Paying Homage to High School Home Ec

Growing up, I used to sew a lot of my clothes.  Even as an adult I made clothes for myself as well as my kids.  Since I have been spending so much time quilting over the past several years, I haven’t done any garment sewing for a long while.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I started sewing when I was in 7th grade. My mom taught me to use the sewing machine and cut a pattern out. Because I went to a small parochial school through 8th grade I didn’t have any home economics classes during junior high school.  Once I got to high school we had all sorts of Home Ec options. I took them all. Let’s face it.  Home Ec was an easy elective. I loved to sew and this class beat Spanish, History, Math and English any day. My sewing teacher was fussy, really fussy (or at least she seemed like it to 15 year old me). She was forever making me rip seams out and fix my errors. The nerve!  I suppose she had to be tough on me. I was a lazy seamstress. I can remember, on multiple occasions, sewing the sleeves in the armholes backward.  The pattern companies try very, very hard to help the seamstress avoid doing this by clearly marking the sleeves with those small and large arrows.  Match the arrows and you are golden.  Sloppy cutting leads to a vague arrow and, hmmmm, which one matches to which?  More than once (probably more than five times!) I got it wrong,  resulting in my shirts having the cuffs on upside down so that the buttons were on top of my wrist.  This didn’t honestly bother me.  My go-to solution was to wear the shirt with the cuffs rolled up. I was going for kind of a casual, sporty look. My teacher, Mrs. H, was not ok with my sporty fashion.  It is really a pain to take the sleeves out.  Not a lot of fun. The lazy 15 year old that I was could usually circumvent this task by finishing the project without letting her see it in progress.  My grade was lowered but at least I didn’t have to rip the sleeves out. We usually had to turn in our projects along the way and it was so irritating to get something back with a veritable list of errors that needed to be fixed. Looking back, I will admit if it wasn’t for Mrs. H and her pickiness, I wouldn’t have learned to sew; or at the very least I would have been wearing lots of shirts with the sleeves rolled up. I found her picture in my yearbook from my sophmore year of high school.

mrs HI haven’t looked at a high school yearbook in many years – at least 20. I remembered Mrs. H as being old. When I was in high school I am sure I thought of her as old. Now that I look at her  picture, she doesn’t look all that old. She was probably in her 40’s? My perspective has changed some 38 years later. I bet anything she made her plaid blazer!

OK – moving on. I had a hankering to make something that was not-a-quilt.  Anything really.  I poked around the fabric in my sewing room and decided to use these two vintage pieces that I bought a while back. I played around with them and decided to make a blouse – my vision was something kind of bohemian or like a peasant blouse. The vintage prints made me think of peasant blouses, the 1970’s, high school and Mrs. H.  One thing led to another and the whole time I sewed this blouse I kept thinking of what Mrs. H would have changed, commented on or corrected.  Lots of nostalgia going on in my sewing room over the past couple of days! First, let’s  take a look at the blouse. It turned out pretty but definitely would not have earned me an “A”.

Here are a couple of things that would have brought the grade down.  First of all, the sleeves. I did a french seam on the first sleeve but then got distracted and did a regular seam on the other sleeve.  The 15 year old me decided this was just fine.  At least one sleeve has a nicely finished seam. Two french seams? Overkill.

20140925_1752Another definite mark-down is the hem.  I didn’t use any sort of hem tape or blind stitch for a nicely finished hem. I am so sorry Mrs. H but I just didn’t feel like it.  I did a quick roll of the fabric and machine stitched the hem.  I know, I know, it should have been hand sewn and she would have knocked my grade for that but I am ok with a machine stitched hem.  Honest, it is fine with me.

20140925_1759Then there is the sleeve length.  I had this idea to cut the sleeves and put a cotton lace trim on them. That worked out nicely except that I didn’t measure the sleeve length correctly and they ended up almost-too-short.  The 15 year old me was not at all concerned about this.  She found some bright orange, single fold bias tape (that was probably purchased back in the 1970’s) and made a casing for the elastic so as not o lose any length on the sleeves by making a casing for the elastic.  If you look closely you can see the orange peeking out of the bottom of the sleeves. I feel this was probably a wash – Mrs. H would have been impressed with the inset cotton lace and irritated with the bright orange bias tape.

