Tag Archives: 1970’s home ec

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!