On sewing

I read this hilarious article in the NY Times today. The author talks about how much she abhorred her Home Ec classes in high school –

…of being in that last wave of girls, in the ’70s, who were expected to master the domestic arts in school.

Seventies? What about the mid to late eighties? When I was in high school in India, all the girls had to learn to sew. Needless to say I hated it with a passion. The stitching itself was not terrible, but they insisted that we learn to be able to cut a pattern, change the size of said pattern and other such painful things.

I remember it vividly. We had to make a Jabla (a what??). Basically it was a little, sleeveless top for a child. The sizes we made were for 3-5 year old kids. All the girls had to make one. We were graded on it. You had to get a decent grade since this fed into your national level 10th grade scores. I have no clue what the guys in my class did during this time? Soldering, perhaps?

If it is such a life skill (I agree that being able to sew on a button is definitely a life skill), how come the guys weren’t required to learn it? And why isn’t soldering a life skill I needed to learn? Who do you think knows where the fuse box even is in our house? Ha!

Anyway, after much searching, I found that a Jabla is technically an upper garment worn by Parsi children. At least now I know.

Unlike the journalist at the Times, I have not rediscovered a love for tailoring. I do what I must to survive. Maybe one day if I have a small child that needs a frock stitched for a doll…

  • Guys were too made to learn lot of arts related to stitching (can’t recall exactly). I remember we had a course called SUPW in which we made home decorations items and even stitched a small sweater (my mom did that for me anyway but it was in the curriculum. I think everyone should be taught at least the basics like stitching and cooking…helps in future 🙂

  • In my world, the guys had to do Home Ec classes – two years of needlework, and two years of cooking — this was in Form 1/2, so Year 7/8. I’m proud to have aced them both as well – my Duncan Fearnley cricket bat cushion was a particular highlight. Woodwork, Metalwork, Plastics – everyone did it all.

  • karthik krishnan

    I definitely had to do Home Ec classes. We even made jam from scratch, I remember, apart from knitting a sweater (I made gloves) from just a pattern book. We also had to metalwork and carpentry, but the home ec classes really made me hate going to school… 🙂

  • Shripriya

    Guys, you don’t know how it warms my heart to know that you suffered with me! 😀

    @Sharique – YES! SUPW!! That was it! Socially Useful Productive Work, I think. I can’t for the life of me remember if the guys in my class did the jabla. I clearly don’t remember it (or have blocked it from my memory). I will need to ask them.

    @Fourth Ump – sounds awfully equitable to me. I have to see the cushion at some point. Can you upload an image? 🙂

    @Karthik – Yes, those classes made me hate going to school too. Although I think I used the classes to catch up with friends as we stenciled the jabla out on brown paper…

  • I wish I knew how to sew 🙁

    Instead, I learned how to make deadly throwing stars in metal shop class 🙂

  • I hated needlework in school and I always will hate it. Today if anything needs to be stitched I give it to my husband.

  • Shripriya

    @ August – Come on, a D-I-Y mountain man like you doesn’t know how to sew? Unbelievable! Next time we meet, I’ll trade you sewing lessons for photoshop lessons! 🙂

    @ Mumbai Girl – ROFL. Good thing your husband liked his SUPW classes!