Happy National Sewing Month, sewists! Whether you sew for a hobby or a business, you sew a lot or just a little, you've been doing it for years or you're just getting started... this month is dedicated to you! Read on for a history of National Sewing Month, a brief intro to how I got started sewing, and a few ways to celebrate this very special and obviously super important holiday.
Presenting: A Quick History of Sewing
September was declared National Sewing Month by Ronald Reagan back in 1982, marking a month-long celebration in recognition of how important sewing is as a skill.
Sewing as a skill dates all the way back to the Upper Paleolithic Age (we're talking as early as 25,000 B.C.E.!!) Animal hide and large plant leaves were used as fabric, needles were carved from ivory and bone, and very thin strips of hide were used as thread.
Fortunately, Thomas Saint invented the sewing machine in 1750, and Isaac Singer (sound familiar?) made some significant improvements in 1851. However, many sewists still preferred to sew by hand—albeit with significantly updated needles and thread! Even today, some sewists prefer to sew part (or all) of their projects by hand.
I will admit, I LOVE the look of hand quilting and big-stitch binding, however my hands do not appreciate it so I don't do it very often.
History of Our Favorite Brands
Brother Sewing Machines
Many people associate Brother with printers and label makers, but did you know they actually started out as a sewing machine company? It's true! Brother got their start repairing sewing machines in Japan in 1908. Back then, they were known as Yasui Sewing and Co. and became Yasui Brothers' Sewing Machine Co. when Masayoshi (the eldest of 10 children) inherited the company from his father, Kanekichi Yasui. You can read more about the history of Brother Industries on their website.
Janome Sewing Machines
In 1862 — not too long after Isaac Singer showcased some improvements on the sewing machine — William Barker and Andrew J. Clark debuted the "Pride of the West" sewing machine, which later became known as the "New England Single Thread Hand Sewing Machine." And since that's next to impossible to say five times fast, they eventually shortened the name to New Home — a combination of their two bestselling models, the New England and the Home Shuttle.
Meanwhile, Janome was building their brand in Japan. The name "Janome" literally means "snake's eye" in Japanese, an homage to the round, metal bobbin system that was growing in popularity over the traditional long shuttle. If you're wondering what New Home has to do with Janome — New Home faced some financial hardship in the 1960s, and Janome purchased the brand.
Fun fact: Janome was the first company to develop a computerized machine for home use (the Memory 7), the first to offer professional-style embroidery for home use (the Memory Craft 8000) AND they were also the first company to offer a long-arm quilting machine for home use. How innovative! If you want to read more about Janome's history as a company, you can check out their website.
How I Got Started Sewing
Like many sewists, I learned to sew as a young kid. I distinctly remember playing on my mom's Kenmore 12 Stitch in the basement, using scraps of old Halloween costumes.
I fondly remember getting in sh*t for cutting in the MIDDLE of a large piece of fabric, rather than near the edge. I was notorious for pulling fabric out, spreading it all over the floor, and then walking away from my huge mess. And I also strongly recall being absolutely terrified to be down in the basement by myself, because the sewing machine was near the furnace (and the basement wasn't developed, which made it extra spooky).
Since I'm a millennial, I was able to take sewing as part of Home Ec in high school, where I learned the hard way not to sew over pins. (Seriously. Don't do it. I shattered a pin and the needle, and nearly took a metal shard to the eye.)
Finally in the 2010s, I started quilting. My paternal grandmother was in the process of making quilts for each of the grandkids, and around the same time, my mom decided to take a quilting class with some of her friends. All of a sudden, I was hooked. I scrolled Pinterest and Flickr for ideas, and dove right in.
I made a few quilts off and on, but my fabric stash and idea boards were overflowing. In 2019, I decided I was going to start sewing more regularly, and my husband encouraged me to start a blog, which quickly turned into an Instagram page and then an Etsy shop.
Now that we're set up in our home in Texas, I've got a dedicated sewing room and quilts from one end of the house to the other. Flying Goose Studio re-opened in July, and I'm incredibly excited to see where this journey will take me!
Ways to Celebrate National Sewing Month
Looking for a few ways to celebrate, beyond just working on some projects? Here are some great ideas!
- Visit your favorite local fabric or quilt shop. Local quilt shops are a great way to connect with other sewists, and who doesn't love wandering around to pet fabric?
- Plan and make some handmade gifts. The holiday season is right around the corner, so if you're planning on making some handmade gifts, it's time to get started! Why not stitch a stocking or handmade bag for someone?
- Sew for a good cause. Connect with a local non-profit and see if there's a way you can contribute through sewing. Many organizations would be happy to receive such a thoughtful gift.
This year's theme is all about sewing sustainably. The National Sewing Month website has some great ideas for improving the sustainability of your sewing projects. You can also check out some great sewing project ideas on their website.
That's all from me for today! I hope you learned at least one thing, and that you're feeling inspired to start a new project (or finish something that is in the works!). Struggling with your sewjo? Curious to see how my sewing room is laid out? Sign up for my email list and stay up to date with the latest news, products, and discounts from Flying Goose Studio!