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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 10 Jan 2018, 10:05 
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jennifer wrote:
I see things like embroidery and lace making as being more towards the accomplishment end of skills - a girl from a family that hired people to make their clothes and linens would still be expected to do fine handiwork for recreation. Whereas if a girl was from a family where they had to make their own clothes, sewing straight seams and making good buttonholes was the priority, and fancywork an extra.

The CS seems to bridge that gap. There's some effort to teach the girls basic sewing, and they do need to do their own mending, but they're not at the level of being able to actually make something like a dress. The embroidery, lace making, knitting and so on are firmly in the hobbies category, where girls do them for fun. And sewing sheets sides to middle is definitely a punishment.

My mother would be the same age as the triplets, and her training at home would have been very practical - mending, sewing to make clothing, knitting to make clothing, with lace work and embroidery not even in the picture.

Well, lace-making is a bit different, although it's used as a hobby in modern times, and that's how it's being treated when Con shows an interest (and most probably how Irma regards it, though she may have learnt it from say, a grandmother who had been a lace-maker). In the past, making lace was never really in the picture as far as most girls were concerned, because it's a skilled craft that was generally used to earn money by working girls and women in particular geographical areas. It's also pretty difficult!

All the knitting and plain sewing and embroidery could be used to earn a living as well, of course, but they were taught and practised right across the social classes, in many countries. Even a girl who would eventually have domestic staff to do the work of the house would be taught how to do those things so that she could make sure her servants were doing them properly and show them how if necessary.

ETA I should have added that, yes, Jeanne le Cadoulec teaches the invalid Frau Laubach how to "make simple stitches in pillow-lace" in Jo Returns, but I think that may be a touch of authorial licence. For one thing, Jeanne would not be all that likely to have learnt lace-making herself, being a member of the aristocracy, and in any case I'm not at all convinced that EMBD understood the entirety of the process. For one thing a lace pillow has to be hard, to keep the pins steady, and although not heavy, they're usually quite large - not necessarily comfortable or easy to use if you have to lie on a couch all day, as we're told she does.


Last edited by Noreen on 10 Jan 2018, 16:22, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 10 Jan 2018, 10:21 
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That's interesting Noreen - when did crocheting come into the picture? A skill which I am totally unable to master :(

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 10 Jan 2018, 12:49 
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That's an interesting question, cestina, and I have had to look a few things up! The actual technique of making stitches with a single hook seems to have arisen in conjunction with lace-making in the 17th century, as it was used to join pieces of lace together. Crcochet as we now know it seems to be a largely 19th century thing, though I'm betting that it was a traditional/ rural craft before that.

Like many of my generation I can crochet 'granny squares' all right, and have been known to make doll's hats and even a miniature jacket by dint of keeping a count of how many stitches I used, but I could not follow a crochet pattern to save my life! In this I claim to take after my eldest aunt-cum-godmother...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 10 Jan 2018, 20:16 
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I first learnt to crochet as a child, at about the same time as I learned to knit. But I could only go round and round in double crochet [single crochet to US people!] But in the seventies, when it became fashionable, my landlady taught me to follow a pattern. She sat half-behind me on a sofa, and practically worked my hands until I 'got' it! She was South African, but I don't know if that's relevant...

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 11 Jan 2018, 17:34 
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jennifer wrote:
There's some effort to teach the girls basic sewing, and they do need to do their own mending, but they're not at the level of being able to actually make something like a dress. The embroidery, lace making, knitting and so on are firmly in the hobbies category, where girls do them for fun. And sewing sheets sides to middle is definitely a punishment. .

There's a scene in one book where Mary-Lou has pinned a pattern to some material and is cutting it out (not sure which book) so they clearly did make things meant to be worn. I went to Grammar School in 1957, with a wide mix of social classes, and we had sewing lessons up to sixth form. I do recall making a pinny and then a blouse, and we also knitted cardigans etc. That's where I learned to use 4 needles to knit socks. I was never really interested at the time but, once married, I sewed and knitted most of my own clothes and my daughter's. Being able to make her school summer dresses was ideal as, although they all had to be pink gingham, they could have any style they liked. So why wouldn't the CS girls have learned the same skills?

