I told you I was being distracted from my ‘proper’ chores didn’t I? I hope you’re as pleased with the resulting cushion (both sides) as I am! It is destined to be a gift for one of Youngest’s friends.
I have both an O and an A level in Needlework. For the O level I had to make a garment (I made a halternecked evening dress) and a piece of craft work (I made an embroidered picture, hand and machine, of Noah’s Ark). The dress is long gone, but the picture lurks in a box in my sewing space. Then there were two exams, one written and one practical. I did OK and I loved to sew so I moved on to the A. For this I made a Viyella dress, a lined needlecord jacket, a macramé lampshade and a machine embroidered picture which still adorns my parent’s spare room. The practical required me to make a lined waistcoat which I found easy, but the written paper was a different matter. The knowledge required included home dressmaking, fabric types, soft furnishing construction and design, and the history of costume. I was rubbish at the history part and have an abiding memory of being asked for the history of the pocket in womenswear… and something about providing instructions for making all the soft furnishings in my new house…
I tell you this to help explain my reservations about Youngest’s plans to take the sewing option as her GCSE Design Technology subject. She won’t need to decide for another year, but I have a specific concern! For the first 3 years of secondary school they alternate the DT subjects and in the sewing terms they do 3 projects: they design and make a bug, a hat and a pair of shorts. That’s what Eldest did, and Youngest has done the bug and expects to make a hat next term.
At my secondary school we had been timetabled to do Needlework classes weekly regardless of stream – you could only cook in the C form! We made bags to hold our sewing, and Science rolls to hold our scalpel(yes, knives in school , as required kit!) and other tools. Lots of straight line machining, name taping, chain stitch embroidery and oversewing. Basic, dull and useful! We were taught to darn, mend a variety of tears and different methods of sewing seams. Then we smocked aprons with shell-edged strings for our mums. At last we chose garments to make for ourselves. As a boarder I spent two hours every Saturday morning in ‘mending’ where we sat around sewing on nametapes, darning socks and tights, sewing on buttons… All those things I now do for my girls and have completely failed to teach them.
There is no sign of anyone teaching them to sew at school either.