Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Home Economics Sewing Book Review

Sew A Fine Seam 
by Violet Wilson
Balfour Technical School
Regina, Saskatchewan
Illustrations by Margaret Messer

  Finding this Home Economics sewing textbook from 1955 was like finding buried treasure. This book was written by my mother's Home Ec, teacher and illustrated by the art teacher at the same school. I found it at an antique book shop complete with the previous owner's signature and her receipt for the book. Lois Bristol, if you're out there I have your Home Ec. sewing book! She like almost everyone of her day had incredible penmanship. A technique I unfortunately did not pick up.
 "Sew A Fine Seam" is simply and beautifully illustrated with incredible lithographs. Lines are smooth, colours are simple and the pics just say "hey it's the 50's!", and I love it. The illustrations are easy to understand when giving descriptions.

 Written for grade 9 girls, this book is incredibly complete covering all aspects of garment sewing including how to identify fabrics,designing for body types, colour choices, fitting, altering, and tailoring. One of the most interesting pages found at the beginning of the book is about using the "Burning Test" to identify fabrics. You can tell if a fabric is a mix by unravelling crosswise and lengthwise threads and using the "burn test" by burning the threads individually in a porcelain dish. The odor, ash or speed of burn will tell you what kind of textile you have.

"Sew A Fine Seam" is easy to read and follow for the beginner. I only took grade 8 home ec. However our teacher never showed up half the tme. I was sick for a while and the teacher gave me a "D" for done since I had missed so many classes. Though my work was better than most in the class, she thought my mother did my sewing. So with all the uninspiring events I decided not to take Home Ec. in high school for fear of being labeled little Susie homemaker. Sounds weird but that's what happened. I felt it was far beneath my scientific mind. Looking back, if I was really that smart, I would have taken it for now I find myself in need of the skills that would have been taught. So far I haven't found a book that is its equal written for today with such comprehensive content. The reason for my interest in sewing books was that I had wanted to start making clothes for my bears and wanted a professional finished look. "Sew A Fine Seam" gave me a deeper understanding of the basics of fabrics, sewing and tailoring. This is a must read for those who would like to start sewing or even altering their own clothes. 
 My next sewing book review will be on hierloom sewing. If you have a suggestion for a sewing book review or just have suggested reading for me, just email me or make a comment on this post. I am particularily interested in older text books. Do you still have your Home Ec. sewing book? Tell me about it.


  1. Hello Sue!
    I have treasures like this, too.
    Thank you!
    Hugs, Irina

  2. Sorry Irina. I just saw that I had your comment sitting waiting for me. Sorry it took so very long to respond! Thanks for the comment.
    Tell me about your books!