Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Normal School Sewing Book

Today, a post about the Hamilton Normal School Sewing Book, loaned to me years ago by my friend Nicole Weppler, curator of the Gore Bay Museum here on Manitoulin Island.  Above, the sample for beautifully executed patchwork mending.

Patching:   a patch is a piece of material inserted for the purpose of strengthening worn or thin places 
The student's name was Helen J Scott, she was in the grade A class, room 4.  It was 1910. 
Normal school is not where you go to become normal.  Normal School is a term for what we now call teacher's college.  My mother went to Normal School in the 40's.
Sewing is the process of drawing thread through material by means of the needle. 
Cloth is the material made of animal and vegetable fibres
straight stitch
1.       stitches and spaces are of equal length
2.      Looks the same on both sides
3.      Stitches and spaces follow each other straight along the sewing line
4.      The stitch is as small as the cloth will permit 
slanting stitch
1.       Looks the same on both sides
2.      Stitches and spaces are of equal length
3.      Stitches and spaces are at right angles
4.      Stitches are always parallel and so are the spaces
Use – to prevent raw edges from ravelling
slanting stitch
       1.  looks the same on both sides. 
       2.   Stitches and spaces  form right angles.
       3.  Looks like overcasting, but the thread is carried through the body of the cloth and over the edge.
Use  to fasten an edge smoothly to the body of the cloth.  A) hems  b) facings 

Definition- a button hole is  a slit in the material with the edges protected and strengthened by thread and used to slip over a button to hold two pieces of cloth together

Marking – mark where the shank of the button should come.  If cutting with ordinary scissors, mark a point at both ends of the button hole

Cutting – when cutting stick point of scissors in at the shank end of the buttonhole and cut a straight slit the required length.
Do not double the cloth but cut through all the layers at once
Whenever possible, the cut should be straight with the warp or woof

Making – 
1. Make the stitches deep enough to prevent fraying but not to look clumsy
2. Stitches not crowded but close together – just showing the cloth between
3. Begin almost any place with two or three stitches in the same place about the width of the stitch from the edge, hold the thread down firmly with the thumb, throw the thread over the needle to make a loop then draw this firmly and smoothly in place.  
4. Repeat. 

Definition:  Darning is the process of inserting new threads in material in order to repair worn or broken threads
size of bag  width 5" depth 5"
 The book is hand bound with a shoe lace.
I appreciate this book.


  1. Wow, what a treasure. It reminds me of the long entanglement of needlework with life. The examples are beautiful and a little daunting. My stitches aren't that even.

  2. I know.

    The examples show what is expected, and I believe that Helen Scott did each example.

    It's all hand work too.

  3. Thanks so much for posting this and triggering a long-ago memory ... now posted here: http://imgoingtotexas.blogspot.com/2015/02/stitch-in-time-tailoring-101.html

  4. Looks like a workshop I would like to do now and finish with making it all into a book.

  5. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of this amazing book.
    I did teacher training but may never have been allowed in had they been called 'Normal Schools' at the time!

  6. I love the name 'normal' school.

    Has anyone a clue why teacher's colleges in Canada were called this in first half of the 20th century?

  7. judy, closeby is suny potsdam, once called potsdam normal school. it was a teacher's college within new york state's university system. i(i have degrees from buffalo and potsdam state-both were teacher's colleges once upon a time). here's a url for more info on potsdam, which is located about 25 miles from the canadian border. http://www.potsdam.edu/about/bicentennial/history.cfm

  8. What a wonderful thing to have.

    I nEw Zealand we still have Normal Schools. Hre is a statement from Karori Normal School which I visited in the course of my training years ago.

    KNS is a ‘Normal School’. As a ‘Normal School’ we have an ongoing relationship with Victoria University of Wellington regarding Initial Teacher Education. We play an active role in the training of student teachers and providing input to the university about the training programmes offered for student teachers. This relationship is a very positive one for our school. We endeavour to offer high-quality models of practical classroom teaching, to provide the link for student teachers with the theoretical emphasis of the university.

  9. "A normal school is a school created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name."

    My stitches have never, will never be that "even".

  10. I did a little research too and found out that in the 1800's, teaching duties were assigned to the most deserving grade 8 graduate so schools for teacher training were established in an attempt to make a universal standard.

    Also, I like the idea of replicating the book's samples in a workshop.

  11. Oh, if I came across such a treasure I think I would wet myself in excitement! I remember having to make such samples in Home Ec back in the '70's, but we never put them in a book, and I'm sure we weren't as skilful.

  12. Nicole loaned it to me 5 years ago - perhaps more. She actually loaned me two - the Normal School Science book as well, also belonging to Helen Scott. I gave her back the Science book last year - it had drawings in it.

    Just couldn't give up this book, but had not had time to go through it or figure out how I could work with it - because of the circle project and all that busy career stuff - but now I do plan to return it to her in the next few weeks.

    Sad to let it go. I've photographed it and copied the text into my laptop.

    Yes, it is a treasure.

  13. My mom made one of these when she studied tailoring. Sadly, she threw the binder away without asking if I wanted it. Thanks for sharing this, it brings back good memories!

  14. judy, i've returned to this a couple of times. i love the bookness of this, how all this haptic learning is presented in book form. i love the mimeographed descriptions, i love how helen loved that gingham. i am glad you've had time to spend with this book, and have documented it.

  15. When I was studying our degree a friend of mine in the UK allowed me to photograph her mothers teacher training sewing book It was remarkably similar to this and I think must have been created in the late 1930s. It's a small world isn't it.

  16. What a treasure this is Judy!! And I love the name of "Normal School"!!


Thank you for taking the time to connect. Much appreciated.xx