March is one of my favorite months of the year. First, our wedding anniversary is March 28 so this month is always special for Dusty and me. (This year marks year number thirty eight!) I also look forward to March each year because of its designations as National Nutrition Month and Women’s History Month—two of my passions.
I’d like to kick March off a day early by sharing the accomplishments of a remarkable woman you have probably never heard of. Like so many accomplished women, her name has been lost in history even though her invention continues to impact our lives every day.
Ellen Curtis Demorest (1824 – 1898) was born in Schuylerville, New York. Inspired by a fashion show in nearby Saratoga, 18-year-old Nell (as she was called) set up her own millinery shop. A very bold move for a young woman at that time! Business was brisk, reflecting Nell’s natural flair for fashion. Eventually Nell moved her business to New York City where she met and married William Jennings Demorest.
After watching her maid use brown paper to cut a crude dress pattern, Nell hit upon the idea of creating simplified but standardized mass-produced paper dress patterns for home use.
Where would Family and Consumer Science educators who teach fashion and apparel be without these standardized paper patterns? During Women’s History Month let’s celebrate Ellen Curtis Demorest as a FACS Hero! She’s just one of the inventive and ground-breaking women who broke important ground for the rest of us.
You can learn more about Ellen Curtis Demorest at:
I spent last Monday, President’s Day, conducting a “sewing” workshop for the 4H kids in our county. This workshop is an annual affair that I look forward to each year. In year’s past we’ve introduced the kids to the basics of sewing by making pajama pants and a simple quilt.
Last year the kids made a couple of projects redesigning t-shirts using simple hand sewing skills. That workshop was such a hit with the kids (We literally had trouble getting the kids to leave when their parents came to pick them up!) that we decided to do something similar again. This year the kids made pillows from t-shirts. The process requires basic measuring and cutting. The pillow is constructed by tying simple knots. The kids had a great time designing and creating their pillows. It was another successful day!
Here’s a summary of the steps in case you’d like to try it with your students.
- Lay the T-shirt flat and measure and mark the widest point between the sleeves. Measure and mark that same distance down toward the hem on both sides to make a square. Cut the square through both layers of the T-shirt.
- Cut 2-inch squares from each corner through both layers.
- Cut fringe 2 1/2-inches long by 1/2-inch wide through both layers into each edge around the perimeter.
- Use a double knot to tie each piece of fringe from the top layer of fabric to the corresponding piece beneath it.
- Work your way around the perimeter of the pillow until you have about three or four fringe pieces remaining.
- Fill the pillow through that hole with polyester fiberfill or other stuffing material of your choice.
- Tie the remaining fringe to close up the pillow.
The possibilities for using T-shirts in simple sewing and design projects are endless. For more ideas check out these two great books.
Megan Nicolay, the author of the Generation T books has some great projects on her website at http://www.generation-t.com/.
On an impromptu shopping trip to JoAnn Fabrics yesterday, I discovered a great book that any FACS teacher who teaches sewing and textiles should add to their reference library.
Sew Retro, A Stylish History of The Sewing Revolution by Judi Ketteler is a charming snapshot of the sewing history in America. Besides being a great read, the book also includes 25 vintage-inspired projects that are simple enough to use as classroom projects. Check out the author’s website for additional retro sewing projects. www.sewretrothebook.com/index.html. The Sewing History section of the website gives a great overview of the evolution of sewing. Very cool!
Incorporating history into your FACS curriculum is so important to improving your program’s credibility. If you’re looking for ways to emphasize history in FACS, check out our resource Historical FACS for activities for every FACS content area.
For more information about this and our other FACS resources, visit our website at www.freshfacs.com.
Have a Fresh FACS day!