Did Some Sewing

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, July 24, 1913:  Did some sewing today.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Hmm. . . “Sewing”  is such a general term.  Did Grandma do it by hand or did she use a treadle sewing machine? What kind of sewing did she do?

Mending? . . .  or Patching?

Source; The Dressmaker (Butterick Publishing Company, 1911)

Sewing a new dress?

Source: Ladies Home Journal (June, 1912)


25 thoughts on “Did Some Sewing

  1. You’re right: it could have been handwork or by machine. I’m fortunate to have the old Singer treadle machine that has been in my family for years!

    1. You are so fortunate. I can remember that Grandma had a treadle machine in her attic when I was a child. I have no idea what ever happened to it.

  2. That is a beautiful singer, Sheryl, is it yours? I really admire those sewig and handcrafting skill from earlier times. But sometimes I wonder what live would have been for those less talented? How would their wardrobe look?

    1. Unfortunately it’s not my Singer. I wish that I had one like it.

      You’re right–some people probably were much more talented than others at making clothes and they probably looked much more “polished” than those who were less skilled. I tend to have two thumbs when it comes to sewing–thank goodness I can just go to the store and buy lovely outfits.

  3. I wonder if she did have one of those wonderful old treadle machines? Or we could picture her sitting with her sisters, like in a Jane Austen book, mending or doing their embroidery together, as they gossiped about the latest events of the town. Either way, it’s a lovely old-time image. :)

    1. I can remember Grandma having a treadle machine in her attic when she was an older woman. I don’t know for sure whether her family had one when she was writing this diary–though there have been several diary entries where Grandma wrote about her mother making a dress, so I’d guess that they had one.

  4. I wonder? Probably wasn’t an easy job on one of those treadle machines. I was given one as a birthday gift from my ex-husband. But when we divorce it just reminded me of him so I sold it. They’re really cute though.

    1. I’d have gotten rid of it, too. Some items get attached in our memories to certain people, and it’s impossible to see the item without thinking of that person.

  5. *sigh* Wish I could sew. I bet 18 year-old Helena would find it weird that a lot of teens nowadays can’t sew. Seems like most women (and men, for that matter) of the early 1900s knew at least the basics.

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