Sewing and crafts for the WPA 1930’s

From the Library of Congress

Love these old posters from the WPA.  As with anything the government does the WPA had its share of controversies as well as successes.  I find the idea of training, educating people to learn sewing and handcrafts to be pretty darn cool.  Many participants of the WPA were women.  Women of the time still did a lot of their sewing by hand.   WPA classes taught women how to sew with machines, pattern drafting, knitting and more.  Some women were put to work making bedding, clothing and other items for hospitals.  This sewing skill would come in handy during the war years with women going to work in factories making various fiber items for the war effort.

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8 thoughts on “Sewing and crafts for the WPA 1930’s

  1. Here, Here, Its such a shame that most kids can’t even sew a button on. Hierarchy of Needs I suspect, they don’t need to. Where as during the war it was Make-do and Mend. They are missing out though on a wonderful productive, creative pass-time.

  2. I’ve never thought about this, but perhaps it was an outgrowth of the war effort that Home Economics classes were incorporated into the public school system. I took Home Ec as a required course in 7th and 8th grade and an an elective in High School. I think that’s all been phased out now. Interesting topic, thanks for sharing the cool poster.

    • Exactly. I unfortunately didn’t take Home Ec and I sure could have used a cooking class. I know in my area you would be hard pressed to find a home economics class at the jr or senior level. It’s up to the parents or possibly paying for classes.

      • Yes, I notice how learning to sew is so popular with the 20 to 30 year olds and they pay substantial fees for the classes to learn basic things that were provided in school. It started happening in the 1970’s with the “women’s liberation” movement (sheesh… that phrase sounds so archaic now). It was considered sexist to have girls learning the domestic arts. Now learning the “domestic arts” has become a privilege of sorts.
        When I went to University, I started as a Home Economics major with the intention of becoming a Home Economist. The School of Home Economics doesn’t exist at my university anymore, nor are there any Home Economist positions. Good thing I changed majors, huh?!. 🙂

        • I’m still amazed at the “craft/sewing” biz. It’s a billion dollar industry or something crazy like that. And, I’ve been doing it for forever. But, alas I did not major in Trend Forecasting. And, not to be too sentimental but I think it’s a crying shame we don’t have those classes, I think high schoolers could really benefit from it.

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