SEWING PERIOD CLOTHING: Another Kind of Hands-On

My oldest daughter, Katherine Niven, wearing one of the period dresses she designs and sews.

If you have kids, you might have noticed how aptitudes and interests run in the family while also sometimes taking turns of their own. My oldest daughter, Katherine, is a case in point. Her family line (mine too, of course) includes a number people from different generations going back to at least the 1600s who designed, built and made things. We’ve got cabinetmakers, farmers, stonemasons, entrepreneurs and builders in our family line, but Katherine’s take on this creative legacy is unique. Her thing is designing and sewing period clothing. She’s taken this long-time interest of hers to the world, too, with online videos of her work on her website, She’d love to have you visit. Even if you’re not into sewing or clothes, I think you’ll find this whole thing interesting because it extends beyond just my Katherine. There’s a growing number of young people (Katherine’s 25 years old as of this writing) with an interest in the past that you wouldn’t think go together. Corsets, of all things, are a particular case in point.

I’m not sure how it happened, but corsets have been saddled with a reputation for being uncomfortable implements of patriarchal torture of women. Everyone knows this and has known it for decades, right? Well, then how come my Katherine not only makes and wears her own corsets (no patriarchy involved), but she tells me she enjoys the extra comfort and support they offer. Apparently there’s an entire movement of young women who find that they love corsets and wear them all the time. Below you’ll see her wearing one of her home-designed and home-sewn corset creations. Click on the image for a video and article she created about making this particular corset.

I’ve never thought of myself as a clothing person, especially since I wear nothing but work clothes 6 days a week. My current pair of work pants are made of heavy canvas duck material, thick enough to make a prospector’s tent and I’ve worn the same pair almost every work day for 2  years. I’m certainly not a slave to fashion, as you can see, but the crazy thing is I really do admire older clothing styles. Katherine’s tulip skirt is a perfect example. Click below for a video and article that tells the story of this project.

Katherine and her husband Paul have three boys (2 to 6 years old), and they create the videos and writing for on their own. It’s a serious hobby for them, and they’d love to have you visit. Check it out, sign up for Katherine’s newsletter, and see how the younger generation can sometimes do surprisingly interesting things, as in this case, bringing back old things and making them new again.