S]undry unbecoming airs would be likely to creep over her. ... We should recommend, as a preferable course, that on receiving such a gift, all conspicuous and needless trimmings be taken off.


Most of the tips are still useful -- remake mother's dress into a dress for a little girl, or a man's suit can be cut down for a boy, but use the pieces as fabric without trying to incorporate old seams into new garments; buy quality fabrics to begin with because, "Cheap-bought slop-clothes are scarcely worth the time and trouble of remaking into anything."

Supposing the garment unpicked and brushed or washed, it should be well examined as to the thicker and thinner parts ... Much of the secret of the neat appearance of clothes made by tailors is in their flatly placing and pressing down all their seams by means of heated irons. The seams should be opened out ... damped, and smoothed by a hot iron before the lining is put in.


Make a rug by cutting cloth into .5"x2" strips and knit with string. "This is done by inserting the piece of cloth exactly at the middle, in the loop of the knitting, and drawing it in very tight" or by "sewing the strips of cloth on to a piece of old carpet." Stuff pillows with shredded waste yarn and fabric.

What mending tips did you learn from grandparents that you're bringing back?

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