Saturday, September 07, 2013

Home Economics

Apparently I would have really loved home economics class in the 1950s!
My mom scooped up these two home economics textbooks for me at Value Village for $3 each, and I've been enjoying reading through them. Clothing Construction by Evelyn A. Mansfield was published in 1953 and covers various sewing techniques.  Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning by Dora S. Lewis, Mabel Goode Bowers, and Marietta Kettunen is from 1957. It teaches information about personal style and grooming, wardrobe design, warbrobe planning and budgeting, clothing care, and careers in fashion in addition to sewing techniques. Nowadays schools just don't focus on teaching tips on manners, charm, or style, and sewing has become a largely foreign skill. That's what makes these vintage books very thrilling reads, as they are filled with common sense that is no longer common. That being said, it's interesting to see which perspectives and practices within the books have stood the test of time, because there are of course a few. Personal grooming practices are quite different, but the way that people hem a dress today--well, for the people who hem dresses today--is the same way they did it 60 years ago!
Between the two books there are some hilariously cute illustrations as well as solid information on fabrics.

One of my favourite sections is the information about matching hair, eye, and skin coloring to coordinating hues to find the perfect palette for a personal wardrobe.  
There are also step-by-step sewing instructions for basic garments.
It's too bad home economics has predominately faded from the curriculums, but that's why I love thrifting. Finding these books has allowed me to learn these lessons anyway--bits of wisdom from the past that I can apply to my artistic endeavours!
I think this simple attitude lesson is particularly valuable. Now, I can't help but wonder what the students of days gone by would have thought of me voluntarily reading their textbooks...

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