Monday, 25 July 2011

My Crafty Life Part One

On and off now, for a few weeks whenever I get the chance, I've been working on a collection of pages about the things I have made over the years. When I realised I had five I thought - do something new for you Sian and blog them through the week. So, starting today, here they are.

My crafty life started, I think, as soon as I could hold a pair of scissors. Before I went to school my favourite thing to do was cut out Paper Dolls. Not the ones from my Twinkle comic, though; they were too nice to cut up. Funny, I say the same thing about paper now.


My Grandma taught me to knit when I was about five; I made a scarf for Ted Fred, then a little grey woollen satchel. It gave me a headstart when it came to school needlework lessons.

Oh, now there's a subject close to my heart. Why isn't it taught anymore? The Small One is the only girl in her class who can sew on a button. And that's not right. I know sewing isn't for everyone; but those lessons taught us more than practical skills. They taught us about sharing, about bonding, about girl power. For an hour a week the boys disappeared. The clever teachers knew how to gather us round and draw us out. How to get us to talk about school and friends and family while we sewed. Our P7 teacher told us lots of things girls our age needed to know. It's not done like that now; and I think we've lost something there.


We made things too, of course. A knitted "dorothy bag". whatever that was. A Liberty Print smock. (It was the seventies. Wish I had that fabric now.) A chunky ribbed hat and scarf. A needlecase. A rag doll. Some of it was unravelled, ripped out, crumpled up; but all of it was proudly displayed at the end of the year.

By the time I left Primary School I had a gypsy skirt I actually wore, a row of Girl Guide badges I had sewed on by myself; and a love of everything I could make by hand. I want that now for our girls today. Let's bring back sewing lessons! Let's do it all over again!

Tomorrow, my teenage years

39 comments:

Jimjams said...

Fabulous post - and so true. I can remember cross stitch samplers and lessons in backstitch in my second year at Primary. Knitting bootees by the final year - never did get the hang of tension though, so the baby was probably in the final year of Primary himself before they fitted! Making my own summer dresses was a cinch by Secondary school.

helena said...

We all learnt to knit at school - boys too but sewing was just the girls - but no cosy chats like you had. Bizzare that sewing is not taught anymore - mending and sewing on buttons is so useful - at the very least.

My first sewing was sitting on a stool next to my mum while she was on the sewing machine when I was 2 - I had a piece of tapestry fabric and wool on a big (unsharp) needle and I 'made pretty pictures'. Unfortunately they were destroyed when my parents house flooded in the 1980s.

Looks like I have the material for some pages too - great idea

looking forward to the other 4 posts in the theme

Annie xx TheFeltFairy said...

I love how you sit me down and tell me the story - you write so well it is always a pleasure tovisit you Sian x

Wanda said...

My domestic arts training was close to disastrous. I remember cutting out each side of a dress pattern individually. I didn't realize that you were supposed to cut through two layers. To say that the stripes on that dress didn't match would be a huge understatement!

scrappyjacky said...

Great post,Sian....but I'm afraid our sewing lessons weren't like that....I wish they had been.....I hated every moment of them....and don't think I learned anything.
Some of the schools I work in now have 'after school' stitching clubs....and they are great.

alexa said...

Love your reminiscences and your page - a great reminder that a good experience of crafting early sets a tone for a lifetime. I remember making gingham aprons with cross-stitch decoration for cookery, a bag for our PE gym shoes ... saved our Mums a lot of time and kept us all on an equal footing. Yep, those were the days ... Sigh!

Cheryl said...

beautiful reminiscing, as always, from you. I so enjoy reading your blog! also love your little series of things. you really are inspiring me to use more journalling on my pages.

Amy said...

In my youthful ignorance I used to get really frustrated at being pigeon-holed into a sewing category or a woodwork category based on gender ... at our secondary school everyone did everything, it was quite interesting seeing some of the girls at work on a lathe, and equally interesting seeing some of the boys working out how to make a cake!
I was certainly the sporty type and did not pay enough attention during some of those classes - entirely to my own detriment now.

Amy said...

I need to add, interestingly enough, one of by brothers in law attended a very exclusive boys boarding school - he now boasts he can sew and ballroom dance!

Scribble Monster said...

Yes, Sian your writing is so welcoming and inclusive. I shall look forward to the rest of the posts.

I used to feel quite stressed and uncomfortable in 'domestic science' classes, they weren't like you describe :( I quite agree that we haven't got the balance right with our curriculum by a long, long way.
Our local craft shop does do children's sewing classes though.

Jen xx

Cheri said...

and the schools here are totally lacking in teaching ANYTHING related to daily life and living - everything is geared to standardized testing and getting the kids to pass... no child left behind... bah!

I didn't have any of that in grade school, but we did have gender based classes (home ec or shop) in junior high and high school. Luckily, I learned crafts of all kinds at home!

Clare said...

