December 30th, 2010
I had hoped this evening to exhibit a finished pair of drawers, but despite nearly constant stitching, they are still far from completed. So instead, we (being in the editorial sense) offer the following quotations; to own the truth, they are more for our benefit than yours.
From The common things of every-day life, by Anne Bowman, London, 1857:
“We would not, however, recommend that needlework should engross too much time, especially that valuable portion which should be set apart for improving studies, domestic duties, healthy exercise, or innocent amusement. Needlework is one of the beneficial occupations of life in its due place; but it must not become the sole occupation…
“Neither does it become the lady of ample fortune, who can afford to employ the industrious dressmaker, to make her own dresses at home, anymore than the young of the middle classes to neglect useful household duties that they may bend incessantly over needlework.”
And from the introduction to one of my guilty pleasure novels, The unprotected; or Facts in dressmaking life, by Mary Guignard, London, 1857:
“The writer remembers also another instance which occurred, not in London but in the large provincial town where he then resided. A young girl had been kept at her needle in the workroom of her employers, day after day, and night after night, without intermission till she sunk down and could work no longer. They sent to her mother, who lived in the same town, and she was led home supported by two of her brothers, who had hastened to her. When she reached the well-known parlour at home, she sunk down upon the floor in a state of such entire exhaustion, that they feared to move her even to her own chamber, lest she should die under the exertion. A bed was brought down and placed under her, when a sleep from which she did not awaken till the evening of the next day, happily relieved and renewed the faculties of her exhausted frame…
“And for what is all this terrible waste of life and this wreck of health? Is it absolutely necessary that a certain number of the young women of our country should be thus sacrificed, in order that another class of their own sex may be elegantly and fashionably dressed?”
We would like to thank a certain gentleman, who shall remain nameless in his beneficence, for inspiring this change of heart.