“Sewing Made Easy”

Modern sewing machines make the task too easy. They can be programmed to do anything you might need. But what if you don’t have a new machine? If, like me, your machine is older than your adult children, and you need buttonholes?

BUTTON HOLES!! How do I do that?!

I bought a vintage sewing book. I knew how to sew buttonholes, aeons ago, but couldn’t quite get the hang of it again. And when I need new curtains, I will feel pretty silly buying  a pattern, because curtains are just straight seams, and patterns can be $15 or more, sometimes more expensive than buying the fabric.

My vintage sewing instruction book is Sewing Made Easy by Mary Lynch and Dorothy Sara. It was first published in 1950, then revised for 1960. It contains instructions on how to baste, handsew buttonholes, attach various kinds of buttons, make a pattern, fit a pattern, alter a garment, sew curtains and slipcovers, and make over old garments. Post-war, this was still a concern. Why waste a good piece of wool suiting just because the pant and jacket cuffs are frayed? Take it apart, lay it out, and cut out a skirted suit for a woman. Or use a man’s old overcoat to make a child’s winterwear, and how about that striped shirt Dad has had for years, wouldn’t it be nice as a blouse for daughter?

This book takes you from designing your trousseau to decorating your house and making stuffed toys. This is the material we were once taught in home economics classes, but even when I was a girl, the focus was on keeping us interested in learning to use the sewing machine to whip up simple skirts and tote bags – nothing about tailoring or facing a lapel!

Patterns years ago did not have instructions in them in how to use interfacing, or make a casing, or fell a flat seam – the home sewer was expected to know these things. For those who did not have tailoring classes, these books of sewing basics were available. I find mine useful for so many things – and I wish I had it when I was trying to make a dress with french seams!


5 thoughts on ““Sewing Made Easy”

  1. When I stayed with a group of conservative Mennonites for about 10 days a few years ago, one woman was kind enough to show me the basics of dress making. Not only that, but she made me a pattern! It took about a day, but was very helpful giving me tips and pointers regular patterns and modern sewing techniques won’t include. Another woman took the pattern and made me another dress that fit perfectly. I’ve since lost weight, but have a book that tells how to modify a pattern so I can still use it. Our off the rack society has lost a lot.

  2. Dear Magdalena,

    I have this book! It has been a wonderful resource for me as I have made the transition from electric sewing machines to sewing in a treadle sewing machine. I have to make all my buttonholes by hand and also sew my zippers by hand.

    I have re-discovered the joy of sewing!

    Thank you for your wonderful posts about sewing lately…I have enjoyed them immensely 🙂


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