I love how your posts set you thinking about subjects you might not have done otherwise. My crafty beginnings were very much learnt from my family members too - not sure the attempts at embroidery at school onto Binca (remember that!) added much to my knowledge though!

Jo said...

Great post and lovely layout. I'll join your campaign to bring back sewing classes, I love mine

Becky said...

Oh how I agree with you Sian! I loved needlework lessons at school and my Mum taught me to knit. Although I hate to sew up hems and sew on buttons at least I can do it! I much prefer to sew for pleasure though, cross stitch, tapestries, dolls, clothes for dolls and of course knitting, which I loved to do before I got tennis elbow! Now I can only knit for a short burst before it flares up, so that has had to go on the back burner! Love your post, really made me remember my sewing lessons at both junior and senior school :)

Deb @ Paper Turtle said...

Lovely post, Sian! xo

I started sewing/stitching/crafting at a early age too, and I agree that the act of teaching our girls some basic sewing principles is a dying art. I learned to sew at home first, then in sewing class at school. I love your idea of sharing your crafting history on your blog!

Karen said...

Lovely post Sian. I too started sewing and knitting at an early age and only wished that Gracia had wanted to do the same but she had a little journey into hand crafting and decided that, on the whole, it's not for her. I have just finished a cross stitch lunchtime club at school and was so surprised that both boys and girls really enjoyed making their bookmarks.

Jennifer said...

Lucky you with sewing in school!! I never even got to do sewing in the one year I took Home Economics. We did have an older lady from the community come in and teach us how to crochet in grade 4. That was fun! On a happy note, my DD#2 had a teacher in elementary school who started a lunch time X-stitching club. DMC has tried to generate interest in stitching with the younger generation but it has failed. This information according to a X-stitch shop owner in Victoria, Canada who says that his clients are a dying generation, literally. I wonder how this interest can be started again. At least knitting has made a come back. Great LO and that you are telling the story of your crafty life!

Alison said...

My grandFATHER taught me to sew...neither my mum nor Gran were handy with a needle! Mum did teach me to knit though. I don't remember much needlework being taught at Primary School and I HATED Home Ec at secondary school....great post and LO Sian!
Alison xx

debs14 said...

I agree with you that they need to bring back sewing lessons where you actually learn how to do things that will come in useful one day! My needlework lessons were all about making your own clothes, first a cookery apron for Domestic Science lessons and then a pleated netball skirt from what I recall. Swiftly followed by baby doll pyjamas and then 'proper' dressmaking - ah, happy memories! Knitting and crochet were something you were taught by your mum at home.

Margaret said...

Well, I am probably not as adept at crafting as the rest of you, but I CAN sew on a button, and I agree that it is a vital skill that both boys and girls should learn, but if they don't even learn to cook anymore, I guess it shouldn't surprise us that they don't learn to sew.

Abi said...

so lovely sian. I have never had sewing lessons. My mum has taught me everything. It is such a shame as so many people my age are just amazed that i can sew my own clothes! very useful skill to have. xxx

Amanda said...

Ah how your post today brought back some happy memories not least remembering that I too had the Twinkle comic. I loved my sewing lessons at Primary school and went on to take 'O' level Needlework, probably something else that doesn't exist anymore. I think I've told you this before but when I asked my primary school aged niece did she do sewing at school she told me 'No it's far too dangerous!' How things change and sometimes not for the better.

Sandra said...

Well I didn't realise they didn't teach needleworkk anymore. Goodness that's just silly. I remember even being taught how to iron properly at school!

What a wonderful layout.

Clair said...

Ooh. I am really looking forward to seeing something like this pop up every day this week! x

JulieJ said...

I think you would approve of my daughter's school. They made hand puppets this year (Yr 2) by sewing felt shapes together. Now she wants to sew more. She helped me with the yoyos for her Easter bonnet and I recently bought her a cross stitch kit, which she is doing quite well at. Her knitting is a different matter - it constantly needs rescuing.
Oh and paper dolls - second only to Barbie. If you ever want to come and play..........

Melissa said...

What a cute layout and a wonderful way to preserve the story of your crafty life.

I took HomeEc in junior high school and actually sewed a few things. As a young adult, I even made my own dress (once!). Don't know why I never got the sewing or quilting bug - probably because I could always ask someone else in the family to sew/quilt it for me, but I can sew on a button!! :>)

Bubbles said...

Wonderful post! Both my grandmums, as well as my great garndmother and my "second mum" Doreen all tried to teach me to knit... I actually do quite well now I'mm all grown up *lol* and even make up my own patterns.
You'll be pleased to know that ALL my children are more than capapble of sewing on a button, They don't actually sew on buttons - or anything else for that matter... but they do know how to do it *lol*

Lisa said...

great post of course. Such a lovely thing to document and a great idea for a series of pages. The design of the page is nice with the photo taking centre stage and the journalling all around it - need to try that. The mini cluster on the left is perfect.

