I went to school in the twilight era of home economics. On crisp winter afternoons in the school's leaf-strewn quad, our friends would crowd outside the kitchen, waiting to get a taste of what we had been working on. Tasters of squashed choux puffs and bicarb tasting scones (the kind that makes your teeth squeak) would make their way out to a clamouring tide of school girls. But one of my favourite subjects was fast losing favour as a too-domestic pursuit in the beckoning age of computers, tech and progress. In our imagined futures, we would command tech offices and would certainly have no use for baking trays or sewing machines – so they simply had to go.
At the time, I thought little more of this period than the opportunity to sew my school dance dresses during class time. By the time university passed, I found myself living in that future, but also swamped with all the debris of the digital world. I hankered for the snip of scissors through some fabric and the whir of the sewing machine.
To me, practical pursuits have a charm that is difficult to resist. But when I picked up sewing again, I found that it was a pastime that had been dead in the water for some time. I flicked through catalogues at the sewing shop, jotting down the numbers of patterns I loved. Each time I did, the assistant came out from the back shaking her head: no stock of this, no stock of that.