Living Like A Pioneer Now Cutting Edge


Did you hear about the newest trend? It was invented in prehistoric times, and we’ve spent thousands of years developing technology so that we don’t have to do it, but now urbanites are discovering it and so it’s cool again! It’s sewing!

The New York Times reports on the hot old sensation that’s sweeping the nation of Brooklyn, from brownstone to gleaming brownstone.

Brooklyn, fiercely proud of its independence from Manhattan, is an expanding frontier for the Do It Yourself movement – resourceful residents are baking bread, raising chickens for eggs, keeping bees for honey or simply renovating brownstones themselves.

I bet that next there will be a whole big website where people can sell things that they made themselves! Oh, wait, that already happened?

At any rate, people who have discovered that sewing is great are free spirited manic pixie dream girls, the new punks of a punkless society, like Lady Gaga if Lady Gaga made novelty hand stitched stuffed animals and tote bags for fun. Quoth the Times, on one of the sewing craze’s biggest fans,

Ms. Beaumont never followed the crowd, growing up in Pittsburgh embroidering, and enjoying the meals made by her mother, a chef and a baker. She majored in English literature at Bryn Mawr College, where she rode a unicycle in leggings and a skirt.
Every day she kisses her sleek white high-tech Bernina sewing machine, next to which she has meticulously organized bobbins by color, and spools of thread. Although hers is an intense, solitary passion, it is also meditative, in sync with much of the D.I.Y. culture.

I’m all for people connecting with the labor that goes into making their clothing, or their vegetables, or their eggs. It’s amazing to be able to make something you wear. Just ask me in fifth grade when I made myself a sweet-ass blue iridescent windsuit with a half zipper on my mom’s Singer (in pictures, it was so very ugly, but I was so proud of it). Or the time I ripped my jacket pocket on the handle of DeBartolo Hall in college and was able to stitch it up when I got home from class. Or the time I saved a subzero trip to the dry cleaner when I sewed the button back on my peacoat myself. I don’t begrudge people for wanting to learn how to sew. It’s nice to feel self-sufficient.

But sweet lord almighty. This- along with all of the other puzzling urban back-to-the-land trends springing forth from liberal cities from coast to coast- is something that we Rural Poors were taught when we were kids, and no one was doing a Times write up about it then.
America’s Hottest New Trends! Modified Hand Me Downs for Second Grade School Pictures!
Making Your Female Children Wear Matching Clothes For Fun
A Stitch In Time Saves A Nine Pack of Hanes: Conserve Your Socks By Darning Them

If Laura Ingalls Wilder were somehow terrifyingly reanimated, she’d laugh her ass off at the urban near-fetishization of pioneer drudgery, to the evolution of manual labor from something that was self sacrificing to something that ventures into self-indulgent territory (like the unicycle riding Brooklyn dwelling English major who kisses her $600 sewing machine every morning). Reading stories like the one in today’s New York Times is like listening to the Green Acres theme song if Eva Gabor sang both parts.

So, keep on keeping on with the breathless tales of the joy of urban gardening and chicken shit cleaning and bee wrangling, yes, also the sewing. There’s a point at which, reading account after account of glowing urbanite who acts like they discovered chores gets tiresome. I reached that point in about 2004.

What will people in Brooklyn “discover” next? My money’s on washing clothes by hand with a washboard and butter churning. Or traveling via wagon.

Sewing, In Brooklyn, As A Way of Life [NYT]

Image via Shutterstock

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