My mum taught me to sew when I was five and I never looked back. I was also taught to knit but have never really been successful at it! (jumpers four feet long etc etc!) but sewing was always a passion. They tried to destroy that in school (!) and then in grammar school, there was nothing they could teach me so I just did my own thing and was bemused at some of the other girls' floundering - it's such second nature for me that it's hard to understand why people have such problems with it - but then again, I can't do mental arithmetic so it's all relative isn't it? I think it's terribly sad that children today aren't taught the basics like this (no time at home or school) and consider it a life skill, like running a home, cooking, driving and today, touch-typing.

Thanks for giving us food for thought.

Angelfish said...

Sadly my primary school needlework lessons were nothing like yours and at High school were disastrous, as you may remember from Storytelling Sunday!
I went into my daughter's class to help with sewing, but they provided safety scissors to cut rhe fabric and blunt bodkins, so the children's enthusiasm soon turned to frustration. I made sure I went equipped with proper needles and sharp scissors the next time!
Looking forward to tomorrow's installment:)

JO SOWERBY said...

i learnt to sew and embroider at school. my mum taught me how to make dresses at home but i made a waistcoat at school. my mum still has the aida embroidery pieces we had to make at her house,
jo xxx

Maria Ontiveros said...

Great post Sian. I loved learning counted cross-stitch and still have some of the things I made. I loved that last summer my sister taught my daughter how to sew a bit. "Home economics" is co-ed now, and they all make pillows (as well as learn a little about cooking). But there's also a girls-only knitting club that meets once a week or so at the elementary and middle school. Clara visited a few times.
Rinda

Lizzie said...

Fab post, Sian! I like the scrap page to go with it too.
I was at all-girls schools, so didn't see if the boys learned to sew (!).
However, some primary schools do teach sewing as part of the Design & Technology syllabus. I used to help with D&T at DS' Lower School. They made embroidered (simple x stitch) mats and hand puppets. I do agree though, that general sewing skills should be taught. Not sure that you could separate out the girls and boys for this now (boys used to do "woodwork" I presume). Modern education policy is required to be "Inclusive", which means girls & boys should have the same opportunities (prob. why not much sewing is taught!!). Tomorrow, I'm off to my elder niece's house - to teach her sewing! She wants to make clothes for her babies, but can't use a sewing machine yet. She learned basic sewing at school - made cushion covers and stuff - but can't sew a seam on a machine and has no idea how clothes are constructed. It is rather sad really.
I am glad though, to see there is a return to the various needlework arts - hand and machine sewing, knitting and crochet etc. I bought Niece-no1 a couple of fabulous sewing books for her birthday. It's definitely "come back into fashion"!
I'll be reading your feature all week, Sian - I love to see and read about your creative adventures!

Sian said...

Ah, I think the all-girl school background gives a different perspective, maybe? I was at a mixed school, and an hour a week without the boys was a welcome relief! Our chats with our teacher really helped us to learn to bond with our own sex and I think that could still be very useful today. Might stop some girl /girl bullying if we were taught to get on with each other at an early age.

Ginger said...

I don't think it would hurt Sian. As for me, my mom is an excellent seamstress but I never learned how to sew... At the time I was interested in learning she was not interested in teaching... I think she had taken a bit of a break from it... I still want to learn and keep meaning to look for local sewing classes :)

I Loved to play with cutout dolls!! My grandma would buy them for me... I wish I still had them to look at :)

Sandie said...

I agree Sian, basic skills are not taught at school and your description of sitting with the teacher chatting and sewing is just what so many children need. I was a Brown Owl for 20 years and was amazed and how few children could sew or knit. At work I have had young women ask me to sew on their button because they haven't got a clue how to do it for themself. That special time of sitting together & learning a skill is sadly missing from school & many family homes.

Carmen said...

and cooking lessons too, they need to bring those back! My girls love both but it's down to me to teach them and it's a bit like the blind leading the blind! *g*

Gail said...

Wonderful layout Sian. I remember we had "home economics" in grades 7 & 8 - some cooking and sewing. I was terrible at the sewing and dropped it as soon as I could. Wish now I'd stayed with it - I can't put a zipper in for anything. As for knitting that's a different story - my Mum taught me when I was 4 but for a few years she had to do the casting on and off for me. Love your idea of sharing your crafting history, I'm looking forward to reading them.

S said...

Oh, great post Sian, can't wait to read the next installments. I can sew a little by hand, buttons and hems and such. My mom always meant to teach me and my sisters to sew, even buying us sewing books, but there was never time. Hmmm, this brings to mind a story I could share some Sunday.

Gem's Crafts said...

What a fantastic series of posts! I've just read them all in one go, having a catch up on blogging :)

I remember having sewing lesson when I was in Year 3 of Primary School. I made a pink chequered apron. I still don't sew nowadays though, although have done cross-stirch in the past. If anything needs doing, M or my mum do it for me!

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