Call for ‘Sewing Stories’

Barbara Burman, editor of The Culture of Sewing: Gender, Consumption and Home Dressmaking (Berg 1999), recently got in touch and asked us to share her call for ‘sewing stories’:

I am undertaking research for a book about plain sewing. It is often a Cinderella practice overlooked in favour of the more glamorous craft of embroidery and using the needle in expressive art, although some makers move easily between the decorative, the plain and different forms of art practice. The aim is to show that plain sewing has an important social and cultural place of its own in the modern world, for individuals and for wider reasons.

As part of the book’s approach, I am collecting ‘sewing stories’, via a simple Word document invitation with prompts, to people to write down how they feel about sewing, what they do, where they do it, who for, how it relates to other things they care about, if they dream about it and so on. 

Your personal stories are valuable and will make an important contribution, helping to illuminate and enrich these broader issues. Plain sewing is practical but at the same time it can resonate with our emotions, well-being, memory and sense of community. What motivates women and men to sew? Is it utilitarian, economic, creative, thrifty, soothing, problematic? Or a combination of these? What gives it meaning and significance for you or is it a dreary chore? Plain sewing covers dressmaking, mending, recycling/upcycling, home furnishings, really anything that is functional and not embroidered or totally decorative. Or whatever you think it is.

Please follow the link to download the full Sewing Stories Invitation document and feel free to forward to any friends or participant groups who might also be interested.

If you would like to respond, send the completed form to by 30 September 2020.

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