Sew much love
Is the art of hand-sewing a thing of the past?
People have been sewing nearly as long as humans have walked this earth. Bone needles were used to
stich animal skins together, followed by iron forged needles about 4,000 years ago. For thousands of
years, sewing was a necessary skill, and most of the sewing was performed by women. A young woman
who was proficient in sewing and cooking would make a “Good wife” as she possessed skills necessary
for survival. Mothers would insist that young girls spend their time embroidering a piece of cloth in
attempts to perfect their sewing skills. The girls would use a piece of canvas cloth and sew numbers,
alphabet letters, verses, and other simple images onto the fabric with thread made of wool or silk. The
finished pieces, called stitch samplers, were often sewn into a pillow or as a square of a much larger
quilt. Women would often stitch the date and name of each baby that was born, and record the date of
death onto fabric, these stitched pieces were sometimes the only evidence that a person existed.
Primitive stitch samplers, some dating back to the 1700’s, can be found in museums, historical societies,
estate sales and antique stores.
In our fast-paced modern world where everything is fast and easy, it is hard to understand why a young
girl would need to perfect her sewing stitches. Knowing how to sew clothing for the family was an
invaluable skill, as ready-made (store-bought) clothing was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford.
Until the invention of the sewing machine, hand-sewing was the only way to make quilts, clothing, bags,
and other necessary fabric items. The pedal sewing machine allowed for items to made faster and with
precise stitches and was a welcomed invention for homemakers. Thanks to the invention of the cotton
gin a few decades earlier, newer, larger, and more modern textile mills were being built. The availability
of fabric along with the new sewing machine allowed factories to be able to mass produce affordable
Today, sewing is more of a hobby as clothing, curtains, pillow, blankets, etc., are readily available and
affordable. Women no longer need to be proficient in sewing to successfully run their household, but
instead possess a wide range of skills. Sewing is nearly always done with a sewing machine these days to
make quilts or other crafty items. Hand-sewing is usually limited to replacing a button or hemming
pants, and not many know how, let alone possess a needle and thread. It is a bit wild to think that hand-
sewing was a necessity for centuries and has now become a rarely used skill and is considered a hobby.