Dress For Sewing


Not quite what you think! Not a dress to sew but a question, do you dress for sewing? Do you prepare yourself mentally?
dress for sewingIn the 40s and 50s, a woman’s place was very much in the home and there were lots of articles and advice on how a housewife should comport herself.

Some of the advice from this Singer sewing manual made me laugh, but there are a couple of useful tips in there!






Mentally prepare yourself for sewing


Tprepare mentally for sewinghe Singer manual advises “never approach sewing with a sigh or in a lackadaisical manner. Good results are difficult when indifference predominates.” Well, I guess if you’re sighing and viewing it as a chore you’re not really going to produce your best work! If I feel like this about a sewing project then I’ll change the project to something I enjoy doing. If I do have to do a particular project then I’ll put myself in the mood by playing some upbeat music and thinking about how I’ll feel when it’s finished (prepare myself mentally). Does some lively music put you in the mood for sewing?

Do the Housework

do the choresCan you concentrate if you have a sinkful of dirty dishes or unmade beds?
I can live with unmade beds, dirty dishes annoy me so I would do these! According to the Singer advice, your mind can be “free to enjoy sewing if all the household chores are done.” It depends what they mean by household chores. A bit of dust here and there, carpets unvacuumed, bath not cleaned? I could sew quite happily without giving these “chores” a second thought!

Dress for Sewing


The advice from Singer is to “make yourself as attractive as possible.”  What does this statement mean to you, full makeup, best dress, killer heels? I don’t think I’d get much work done dressed like that! The reasoning behind this is that you’ll be distracted from your sewing if you are not “neatly put together.” You’d be fretting in case your husband came home or you got unexpected visitors. You are also advised to have some french chalk close by to dust your fingers occasionally, (it doesn’t say why!).

Things have changed a lot since those days! So how do you dress for sewing? Do you care if you’re not “neatly put together?” Does the housework have to be done, including unmade beds? I’d love to hear your stories, please leave comments below!



About Kathy Russell
  1. The point in your post where you state to mentally prepare for sewing also has some safety implications. Sewing involves the use of sharp instruments and if you’re not fully checked into what you’re doing, you could hurt yourself. So although the “dress for sewing” article has a humorous touch, being prepared can have a serious side too.

    It’s important to psyche yourself up to produce the best sewing you can do but you also need to do this to protect yourself.

    • Yes, sewing can be painful if you get your fngers in the way of the needle! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment Eric. 🙂

  2. Kerry Bramham says

    Hi Kathy,

    Nice, fun take on sewing!. Times really have changed since the 50s, haven’t they? Thank goodness we don’t have to live up to those rules anymore. I do sew a bit, but I have to say, I never got dressed up for it. The housework can wait, it will still be there when they sewing’s done.


    • In the 50s there seemed to be a strict set of rules as to how a wife should comport herself. I’ve certainly never dressed for sewing other than not wearing something with floaty sleeves! Housework has always come last to my upcycling projects, as you say it can wait. Glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

  3. Michelle Medeiros says

    This was funny! Never thought about dressing for sewing… But the interesting thing is that I’ve been kind of doing this unconsciously. I have a part of my wardrobe which is only for “clothes to stay home”. These are more comfortable but I like them to be simple and pretty. Plus, I can’t stay without putting earrings… So, yeah, maybe I dress a bit for sewing, but surely not like the old days.
    By the way, I could never ever live with an unmade bed… 🙂
    Thank you for sharing this very fun post, Kathy!


    • I thought it was fun too! I have a household book from the 1950s, never answer the door with your apron on and make sure you look inviting when your husband comes home from work! Interesting that you dress for sewing unconsciously, I wonder if it’s something we learn from our Mothers/guardians knee!

  4. Mary Somers says

    Kathy, what can I say, other than there must be some kind of telepathy at work here. I knew this article had to be written by a Maeve Binchey type character. We all simply adore her here in Ireland. And voila Kathy, there you are.

    I love your article and as I started a craft group here in County Clare where I was asked to bring it out th the community by our Parish Priest and Co. That I did and it has now grown to a healthy, 30 women with about 40 on a waiting list. I had suggested that somebody else might start group 2, b ut sadly not. However, it is doing incredibly well and they are all making patchwork quilts at the moment.

    Also yes, I am a great believer in doing full makeup routine to greet the day, every day I do it. You know that my partner has never seen me without make-up Kathy. I feel that it is a discipline which sets me up for my “Mission to Nam”. My brother says that I do two hours time every morning before work.

    Kind regards,
    Mary somers

    • I don’t dress for sewing and have never been a big makeup user Mary!How wonderful you started a sewing group and it’s successful, I love that you’re making patchwork quilts at the moment. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. 🙂

  5. Hi Kathy, I for one am so glad that we no longer live in the 1950s or 1960s where women dressed for sewing. Did this really happen?! It seems such an alien concept now. But then I guess having your husband’s pipe and slippers ready for when he got home from work was part of that long-ago era too! Personally I wear something comfortable without a tight waist band for sewing so hat when I bend over it doesn’t get uncomfortable. Maybe you should sew a branded sewing onesie and sell it?!

    • Lol, love the idea of a sewing onesie!
      I have a home craft book from the 1950s and it was very much like that, women dressed for everything, not just sewing. We were also advised never to let our husbands see us without our lipstick and NEVER with an apron on! There is some merit in tidying yourself up for certain tasks, but dress for sewing? No I don’t think so!

  6. LOL, the quoted remarks from what I think was the Singer sewing guide were halarious! They do make you laugh to think woman really dressed for sewing. I imagine its like the phrase “dress for success”.

    there is certainly some truth to it. The better you feel and look the better frame of mind you will have and that will reflect on your performance.

    Thanks for the retrfo laugh

    • Yes Debra, I agree, there were some useful tips there, not sure I’d ever like to go back to the days when women dressed for sewing though!

  7. AnnieLouisa says

    Hi Kathy
    This made me laugh. Just the thoughts of putting on makeup when I sew. I’m never very “neatly put together” at the best of times, but I do prefer the house to be tidy before I start, mainly because by the time I’ve scattered sewing stuff everywhere, if I hadn’t tidied up first there would be just too much clutter. I like a tidy desk too before I start to write. I do keep a lot of lists on the go so perhaps I am just obsessive/compulsive. Personally I always have French chalk close by in case one of the neighbours comes in looking for an opponent at hopscotch. Perhaps the Singer lady chalked up her fingers to show her husband she had been busy while he had been at the office. I know my mum used to say that she gave a spritz of furniture polish behind her ears before dad got home to give the right impression.

    • Very funny Annie, never heard of the “furniture polish behind the ears” trick! My preparation for sewing consists of sweeping the clutter to the side and making sure I lock the doors so I’m not caught in a state of disarray!

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