Sew for Victory: A History

Happy Wednesday, lovely people!

While I continue working on my Beignet skirt (progress has slowed a little while I’ve been stuck in IT training), I thought I would take the opportunity to give you a little insight into history behind the blog name!

If it’s not already clear from the vintage-inspired style here, I LOVE history. I spent five summers working as a tour guide in a stately home and, even though my career life is totally unrelated, I’m still pretty much taken with all things historical. My decision to take up sewing was totally motivated by a desire to dictate my own style – inspired by the eras that I love and without reference to current fashions and trends. So, when starting this blog, I thought what better than to take a dip into one of my favourite periods – the 1940s – for name inspiration.

sew_for_victory

The Sew for Victory campaign finds its origins in the Second World War, as part of America’s efforts to mobilise women to become involved in the war effort. It rings with similarities to campaigns here in the UK, like the famous ‘dig for victory’ efforts. For me, titling the blog in honour of this historical chapter has two purposes. The first is, clearly, to get across that this is a sewing blog, with a vintage theme. The other ties with my day job as a PhD Human Rights researcher. Sewing – as with other ‘domestic’ pursuits – has an aura of the problematic about it when it comes to talking about women’s rights and their advancement. Obviously, it’s tinged with the idea of domesticity, and reminds us of a time when women didn’t have a choice but to become specialists in these activities. As a feminist who also has an interest in these traditionally domestic interests (I LOVE to bake and knit #granny), I used to find it difficult to reconcile my love of the 1940s housewife image with my unwavering belief in gender equality. But what we, as modern sewers, do differently is make a choice. We’re empowered because it is our decision to be business women, or academics, or mothers, or sewers, or artists, or scientists. We choose. I choose to sew and bake because I love it. I choose to pursue an academic career in a male-dominated field because it is my right to do so. And if I choose to forgo that career to work full-time as a mother, that it also my choice.

There is no superior path. Only choices. The Sew for Victory campaign is a relic from a time when women didn’t have a choice – but they used the space they had to mark out territory in the wider world. They used the avenues open to them and pushed for more. And I want this blog to be a reminder to me that I owe my choices to those women. So, in that sense, I’m sewing in recognition of the victories won, but also the victories that we’re still waiting for.

Whether you’re reading this because you’re a sewer, non-sewer or my mother (hello Mama Clarke!), and whether you’re a woman or a man, you’re so so welcome here. I love this community and everything I’ve already learnt from it – in such a short space of time. So thank you all for being here, taking the time to read my musings on life, and sticking by my side while I sew for victory.

Love you all x

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3 thoughts on “Sew for Victory: A History

  1. Cate says:

    I love that your name was chosen as a deliberate historical reference. It’s great to see other bloggers in traditionally domestic spheres giving thought to the history of our crafts and to the implications in terms of gender roles. I’ve got a BA in Women and Gender Studies and I used to knit in class because it helps me to focus, retain lectures, and not fidget. I was constantly being given a hard time by teachers and students though for having such traditionally feminine interests. My standard answer was “femininity and feminism are not mutually exclusive” and in fact to me the point of feminism is that we can all choose to pursue the things that make us happy. Saying that a woman shouldn’t be domestic because she now can have a career is just as bad as saying that she has to be domestic because that is a woman’s role.

    Like

    • sewforvictory says:

      It’s really interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on this – and I totally agree. It’s just as narrow-minded to presume that women’s interests have to lie exclusively in ‘careers’ or outside of ‘traditionally female tasks’. It is totally about the freedom to choose. It’s especially interesting to hear that you were having that kind of experience as part of BA that focuses on issues related to gender equality and women’s progress. So cool to have your insight on this! x

      Like

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