Retro Sewing Sunday – Machine Embroidery by Dorothy Benson

Visiting the 1950s in todays post.

Machine Embroidery - Cover
Machine Embroidery – Cover

I bought this book, well more of a soft cover 79 page pamphlet, for £1.50 a couple of years ago.  The 1950s style cover appealed to me – I like the colours and that it is an illustration, not a photograph.  There isn’t a publication date printed, but according to the internet it was first published in 1952.

I didn’t know anything about the author, however a quick 10 minutes on the internet has revealed a small amount of information (see links below).  Dorothy Benson worked for the Singer sewing machine company from 1916 to 1960 in their embroidery department.  She also stitched designs for the embroiderer Rebecca Crompton.  I was quite surprised to find the book seems to be going for quite high prices on the internet at the moment, one went on ebay earlier this year for £41, and there is one on there at the moment for £19.99, and one currently for sale on Etsy for £54.15.

Machine Embroidery Inside Cover
Machine Embroidery
Inside Cover

There is a well written introduction – my favourite paragraph is:

“Our hope is that no longer will the family sewing machine be regarded merely as the household drudge for sewing long seams, but the means for enjoyment in producing beautiful, decorative needlework”.
I wondered if this was a hint to the crafters of the second world war  to get making for pleasure, not necessity?  Also, with the book being from the Singer brand, perhaps there was a commercial aspect to it.  Trying to get people to look at their machines for far more than making clothes would appeal to a wider audience.

Each project/technique is numbered in the book, and referred to as a lesson. There are 25 in total with lots of photographs.  The lessons include cording, wool embroidery and granite stitch.  I thought this piece of work below was exquisite, an interesting design and the stitching is fabulous.  The note underneath says it uses techniques from three of the lessons.

Machine Embroidery
Machine Embroidery

Being a quilter I liked seeing the lesson on quilting, and the further on in the book there is a lesson on free quilting.  Most quilters see to think of this as a recent technique, but heres the proof it’s not.

Free Quilting
Free Quilting

I used a few webpages to collect information for this post – links are…herehere and here.

(Oh, and husband, if you are reading this and noticing the prices at the top, the book is not to go on ebay.  It is lovely to look at and is an excellent design and embroidery technique resource.  If this disappears, so will one of your records..!) x

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One thought on “Retro Sewing Sunday – Machine Embroidery by Dorothy Benson

  1. Flying Blind November 10, 2013 / 8:47 pm

    I think that is fair warning to Mr B!
    Love those flowers x

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