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The History of Sewing and Trimming

Apr 1, 2008
Even in centuries past, people have always desired fashion in one form or another that was more than simply functional, but had traits of beauty as well. While you will find that a dress will cover up and keep a person warm, there is a world of difference from a plain dress and a dress that is truly stunning.

In times past, fashion designs were elevated from boring to beautiful by using the art of trimming. Fashion items such as braids, ribbons, lace, even tassels are all excellent examples of trimming that were placed in high fashion regard back in the 18th century. Compare this to today's fashion, where decorations such as these are regarded as tacky on our modern clothing. This fashion change is due to the fact that the evolution of sewing and trimming in the last century are closely linked.

Trimming as High Fashion

Elaborate Sewing and trimming done by skilled hands were regarded as signs of status, especially in Victorian fashion, where a person had to look just right so that they could be accepted as a member of high society of that era.

This was a time before the introduction of the sewing machine, hence all these embellishments to the clothing were accomplished by hand. The effect of this was that people had to pay by the hour for a seamstress to complete all the sewing and trimming for each garment which made it very expensive. The result of this economic effect was that a dress with a lot of trim added to it became a status symbol. since it represented an individual that had the financial means to afford such a garment.

Enter the Sewing Machine

At the turn of the century, sewing machines such as the ones manufactured by the Singer Company grew in popularity and made sewing a much easier job then it previously was. The simple, easy to utilize design of the sewing machine made the job of sewing and trimming more complex garments at home a snap.

The most obvious effect of this was that when these machines became more popular with the masses, they slowly declined in popularity with the people of the upper classes. The end result of this was that the popularity of sewing and trimming in the field of fashion were inversely proportional; that is to say, as one rose in popularity, the other fell.

Step Into The Modern Era

Since the decade of the 1930's, trimming in its many forms has stayed fairly low in popularity. Some noteworthy exceptions have been items such as fringed vests, manufactured in imitation country styles, which was very well liked in the decade of the 1990's and also popular with elaborately trimmed home fashion in the 1980's

However, given the era since it's last decline, trimming has begun to appear again in expensive fashions, including the esteemed clothing manufactured by the House of Chanel as well as other fashion houses, which have created a market that is based on haute couture. This primarily consists of high fashion as well as custom clothing designs.

This brings up full circle back to the traditions of the Victorian ages. with dresses made from hand sewing and trimming that is complex and elaborate. It appears that as long as there is a market for high quality, handcrafted clothing, there will always be a place for trimming somewhere within the fashion world.
About the Author
Listen to Corbin Newlyn as he shares his insights as an expert author and an avid writer in the field of fine apparel. If you would like to learn more go to Sewing Pattern advice and at Sewing Accessory tips.
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