This was a really fun, sweetly nostalgic project.  Just for kicks, here is 15 year old me.  I cannot explain the hair except to say that my hair was never my best feature!  Also cannot explain the halter top on picture day. Remember, this was 1975. We got to wear halter tops to school. Times have changed!

hs pic

Linking to TGIFF, Finish It Up Friday, Link a Finish Friday and Confessions of a Fabric Addict. All of these wonderful sites are listed at the top of my page, under Link Ups.  Take a minute and check out these blogs. I love them all!  Have a good weekend everyone!

 

 

 

 

19 thoughts on “Paying Homage to High School Home Ec

    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks. If you’d have asked me a month ago how old Mrs. H was when she was our teacher I would have said 55 or so. So funny to look. at that picture. She wasn’t that old at all. Younger than we are now, that’s for sure. Yikes!!

      Reply
  1. Kirsty@Bonjour

    Great finish – I like how you improvised with the sleeve length, I’d have never thought to do something tricky like that. And I never hand sew my hems, oops. I’m sure Mrs H would have approved 😉

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thanks! This was such a fun project. I actually like the bright seam binding peeking out from the bottom of the sleeves. Yes, she probably would have liked the shirt. Maybe hand sewing the hems back then was because the machines we had weren’t as nice. Or she was teaching us some discipline. Actually, it was probably both those things! Glad you stopped by.

      Reply
  2. Juanita

    I love 15 year old you-now…not so much when I was 12. I think the shirt is super cute and deserves an A in my book. The only thing I remember making in that sewing class was a polyester maroon jumpsuit with bell bottoms and a zipper down the front. The collar was wide and definitely wider on one side. Boy was that ugly!

    Reply
  3. Mari

    Shirt looks great, Bernie! Very vintage-y. I never took home ec (one of those weirdos who took calculus and French instead) but my mother and grandmother were critics enough! And you’re right–we all thought those teachers were so old! Who could imagine being as ols as 40?! Love 15-year-old you. Oh to go back to the 70s, just for a quick visit!

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hmmmm… Calculus? It took me two tries to make it through Algebra II and that’s where math ended for me! Math was so painful. It is fun thinking about those days. Have a good weekend Mari! (Guess what? We got almost a 1/2″ of RAIN yesterday. It was glorious. Everyone was doing a happy dance.)

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Just checked out your blog. Did you grow up in Alaska? Your site is very pretty – such nice photos. I love the berry wall hanging that you just finished.
      It was fun to try to get back into my 15 year old mind. A nice bit of nostalgia! Did you also take home ec? I don’t know about in Alaska but here in California, the schools don’t really offer any sort of shop classes or home ec. No funding for it. So sad.

      Thanks for coming by!
      Bernie

      Reply
  4. Nana

    I love your description of what many of us experienced in Home Ec. Your Mrs. H would be appalled at even the best of garment quality regardless of what you pay. I love the peasant blouse and I think you did a great job.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Hi Nana! Thanks for coming by. I think the home ec experience in the 60’s and 70’s is a piece of history. Nothing of the sort has been offered to my children in school. Such fun memories! Thank you for coming by.

      Enjoy your weekend!
      Bernie

      Reply
  5. Sarah from mila+cuatro

    I very much enjoyed reading this post, Bernie! The main thing I remember making in home ec was placemats – not very inspiring ones either. But I remember making clothes – a top and a skirt – when I was probably about 11, and I remember playing with the thread and notions and sewing machine in my mum’s sewing table, that was a happy place.

    Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      Thank you Sarah. I am glad you liked it. I sewed like crazy when I was growing up. Some outfits far more successful than others! My sisters and I love to joke about some of our clothing disasters! Thanks for stopping over!
      Bernie

      Reply
    1. Bernie Post author

      You should give it a try. You are so creative. I bet you could have some fun. Maybe something for your grand kids? I loved making my kids matching pj (pants only) for the holidays.
      B.

      Reply

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