The Point of the Needle: Why Sewing Matters (Hardcover)

The Point of the Needle: Why Sewing Matters By Barbara Burman Cover Image
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From the pleasures of mending to the problems of fast fashion, an intimate look at the creativity, community, and deep meaning sewed into every stitch.
Tens of millions of people sew for necessity or pleasure every day, yet the craft is surprisingly under-appreciated. The Point of the Needle redresses the balance: this is a book that argues for sewing’s place in our lives. It celebrates not only sewing’s recent resurgence but sewists’ creativity, well-being, and community. Barbara Burman chronicles new voices of people who sew today, by hand or machine, to explore what they sew, what motivates them, what they value, and why they mend things, revealing insights into sewing’s more intimate stories. In our age of superfast fashion with its environmental and social injustices, this eloquent book makes a passionate case for identity, diversity, resilience, and memory—what people create for themselves as they stitch and make.

About the Author

Barbara Burman is a writer and former academic at the University of Southampton and the University of the Arts, London. She is coauthor of The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660-1900 and the editor of The Culture of Sewing. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and lives near Cambridge.

Praise For…

“Burman was the coauthor of the well-received book called The Pocket: A Secret History of Women’s Lives, but in this new book, she has a much bigger canvas: to rescue sewing from the twilight and to celebrate it as a fundamental human activity. . . . This book is a much broader one that seeks to shine a light on the extraordinary human endeavour of stitching.”
— Haptic & Hue, Book of the Year 2023

"[Burman] pulls off turning a lifetime's research, including her own Our Sewing Stories, into a book by having a strong, thematic narrative, fluent style and empathy with the more personal aspects of needlecraft. . . . The book charts the social history of what is still perceived as a 'gendered practice.' It also explores needlework's moral and religious associations and the benefits it offers to well-being. . . . At a more sensory level, evocative descriptions of scissors crunching through cloth, 'earthy and seductive' Harris tweed, silk pleated 'into rills like the delicate underside of a field mushroom,' 'swishy, flowy' synthetic jerseys and old-fashioned lutestring, fustian and dimity will resonate with lovers of haberdasheries."
— Country Life

"Chronicling the intimate stories of people who sew today, this ‘trenchant’ argument for the importance of sewing in our lives looks at identity, diversity, resilience and memory as it explores why we sew, what motivates us and why we mend things."
— Bookseller

"This excellent book unpicks the culture of sewing in fascinating detail. Exploring the history and use of its most basic requirements—cloth, thread, needle, and scissors—Burman delves deeper into the skill, the joy, the challenge of needlework through the words of past and present stitchers to offer an inspiring insight into why sewing matters."
— Clare Hunter, author of "Threads of Life"

"Burman's insightful journey through the art of sewing delves into its transformative power, weaving together the threads of history, craftsmanship, and personal stories, inviting readers to embrace the profound joys and remarkable significance found within this remarkable craft."
— Sarai Mitnick, founder of Seamwork and author of "The Colette Sewing Handbook"

"This is a very human history of the complex meanings of sewing. Burman skilfully conveys the message that sewing has multiple lives, from the emotionally-charged making of gifts for loved ones to the waste-mountain producer that is the modern fashion industry. Above all it showcases how important sewing is to human experience and the huge impact it has on those who experience it."
— Ruth Singer, artist and author

"A book chockfull of historical research and oral history that looks deeply into why and how humans sew, make and repair fabric. A beautiful reminder of how sewing can extend further than ourselves—it can connect us with past, present and future sewists; help us gain awareness of and autonomy from fast fashion; and give us the tools to show up more authentically as we do so."
— Betsy Greer, author of "Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism"

"A timely, well-researched book coming at a point when sewing has been reclaimed by a population free from the limiting gendered experience of school domestic science. The Point of the Needle sets the scene for sewing’s renaissance."
— Polly Leonard, founder and editor, "Selvedge" magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9781789147193
ISBN-10: 1789147190
Publisher: Reaktion Books
Publication Date: December 15th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English