Bring Back Sewing at Home

September 30th, 2009

Reflecting on the history of unions provides an opportunity to consider whether or not unions still protect workers who could be abused, underpaid and taken advantage of in other ways.

It is commonplace to talk about the end of sweatshops in the US and how the ALGWU now protects American workers in the garment industry.

But think for a moment about the clothing we buy that is made in Vietnam, China, India, Indonesia and other countries where labor is cheap and plentiful. Unfortunately, we are still buying and wearing clothing made in sweatshops, albeit sweatshops overseas.

In addition, when runway designs are copied and knock offs appear in stores from Macy’s to Wal-Mart, we are violating the intellectual property of others, stealing their creativity to feed our vanities and save money.

What’s the remedy? Bring back sewing.

Don’t laugh. The decline of individuals sewing and making clothing, is so commonplace that no one feels inadequate if they can’t sew on a button, repair a ripped seam or hem a cuff. There are tailor shops to help out and if the problem seems too big to deal with, we just throw the offending garment away.

Troubled economies make us think about saving money. Instead of moaning about what we don’t have, let’s get excited about the opportunity to learn new skills.

I have watched all the episodes of “The House of Eliott”, the BBC TV series about two upperclass women who were forced to earn their livings when their father died leaving them almost penniless. Necessity inspired them to develop their interest and talents in fashion and open a couture business in London.

Watching their successes and failures and the incredible clothing they wear in each episode reinforces the notion that sewing one’s clothing is not for poor people, but for all people, an opportunity to enjoy creativity, use one’s hands and wear unique clothing without harming anyone else.

When imperious, selfish, greedy manufacturers in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s exploited their workers for profit, public outrage was the catalyst to form labor unions to protect the “help.”

The “help” is still helpless overseas, far away from our daily lives so that we don’t notice and blithely ignore the injustices they are subject to.

Bring back sewing, knitting, crocheting, all handicrafts so that we can appreciate the talent these crafts require, make what we can’t afford and stop exploitation abroad.

2 Responses to “Bring Back Sewing at Home”

  1. marianne Says:

    You are right. The results of using your hands to create are many! It brings tranquility. It brings a sense of value. It brings home the investment of yourself into the life of another, if you give away your creation. It brings a sense of purpose and feelings of fulfillment and joy, as well as a sense of accomplishment, so much more than a trip to Macy’s or Walmart;-)

  2. Natalee Says:

    Great job on your blog.

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