You can listen to a story about home sewing on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition discussing the strategies of machine manufacturers to reverse the decline in home sewing since the 1950’s.
Fifty years ago, most American households had sewing machines. But sewing machine sales began to decline as more and more women left to work outside the home. In recent years, however, sewing machine companies have tried to reverse the decline by reaching out to a new market.
Over the past several years, machine manufacturers have developed simpler yet far more expensive machines -over $5,000- for home use (you could buy two new industrials for that price). To some degree, this strategy has been successful judging from scattered news reports reporting that home sewing is actually on the upswing.
Speaking of home sewing machines, I’m reading an interesting book called From the American System to Mass Production 1800-1932 which says that home sewing machines were the first mass produced product in the world designed for consumer consumption. Technically, guns were the first mass manufactured product but there was only one customer; the US government. According to the book, the strategy of expensive machines is nothing new. Even in the 1860’s, Singer produced expensive machines which ranged in price from $110 to $135.
And speaking of NPR and the US government, you should be aware that the Bush administration has proposed budget cuts amounting to 200 million dollars for fiscal 2006. I can only hope you’ll register your disapproval; start by visiting the website of your local affiliate.