Working in the Fashion industry
Recently I was directed to a sewing site which was more about professional sewing but it reminded me of my youth. My first ever job was working at a small boutique fashion knitwear place called Sigrid Styleknit….I did Google the name and got one photograph in some Australian migrant archives.
Working in that industry must run in the family as my mother ran her brother’s knitting mill in Germany when the “hired” help didn’t materialize and orders were piling in. More on that maybe on another occasion.
My job amongst other things was to write out the sequence of how the garment was put together. Basically a garment construction plan! Which machinist the said garment went to and in what order, the accessories used plus much more.
For example the material started at the steam pressing table straight from the knitting room with its order label tag swinging from the side…style 1347; size SSW; colour red; order Judells (I think they are still around). From here it proceeded to the cutting table and began its long journey through the work room being moved from one section to another. where most of the girls were from European counties…for example Italy, Greek, Polish, Czech. It went to an over locker girl to sew shoulders together and to neaten the side seams. Then the sewing machine girl to do side seams and sleeve seams. Back to over locker to set in sleeves. To the linker machine which I thankfully didn’t get to use as it is very fine eye straining work in the putting on of a knitted edging without missing a stitch. Like this one I had done on a favourite Cardigan of my husband many moons ago!
Then onto to a blind stitch hemmer for sleeves and bottom hem edge…plus a myriad other jobs to create the finished garment with unique buttons and hand sewn buttonholes to its final inspection for flaws and package into order boxes to be delivered by Comet Freight throughout Australia.
At the beginning of each new range, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring one job I remember doing was following a new garment right through each process. I had to time with a stop watch the different stages for the office to include in the costing.
Writing it like this makes me marvel what I actually learnt and did as I gained experience …me a young, shy, naive girl. I had no idea what I wanted to do for a job and it was only that my father had done some work on the big industrial knitting machines that I ended up there. That quite often happened I think as once you left school you just went to the first job available unless you were specialising or going to business college…for example my hubby just wanted to leave school and work. His first job ended up being what he then did most of his working life in International Airfreight with its myriad changes.
Thinking back, I was only young and straight out of school at sixteen. I did an apprenticeship, went to night school for three year doing examination courses in advanced dressmaking and tailoring. Also learning pattern making ( really hard ) where we had to draft patterns on blue paper in quarter scale. I left work when I was about 22 before our eldest was born. A lifetime ago. Later on I wished I’d been older to fully understand and appreciate the concepts of all this dressmaking.
But it did serve me well through the years as I sewed for myself and our children when it was expensive to buy ready-made and have always mended. I have sewn curtains for our homes and made bags and know how to make do and repair. So in essence my first job set me up with Life Skills….what more could a girl ask for.
What about you.
Joining with Frontier Dreams, a Waldorf schooling creative mum
Some old photos I found taken between 1967-1970.
First one was the advert for my job and the second was a photo shoot for Sigrid Styleknit. Young blonde me in back and Sigrid the designer in black sunglasses in front. It was a Candid snap taken for Sigrid….the other ladies were well known Adelaide models whose names I cannot recall now.
The fashion industry seems so foreign to me. My sewing skills extend to those learnt in Year 8 textiles – so I’m pretty hopeless. I’d love to be better, but it’s hard to be motivated when it is now often more expensive to sew your own clothes than buy cheap imported ones (which I always feel a bit guilty about when you think about the sweat shop labour, but off point…) Thanks for sharing your experiences
Hi Danielle and thanks for visiting. I know the prices of clothing cannot compare to making from scratch, but there were times when it was the best option in my life. Now I don’t need to sew much as I have plenty but I’d love to sew maybe pants for the little grandsons. Alexa
This is so interesting Alexa! I wish I could sew. I did learn in high school and my hem was never straight!! My grandma used to sew me dresses for church as a little girl but now everything is mass produced and affordable. I still love buying hand made outfits though because of their unique design. Sewing is a great skill to have!
