Monday, January 30, 2012

Seaworthy Seams


What do a sailor and a sewing machine have in common?

A lot more than I imagined.

When I wrote up my profile for my Etsy shop, I posed that question, the answer being that I sewed in memory of a sailor. 

What I didn’t realize was that sailors actually sewed sometimes!

thumbnail sailors

Sailors of the Steel Navy had a constant need for someone to sew. Men with a sewing machine and skill could make money creating fancy variations of standard uniforms, proudly worn by sailors on liberty. These custom made uniforms adhered to Navy regulations, but featured higher quality material and embroidering. Sewing was also an essential skill in the maintenance of the ship. Repair work on hammocks, canvas awnings, and even the sails of early steel ships required a nimble hand.

(From A Sailor’s Life in the New Steel Navy,

sailors sewing

It’s always been easy to love a man in uniform.  But a man in uniform who also knows his way around a sewing machine? 

USS Richmond 1900 Lay aloft

I’m on board with that!


  1. The image at first could leave us in "stitches." But I'll bet those sailors were really good at sewing, and that they were in great demand. Kudos to them for making it a part of the fabric of their navy lives ;)

  2. I'm on board with that too:) Great images..They were in fact, the Greatest Generation!

  3. How fascinating - I never thought of it before!

  4. I guess I'd never stopped to think about the need for sewing skills for the navy. I suspect whoever had mad sewing skills probably made a nice bit of cash on the side!

  5. This is awesome. I sewed in HS and had very little patience for it but was always very proud of what I made.

  6. I have very fond memories of my Dad in his dress whites and his Aqua Velva. Good times.

  7. Thank you, all of you!

    I spent a wonderful day with Amy-she had a school break today-and I was so flattered to check in here and see and read each and every one of these wonderful comments! Valerie xx

  8. What great photos! Those are images not often seen. :O)

  9. I like the pictures! Sailers being able to sew makes sense to me, but it is something I never thought about.

    My uncle was in the Navy during WW II. From what I hear, he could do about anything with his hands (and brain). He knitted sweaters for everyone in his family before he died! So, I'll bet he sewed on ship.

  10. I love how you take an everyday subject, like sewing, and use your writer's needle and thread to weave in history.

    I found this post very interesting. It does make sense that some sailors had to know to sew. If you're out to sea, it's hard to go visit the local seamstress:~)

  11. It makes sense now that I think about it, who else was going to sew those things? And I'm with you, a man with any type of domestic muscle is hunky to me too!