September is National Sewing Month! “Sew” it “seams” we should take time to honor the history of sewing and celebrate those who enjoy this art form or craft. National Sewing Month was first celebrated in 1982 after President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation “in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our Nation.”
While sewing might imply the use of a sewing machine, it encompasses the many ways of stitching with thread and needle—garments, home décor, embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch, quilting, and all other forms of drawing a thread and needle through a medium. Sewing is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people from all walks of life throughout the world.
The art of sewing dates back to 25,000 B.C.E. when sewing was used to make clothing and shelter. Early materials consisted mostly of hides from animals and plant leaves. Thin strips of animal hide or long fibers drawn from plants made the first threads with bone and ivory being the first forms of needles. Thomas Saint is credited with the invention of the sewing machine in 1750 followed by Isaac Singer’s prototype in 1851 that was to become the basis for the mechanization of sewing and the standard for the modern sewing machines we have today. Prior to the 19th century, sewing was done by hand which allowed for perfecting skills as well as developing techniques for creative and decorative stitching.
Sewing has long been a favorite hobby of mine beginning with creations made with fabric scraps, thread, and needle for my dolls. After my great-grandmother taught me to use her treadle machine, I turned out creations in mass. As a 4-H member I enjoyed learning to use my mother’s electric machine and a pattern to fashion clothing for myself. Each year was a new project with new skills. That love of creating with fabric and a desire to understand fibers and fabrics led to my eventual college major. While I never worked in the textile industry as I once envisioned, the skills and knowledge have given me a hobby and creative outlet that I still enjoy today. And by joining with friends in guilds, I have learned and enjoyed many other forms of stitchery that have furthered by love of sewing.
My deep love of thread and needle did not take root in my children; however, they were each fascinated enough to learn the skill of sewing with a machine to sufficiently take care of themselves. Now I am sewing with my grandchildren who are intrigued with the creative process as they learn new skills.
While we may recognize the creative form of self-expression that sewing provides in the month of September, it is enjoyed all year. During this month, there is a long list of retailers, bloggers, organizations, and others that promote “sewing” in an attempt to renew interest, share ideas, inspire, and teach. If one was ever inclined to pick up thread and needle and try some form of sewing, the time to start is now. Creating quilts, clothing and other masterpieces not only develop new skills, but personal satisfaction, too. Sewing is a pleasurable activity to enjoy solo or with friends. Happy sewing!