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 13:20 
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MaryR wrote:
I went to Grammar School in 1957, with a wide mix of social classes, and we had sewing lessons up to sixth form.


I was at secondary school in the early 90s and we still had sewing lessons. At the very least, we learnt to use machines, and made a basic garment (mine was a gored tartan skirt - hideous!). I'm not much cop at sewing, but I can at least hem curtains and cobble together dance costumes, so it did me some good!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 13:55 
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We had to make an apron, which seems to have been standard at most schools in the late '80s. Then we had to make a skirt, then a nightie, and then a blouse. They were all hideous, but I suppose at least we learnt something useful. I'm never sure how much of what I read in the media to believe :lol:, but I've read things about people throwing out clothes because buttons have come off and they don't know how to sew on new ones, or going to a dressmaker to have a hem on a pair of trousers taken up. I'm not exactly a domestic goddess (anything but!) but I can manage the basics.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 14:03 
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We spent the first term and a half of the first year at my Direct Grant School in 1960 making a cookery apron, and the remainder of the second term and the summer term doing plain cooking. That was the only cookery we ever had, and later on - Lower 5 as I remember - those who dropped Latin were allowed to take needlework O level. Of course, as at the time Latin O level was still a requirement for nearly all University entrance - it began to disappear later in the 60s, it was only those with no university aspirations that dared drop Latin ... all my knowledge/experience of using a sewing machine, and embroidery stitches, as well as knitting & crochet, came from home - grandmothers, aunts and Mum.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 18:29 
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abbeybufo wrote:
...... those who dropped Latin were allowed to take needlework O level.


I love your turn of phrase Ruth! I would say "...made to take needlework"! I would opt for Latin any day of the week and indeed carefully dropped a pencil so that I could hide under the desk when we were invited to do needlework during a free period in our second year at boarding school.

I vaguely remember making some sort of bag to hold sewing items in my first year and never willingly touched a sewing needle after that!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 21:05 
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There is a mention of Jo completing Needlewoman badge for a Guides by setting in a sleeve and being tested by Frau Meiders. Also when they use crepe paper and other materials for Sales outfits or in the new uniform competition or the many dressing up nights, they all seem very good at dressmaking.
Our primary schools in 1950’s Scotland insisted from the age of five onwards that you made a lap bag, needle holder, shorts and apron for domestic science use. Knitting involved a snood, mittens and socks and scarf.
High School only non Latin classes got cookery and needlework, but you could use embroidery for O level and H Art!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 21:26 
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This isn't fair! I did Latin but had to do needlework as well!

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 12 Jan 2018, 23:06 
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We spent our first year at grammar school (1950s) making our cookery aprons, second year we did cookery (quite basic - the first lesson we baked a potato, grilled a tomato and baked an apple). Third year we did a term and a half of each - I made a blouse in the needlework bit but never wore it! After that we were split - either Latin and maths or Cookery and needlework - basically academic or non-academic. I remember one girl who wanted to go to Domestc Science college and had to fight quite hard to do cookery not Latin/maths, as she was considered " academic"

This was a small one-form entry country school so no streaming as such


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 00:25 
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I spent one entire term taking needlework one lesson per week. Didn't do a scrap of needlework but did help the teacher clean out all her cupboards - she and I both recognised needlework wasn't my thing! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 02:08 
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Alison H wrote:
but I've read things about people throwing out clothes because buttons have come off and they don't know how to sew on new ones, or going to a dressmaker to have a hem on a pair of trousers taken up.


Well, I can just manage the buttons and sewing rips and tears.

I can't darn stockings though which is annoying because I get sick of buying panty hose and tights.

