Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Secrets of Sewing: Sewing Efficiency


Containing Concise and Definite Instructions for the Better Use of the Sewing Machine

by Olive M. Elrich, Hazel L. Hunt ( 7th ed, Greist,  New Haven Connecticut 1925;  Bebarfalds, George St, Sydney)

From the back cover: ‘written so that a girl of 10 can understand it’, ’fully illustrated’

Price in 1925: 5 shillings (Australia)
Soft cover, stapled spine, 64 pages.


‘The French Fold’ created with the binder and a pair of disembodied stunt hands.

Despite the claim on the back cover, a reading age greater than ten is almost certainIy required to make good use of this book. Nonetheless, it is clearly written and well illustrated. If you have a set of vintage Greist attachments, and wondered what they could have been used for, then this book will give an indication, and perhaps some inspiration.  I purchased this book as an accessory for my Bebarfald Blue-Bird treadle sewing machine. Blue-Birds were originally issued with a set of Greist attachments: corder foot, narrow hemmer, ruffler, 3/8 and 7/8 hemmers, attachment foot, tucker, quilter, shirrer, underbraider, hem stitcher and a bias gauge.

Aprons feature fairly heavily in Elrich and Hunt’s book. Some are such sheer and lacy affairs, it is hard to imagine them serving any practical purpose.


It would be salacious to suggest that they might have gone best with the camisole.


But there are some more practical ideas for when one is not entertaining:


Here is another practical apron, although I found myself admiring the blouse:


And consider what might be achieved with the tucker and ruffler:


Or the underbraider:


There are also ideas for the baby’s bonnet, bassinette and the toddler’s rompers.


I was motivated to acquire this book as a nice companion piece for my Bebarfald Blue-Bird. If I did not have that connection, I might not have chased this book down. But there is every chance that this book may inspire me to put  those attachments to more use.

I am also grateful to the Misses Elrich and Hunt for their graceful assertion that sewing is a fine art:

‘All things that are necessary are beautiful, and surely the knowledge of how to clothe your body in simple, artistic clothing is rightly a beautiful art.’

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