What is Plain Needlework?

[plain needle-work, plain work, plain sewing, hand sewing]

Plain needlework was a term was commonly used to distinguish utilitarian hand sewing  from the sewing techniques necessary in dressmaking, tailoring, or fancywork. It required dexterity and precision rather than design and construction skills, and was used to make underclothing such as shirts and chemises, household linen, or any items that would be frequently laundered.

What is the Lancasterian System? (and what in the world does it have to do with sewing?)

[Lancasterian system of tuition, monitorial system, mutual instruction]

The Lancasterian System of Education, originated by Joseph Lancaster (1778-1838), was a method of incremental education in which students who had mastered a subject assisted those who were still learning. It was applied to needlework as well as reading, writing, and arithmetic, and therefore widely disseminated as the first published method of sewing instruction. Its simplicity and effectiveness made it a model for sewing curricula throughout the nineteenth century.

What is the Plain Sewing Preservation Society?

[society, organization, alliance, fellowship]

The Plain Sewing Preservation Society is a society whose purpose is to preserve plain sewing. It is incorporeal; members need not be. They must, however, have an amiable and courteous disposition because it is a Polite Society. A purchase from our website (Etsy, that is) or notable contribution to our knowledge of plain sewing by providing images, quotes, texts, links, &c. may entitle you to membership and a (corporeal) token thereof. Please inquire.

MRWho are you?

[female person, wife, mother, sister, friend, teacher]

I am Melissa Roberts and I have been enchanted by plain sewing all my life. My interest in the history of plain needlework instruction has led to researching, collecting, learning, teaching, and writing – not to mention a budget deficit, trifocals, and the exasperation of family. I work as an adult literacy instructor and live in the mountains of north Georgia. You can write to me if you like: m@twothreadsback dot com.

Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

4 thoughts on “About

  1. I am so thrilled that I found your blog! You are a person after my own heart. Thank you for stopping by my blog too. I don’t usually put links to posts in comments, but in your case I want to be sure you see this post: https://textileranger.com/2012/01/22/not-so-run-of-the-mill/ . It’s a dress from (I’m guessing) 1845 and it’s all totally handsewn. I have changed blog themes a couple of times and the pictures aren’t all nicely in line anymore, but still, I think it is the kind of thing you are interested in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you know that’s exactly what I thought when I found your blog?? And I’ll have to tell you (soon!) how I came upon it, because you led me to some info that I’m so ashamed of not having sought sooner: the stories of the women who wrote those sewing manuals! Can’t wait to explore your posts! Thank you!!!!


  2. I am glad to have found your post, “Wearing Her Heart on Her Sleeve,” while searching for info on mid 19th c children’s clothing. Yes, I love the everyday cotton prints, and these white embroidered baby clothes that you show are scrumptious!



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