Hand Stitching

hand·stitch: verb (used with object) to stitch or sew by hand

handstitch charles bownesSewing or stitching has been done by hand for thousands of years. The earliest sewing used sinew for thread and needles made of bone.

On sewing, Wickipedia reports:

“The world’s first sewing machine was patented in 1790 by Thomas Saint.  By the early 1840s, other early sewing machines began to appear. Barthélemy Thimonnier introduced a simple sewing machine in 1841 to produce military uniforms for France’s army; shortly afterward, a mob of tailors broke into Thimonnier’s shop and threw the machines out the windows, believing the machines would put them out of work. By the 1850s, Isaac Singer developed the first sewing machines that could operate quickly and accurately and surpass the productivity of a seamstress or tailor sewing by hand.”

Even though Singer sewing machines had been developed eighty years before these quilt squares were created in Athelstan, they were still not a common household item. A few families had a sewing machine as evidenced by the few squares with machine stitching. With the 1934 economy in this rural agricultural community, the machines were most likely a treadle, although they were possibly an early electric model.

hand stitch deliliah ruscoMost of the squares in this set of thirty were stitched by hand. There was a quilt guild in Athelstan and traveling to guild meetings was definitely easier with a small sewing basket that included hand needles, thread, pattern pieces, fabric and a current stitchery project. Many women took pride in the neat, even stitches on their quilts.

Have needle; will travel. Today I’m remembering the labor of love that these young girls and women made, stitch-by stitch-by stitch.

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