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In the first half of the 19th century, boys in the middle and upper classes were taught traditional academic subjects while girls were “schooled” in what was considered “female accomplishments” —music, watercolor painting, comportment, manners, and sewing. For these girls, sewing, or ‘fancy work’ was a required skill and refined art, whereas for girls in the lower classes, knowing how to sew was a basic necessity and a way to gain employment. This made sewing the great leveler. It was a skill shared, although to varying degrees, by women of all economic backgrounds and social classes. While the importance and perception of all women learning at least basic sewing skills has changed over time, there is no doubt that needle work as an art form and craft continue to attract new crafters, fans, and now collectors to the hobby. In this edition and our August issue we look back on two centuries of needle work, and the stories, makers, and technology behind collectible objects made of needle and thread.
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