Sewing the Self: Needlework, Femininity and Domesticity In Interwar Britain

Cesare, Carla (2012) Sewing the Self: Needlework, Femininity and Domesticity In Interwar Britain. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis looks at design practice as a method of investigating the relationship between design and identity in interwar Britain; in particular it considers design from the perspective of practice, not solely as the final object or the story of the maker. For it is in the process of making that the varied aspects of design as it is practiced are configured to create the greatest impact on everyday life. This research proposes that the quest to construct one’s identity, in particular a feminine identity, can be demonstrated by the making of goods and objects through the traditionally feminine practice of sewing and needlework, specifically those made at home. It argues that home sewing, as an understudied everyday practice, was intrinsically bound up with ideas of who women were, how they imagined themselves, and how their feminine identities were represented. Between the wars, home-sewing was an integral daily practice for middle-class women that left indelible memories of not only the items made, but of specific types of sewing and design practice, who it was made for and how it was used. It also explores these specific practices during a period of enormous change- culturally, technologically and politically – and particularly important for this study are the themes of femininity and domesticity, as well as the boundaries of private and public life in relation to modernity. Methodologically it focuses on sewing practices by utilizing mass media, specific objects and oral histories to elucidate this. This thesis considers the breadth and extent of home sewing as an everyday practice aligning individual narratives, original source material and theoretical analysis.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: design history, identity, everyday practice, mass media, oral histories
Subjects: V100 History by period
V300 History by topic
W200 Design studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Arts
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
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Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 29 Nov 2013 12:51
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 15:22

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