If you’re female and reading this, do you remember taking a class in junior high where we learned how to use sewing machines? As I recall, “Clothing” was mandatory for all eighth-grade girls. I remember sewing a lot of my clothes in those days.

Here’s a little history of sewing in America:

In 1963, American women spent a record $1 billion on sewing—including patterns, fabric, notions, and sewing machines. By 1964, the average age of the home sewer was 25 years younger than in 1940. Between 1960 and 1968, the amount of clothes sewn at home increased by 50 percent.

By the 1970s, the overall sewing numbers are down (44 million women and girls sew in 1974—8 million less than in the 1950s), but the back-to-basics idea of making something with your own hands appeals to a generation of young women fed up with mass consumerism.


By the 1980s, we started buying more and more ready-made clothes, but fiber arts become an area of interest, however, and the art world begins to look at quilting as a relevant form of artistic expression.

1990s through today: A 1997 Home Sewing Association survey put the number of American women sewing at about 30 million. By 2006, that number was 35 million. Sewing is booming again, thanks in large part to the Web (especially sites like Etsy) and the DIY/eco-chic movement.

We’ve previously written posts about seamstresses in our class: Jan DeJaegher and Carla Robinson Pollard (“Fabric Artists“) and that was about the time we also heard that Susan Parker Easley (“Married for life“) was looking forward to getting home and sewing. Since then she has been quilting up a storm, and was happy to share her creations with us.

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Sue Parker Easley and John Easley, her husband of 48 years.

Sue writes, “Most of these quilts are from kits, so somebody else picks the fabrics, but I do have a lot of fun sewing them together. My biggest problem is remembering to take pictures of them before they leave the house… Mostly I sew for pleasure, so if you receive one of the quilts it is usually for a special occasion. My husband complains I do all that work and then I give it away, so now I am taking pictures so I remember what they look like. Most of the smaller wall hangings are on the wall in my workroom.”

Beautiful work, Sue!

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3 responses »

  1. Darlene Carothers Lovell says:

    Clothing class at John Muir Jr High I remember very well, 54 years ago, I was 13 years old…I believe our teachers name was Miss Hawkins and her classroom was upstairs. It was during this class when we girls were told that President John F Kennedy was assassinated, November 22, 1963. I remember the teacher was very upset and our world as we knew it then, just stopped. There is a picture of the “Clothing Club” in the 1964 Highlander!
    Thankful for learning how to sew during those years:) Darlene Carothers Lovell

    • Katherine Crosier says:

      Wow, Darlene, you heard “The News” about President Kennedy in Clothing class. For me, it was in Mrs. Rankin’s English class. We were in 8th grade, and a monitor came to the room. Mrs. Rankin read the note, took off her glasses, and then put her hands over her face. I’ll never forget it. Kathy Au Crosier

  2. trkingmomoe says:

    I was in sophomore gym class when we were told about JFK. I taught myself to sew when I was young. So by the time I got to high school I was making everything I wore. I was in Catholic school until high school so I didn’t have home ec. In high school is was not mandatory. I have several sewing machines and still sew often. I don’t make many clothes for myself but for the grand kids. I have restored and given away many machines in the recent years to young moms who are learning to sew. You know it don’t take a high level of skill to make elastic waist shorts and pants for kids but it does save money. Nice blog.

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