The Atlantic

The Heirloom Art of the Sewing Machine

Even after automation, sewing remains a craft that’s passed down through generations. An Object Lesson.
Source: Alexandra Beier / Reuters

Both of my sewing machines come from my grandmothers, though neither taught me how to sew. The older one is a child-sized, antique Singer, which can no longer stitch a seam. The hand crank that powers it, however, still turns, and the presser foot still lifts. The other—a plastic electric model from the 1970s—runs well, for now. It’ll eventually go the way of my mother’s machine, a workhorse that outlived the manufacture of replacement parts. When it does, another will take its place, and I’ll have to learn a new set of motions for bobbin-winding and needle-threading.

In much of the Western world, sewing was done by hand for centuries as a cottage industry—a handicraft and trade passed from mother to daughter or master to apprentice. The Industrial Revolution brought innovations in all things textile. The Spinning Jenny, power looms, and similar machines mass-produced thread and fabric. Wheels, gears, and power did the work previously done by human hands

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da The Atlantic

The Atlantic6 min lettiMedical
Why Kids Might Be Key to Reaching Herd Immunity
A few days after Christmas, Molly Hering, 14, and her brother, Sam, 12, got their first shots as part of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trials for kids. Their mom had heard about a clinical trial being conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and Mo
The Atlantic3 min lettiAmerican Government
‘Unity’ Is Not What America Needs Right Now
President Biden’s pursuit of solidarity is well intentioned. But without concrete plans to hold bad actors accountable, his efforts will be useless.
The Atlantic7 min lettiAmerican Government
How to Undo One of Trump’s Worst, Most Despicable Policies
As President Joe Biden takes office, his administration will get to work reversing some of the Trump administration’s most controversial and destructive policies, including the elimination of key environmental protections, the creation of new immigra