That said, I did go to the local alteration store when a tear was right down the side of a jacket and for a dress which needed a completely new lining put in.

The woman who runs the place said originally her store was to sell knitting, sewing things but people kept asking her for help in sewing etc so she opened the alteration section which does a roaring trade.

And she said the same thing as you - most people want buttons sewn on.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 09:36 
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Joyce wrote:
I can't darn stockings though which is annoying because I get sick of buying panty hose and tights.
Well, I'm not sure you can really successfully darn modern nylons - or not to the 'invisible' standard that EMBD talks of (her generation tended to wear thicker stockings than we're used to now). When I was an impoverished young museum curator I used to cut off any tights-leg that had a hole/ ladder (it was invariably only one in a pair) and wear two half pairs of tights, if you see what I mean!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 10:10 
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At primary school, I learnt to knit at 7 and started sewing at 8. We were taught the basic stitches, how to do seams, repairs like darning and patching and buttons. We never made anything in sewing but the best examples were stuck in a book. I was supposed to knit a pair of socks but never finished them.

At secondary school, we had the choice of science, domestic science and art. I chose art but wish now I had done science. In 5th Year, I could do Domestic Science Or Biology. I wanted to do Biology but Mum insisted I did Dom. Science. I then went on to train as an Occupational Therapist and Biology would have been very useful.

I managed to pass Needlewoman Badge on the second attempt with a lot of support from Mum.

As an adult, I have made clothes, curtains and quilts. I used to do crossstich and needlepoint and currently knit.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 10:29 
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At secondary school we did one term each over the first two years of: cookery, needlework, art, music, drama, and pottery. Then we had to choose one “practical”subject to do alongside our 8 O levels - it could be one of the original 6 subjects or typing. I chose typing - I could already cook thanks to my mum, and consdered typing would be far more use than any of the others. This was the 1980s.

Sewing was intro to cross stitch, buttons and hems, making a cushion cover, making a garment (mine was a skirt I never wore). I can do buttons and catching up a hem, but any actual repairs I’d take to a professional, I don’t have the equipment or the skill :D


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 14:31 
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Quote:
I remember one girl who wanted to go to Domestc Science college and had to fight quite hard to do cookery not Latin/maths, as she was considered " academic"

Miss Cattermole and Lucy Eylesbarrow come to mind!

Jo could do plain sewing when she had to, couldn't she, even though she didn't enjoy it. Didn't she take apart her own old school dresses to make dresses for the Highland Twins?

Quote:
We spent our first year at grammar school (1950s) making our cookery aprons, second year we did cookery.

We did that in the 1960s. Navy blue gingham. I remember making a basic shift dress, as well.

I did do quite a lot of dressmaking at home, until some time after I left school, but dropped it when ready made clothes from the shop became cheaper.

Wooden school chairs were death on tights, all the rough edges and splinters. And tights were expensive then, as they were only just coming in. So we did try to mend them very inexpertly, or use the nail varnish trick to stop a ladder. Must have looked very untidy. One of my friends had very long mid-brown hair; she used to pluck one out to use instead of nylon thread.

Nowadays I only wear trousers. Not having to bother with tights is one of the benefits.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 15:42 
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I can sew on buttons and not very expertly sort trouser hems. I have been known though to leave blouses for months before getting round to sewing on buttons.

I did basic sewing and knitting in primary school but never mastered casting on and casting off.

Maybe all children should be taught the basics of this along with basic cooking, cleaning, finances including stuff about national insurance, tax, pensions, community charges etc. Point is though at that age retirement is so far off and I wonder if future generations will be able to do so.

I am not in the least crafty but it is a good hobby and takes up the attention of the sick, anxious and old. I am even thinking of learning how to knit...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Future Chalet School Girl
PostPosted: 13 Jan 2018, 16:38 
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Alison H wrote:
This isn't fair! I did Latin but had to do needlework as well!

Me, too, Alison! :roll: The only thing we A formers were let off was Dom Science.

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