Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Plight of the Clever Girl

Did you ever feel that you were born in the wrong era? In my saner moments, I recognize my feelings of historical displacement for what they are, wistful fantasies, and inaccurate. Like all fantasies, my view of what it would be like focuses only on the pleasant and peaceful, ignoring the hardships, inequalities and injustices found in former times. But, in measured doses, any fantasy will provide release from the stresses of the day....
Let's see, would you be Elinor Dashwood? Jo March? Anne Shirley? or even Nancy Drew (don't forget she had a tasteful wardrobe, a slim, athletic figure, a handsome boyfriend, and a baby-blue convertible!)? Oh what about one of the young ladies of Downton Abbey?

I don't have any one historical era that I love most. I'm susceptible to any author who can describe beauty and romance. I'm fascinated by fashion of almost any era, lifestyles and cooking, household management, and especially any kind of needlework skills, from fancy embroidery to clever skilled mending techniques.
A while back, I determined to learn how to darn socks. I bought spools of darning thread and a darning egg on ebay and at yard sales. Now, everyone in this family has worn darned socks. (Those darned socks!)
I love to read old ladies' magazine articles about home management, and all accounts of the domestic work world. I found the book below on ebay. It's a text book for high school level Home Economonics, copyrighted 1935, and I believe it was reprinted and updated for a couple of decades. Sometimes, I see ebay auctions for the accompanying workbook. For all the charm of the quaint text, I originally got interested in the book because of the sweet illustrations of Eulalie Banks.
This one is featured on the frontispiece. I want to awake in that bed, well-rested with warm summer breezes lilting in my crisp curtains. I just know the sheets were hung on the line, and carefully pressed, and they smell like a Spring evening, when the peepers are chirping. And that quilt....I wonder just how many of my calico school dresses ended up in those 9-patch blocks?

I was going to save further illustrations for future posts, but I can't help it -- this one is in the introductory chapter on sewing your own clothes. Can you read the text underneath?

"In the preceding unit we discussed selection of clothing.

We learned that the clever girl realizes that to be well-dressed

she must study clothes as she would any subject in school."

Sigh...such a burden to be a clever girl.....


Lorrie said...

I sometimes think that I would have made a good Victorian woman - conversant in any number of things like needlework, painting, music, etc. but proficient in nothing.

Love this retro look at Home Ec. It's sure changed, hasn't it?

Mainah said...

When I saw your title, I thought you might be headed in the direction that I often feel is my plight: I know how to knit, sew, crochet, embroider, cross stitch, paper craft, organize, decorate, cook, bake, write....and I can't delve into all of it with any depth of productivity or proficiency! If I only had a singular interest, like clothing; oh what fun it would be to study it and know it well!

Decor To Adore said...

Agh! I love it ALL!!!! The drawings, the verbage~ truly a perfect book.

Lynn said...

What a fun book! I don't have a favorite era either but really enjoy the fashions from the 40s and 50s. And when I look at books like your, I think of how simple and wholesome life once way. Sigh! Thanks for sharing, you clever girl, you!

Can do mom said...

Ooh, I want to be a clever girl, too! Alas, I'm not much with a needle and thread nor a sewing machine. However, both my daughters know how to sew and quilt (and cook, although I know that's a different chapter). Does that count for anything?! ;)

I love your book - it's delightful!

Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage said...

There HAVE been times I've thought that perhaps I was born in the wrong era. But, of course, I came to my senses, remembering that God makes no mistakes and that I am merely romanticizing the good...and choosing to ignore the bad. I do so long for a more genteel time though.

Liz @ The Brambleberry Cottage