Wandaful Quilts

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sewing in the 1950s...............

This is a page from my 1955 4-H project book.  This is why we sewed back then; it was cheaper than buying ready made clothes as well as they fit better.  Even though it only cost me $3.47 to make that dress, my babysitting pay was 50 cents an hour so that took me 7 hours of work to earn the money.  There was a page to list how many extra garments we had made that year and I made 15 extra ones.  I had only learned to sew one year earlier.  I spent most of my babysitting money on fabric.
Now that the banner is finished and ready to deliver I need to get busy and finish some other projects.  But first........some more busy work at night, sewing triangles together.

17 comments:

Robyn said...

Isn't it good to see some of these feminine designs coming back? We used to love twirling around so that the skirts could spin. Also, if we were really lucky, we would have a rope petticoat so that the skirt would stand away from the body - that was in the late fifties and early sixties.

Sewing Junkie said...

I made my own clothing and knitted my sweaters from babysitting money. I even made Winter coats for myself and sister. Chris

Tilkunviilaaja said...

Thank you for sharing! It must have been a lovely dress! It's great that you still remember your wages back then. Puts this into perspective.

Linda Swanekamp said...

Thanks for sharing. I tried making my own clothes when I was a teenager. I only knew how to sew from the pattern instructions, so it was hit or miss whether something fit. I wish someone had taught me how to fit a pattern and alter it. I guess that is why I am a piecer and quilter- my lack of 3D fitting doesn't matter!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

I grew up in the 60's and the babysitting pay was still 50 cents an hour in my area of WI. I too sewed my clothes as it was so cheap to do so. I remember taking apart a pleated wool skirt and having enough fabric to make a pair of pants with it. I used what I could and refashioned items into new items. Now I rarely make clothing - you do not save any money to do so and a lot of times you have to spend more to do it. My mother used to make all her maternity tops and they were so pretty - someone had posted something on that recently someplace I don't remember where.

Nancy said...

What fun that you've kept your 4-H records. What an outstanding organization it was, and is. It made me remember the annual Garment Review, a fashion show of 4-H members and their garments. I'm encouraged by the home sew fashion blogs I see- there is still interest.

Sylvia Anderson said...

Good morning Wanda....Would love to see a picture of you in one of the dresses you made. I think it's amazing that you made your own clothes, but do remember that style of clothing, since it was so popular when I was in high school. My mother never sewed, so it never interested me, and I was always busy practicing the piano every day for 2 to 3 hours, so there would not have been any time. I never learned to sew till I had a daughter in 56 and wanted to make clothes for her, and fortunately had a good friend who had grown up in a small town, lost her mom at an early age, and had been making her own clothes for years.
She is also the one who taught me to quilt and we have enjoyed their friendship for over 60 years.
No more sleeping with the windows open Wanda, not with all this 90 degree + weather coming in. It was so nice while it lasted though.
Have a good weekend.

Hedy Hahn said...

I remember when the dime store Newberry's would sell fabric 3 yards for $1.00 and I could make a dress from that. I became very good at putting in sleeves too. I made my wedding dress. And a few more for other people. Made all my maternity clothes and baby gowns. Now I don't sew any garments, but I still mend! It's amazing that you still had that information.

donaleen said...

I loved this peak into your past and look at the wonderful stories you inspired in the comments!

Sewing Up A Storm said...

I learned to sew in 4H as well. It has been a wonderful skill to have over the years. It was so much cheaper to make clothes back in the day and I loved that I could choose the color, pattern and such to really make it my own. These days I have taken to altering and remaking thrift store items into new clothes...........kinda a fun exercise to see what I can come up with that is unique and different.

dls said...

Thanks for sharing your 4H book…..loved seeing the cost of the project and that you spent your babysitting money on fabric…..would have done the same! Learned to sew by a great aunt who taught home ec. I have her Featherweight and table….it's one of the first machines I used while learning to sew.

Marie said...

Oh my gosh, that 4H book brought back memories. I don't remember that particular layout in our books but isn't it amazing that our love affairs with fabric began that early in life? My mom was a 4H leader for years so I remember all of our family (at one point there were 5 girls in 4H at the same time) would always be burning the midnight oil to finish our sewing projects because she had to help the other gals in the group first. :)

Cassandra said...

It is so much fun to see your old 4-H book entries. It is amazing how those books change so little over the years. I remember filling out the same general form with sketches, descriptions, and fabric swatches for my 4-H books in the 1980s and 90s. 4-H was founded in the area I grew up, so it was quite popular. Each year I was in 4-H there were around 450 clothing projects completed in a county with a population of less than 39,000.

Needled Mom said...

Wow...you were an expensive sitter! I had a steady 2 night a week job for one family with 8 children. I charged 25 cents and hour and never told them when I raised it to 35 cents because I was afraid I would loose the job!!!! I loved that family. Like you, most of my money went to my sewing as I made all of my own clothing.

fireweeddyeworks.com said...

So cool that you still have that project book!

I was born in 1955 and sewed my own clothing in the 60's because it was cheaper, as you said. I remember my mom buying a women's coat at the thrift store and refashioning it for me. Now I do this type of thing for fun, but back then it was a necessity. You are providing a good history lesson for young people; thanks!

judith lockhart said...

What an interesting post and thanks for sharing! I remember sewing clothes in the sixties and yes, it was a savings back then. That was how I began my adventure with needle and thread and have never stopped sewing since!!

The Calico Cat said...

Do you feel blessed or overwhelmed by having the artifacts of your youth?

My parent were divorced - along the way the ephemera of my childhood was lost. (Baby clothes used as shop rags, photos torn, etc.) My mother's items from her younger days were also discarded. Apparently when you move in a car across the country those aren't the items that you choose to take.

So the items that I have are minimal, as a result your treasure trove is an enigma to me.