Thanks for visiting Bec. Yes it is a great skill even though I don’t need to use it much these days except for mending and trying to best fix those jeans inner front pockets on some still good jeans of hubby’s. x
This is fascinating. I can’t believe so many people were involved in each garment. That is a lovely photo of you and your mother too. Both of my grandmothers were great sewers. My mother didn’t inherit the skill though and I have never been taught. It would be lovely to make my own clothes though. Thanks for sharing. Dropping in via #teamIBOT
Thanks clever lady for visiting
I think as with many things in life we don’t realize how much is involved. Whether it’s sewing, gardening, caring for the elderly or disabled or family life. But we can learn what we need and what we are able to along the way. x
Wow, what an incredible experience, and what useful skills you learned! My mother sewed all of our church dresses and party dresses when we were children, but these days it’s become cheaper to buy clothes than make them. Like Bec, I do still buy handmade dresses for my girls because I love the quality and attention to detail. I can’t sew at all myself, hubby took sewing at school (a most unlikely candidate – he’s a truck driver by profession!) and so he is in charge of the mending in our house.
Thanks for visiting Emma and thanks for sharing your story too. Yes sewing was more part of life in days gone by but it served its purpose. Then it usually was cheaper to make as no imports and clothing was much more expensive. For example a shirt hubby bought with his first pay cost a large portion of his wage. Now we can get by with the cheaper imports depending on your lifestyle. We aren’t slaves to brands and never have been….
I was given some beautifully hands smocked dresses for my granddaughter over the years from a dear friend…they never wore out and no more girls so now we need to find someone to pass onto
I do love your comment that your hubby is in charge of mending. That is so fantastic….we all have some sort of skills so can help each other out….I might use those comments for a blog post one day if I may. Lovely x
This is very interesting.. my mum was taught to sew, and she has the biggest button collection ever because my nana used to cut off all buttons from old clothes before they were made into something else or made into rags. I wish I had the passion for sewing
Thanks for visiting Emily and sharing your story too. Button jars are interesting as they hold so much history. Like the saying, if these walls could talk!
We can’t all sew but I wish that I could be a bit more computer savvy as seeing my computer geek son lives in Texas
I so wish I knew how to sew! I had to make a skirt in Home Economics in high school and I still managed to bung that up. My teacher ended up having to finish it! Sewing is definitely a life skill!
Thanks for coming by and commenting. Yes for me sewing was/is a life skill and not everyone can do so , but it doesn’t matter cause we all have different gifts, strengths abilities. The whole lot together helps make the world and our life go. X
Hi Alexa! Loved reading about your first job it sounded very interesting and as you mention it gave you good skills for the rest of your life. I still remember the dresses that you made for me all those years ago when you working here!
Hi Sharon and thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. Wow, it was a very long time ago that I did that sewing for you. Where have all the years gone…in a blink. Hope you are well and maybe I’ll “see” you on here again. Take care x
I think that’s an awesome first job to have. Much better than mine which really did not much to set me up for life.
Sometimes I wish it was more like that now. Instead of studying everything for a life time, you could just walk into a job and learn it as you go.
I never learned how to sew or really do anything with clothing or fabric. My mother didn’t do any of that when I was growing up, so I guess I just never did learn as a result. My first job was at a fast food restaurant, so I didn’t learn any practical skills, but a lot of soft skills!
Thanks for visiting. Doesn’t matter what skills we learn during life, they are all stepping stones and of some value at some time or another…..even though we may not quite realize it just then
Love your website/blog. Lots of everyday common sense there.
My first job was just at Coles but I’d never had much chance to deal with money so it was a great way to learn to deal with it. My mother was my sewing teacher too. I really wish I took more in instead of letting her do it because she was better at it.
So interesting to read about this and I love the b/w older pictures : )
Thanks for visiting. I had a trip down memory lane with this old photograph
I envy your sewing skills. I pretty much had to outsource my sewing attempts at school or I would have failed and it was only a simple mini skirt.
Thanks for visiting and commenting. We all have our skills with some having more than others. But I try to remember that it takes every skill to make the world go round….extra skill I WOULD like is to understand computer things more for my blog. Unfortunately our geek computer loving son lives in Texas
I love your blog, you’re a clever lady and am glad that I spent some time again browsing through. Be back again soon.
Really interesting read, sounds like you are have a real passion and talent for sewing. X #brilliantblogposts
This was such an interesting post. You have a wealth of experience!! Thank you for sharing it with us and those photographs are wonderful!
I myself am basically self taught in sewing and knitting; our school made us make pillows one time so I knew the basics, but the rest I’ve taught myself. I can only hope to one day learn as much as you.