I actually wonder about how charity sewing would fit in to the fancy
vs plain sewing rule in Mansfield Park there is one evening (I think
they have company over but I can't remember) when Mrs Norris complains
that Fanny should be sewing and if she has nothing of her own to work
on there is plenty of work in the 'poor box'. Implying that making
things for the poor (almost certainly underclothes, the workwoman's
guide is only slightly later than this novel and it has a lot to say
about making underclothes and baby clothes as charity) was a normal
and expected occupation for young ladies. If it was somehow clear that
what you were making was for the poor of the parish instead of your
own family working on that in public would show off your charitable
virtues (not a bad thing for a gentleman to look for in a wife as
anything that makes your tenants happier is likely to make your estate
more stable and profitable).

On Fri, Dec 18, 2015 at 6:23 AM, Lavolta Press <f...@lavoltapress.com> wrote:
> I get the impression that in the nineteenth century there was "private"
> versus "public" needlework.  Unmarried young women, at least, tended to do
> mending and make underclothes (shirts fell into that category) only within
> the family (when no callers were expected) or at most, only in front of
> intimate female friends. Their public, "fine" needlework showed off their
> skills in embroidery, netting, and so forth. When they made calls, they
> might be embroidering a flounce for a dress, or embroidering a fire screen,
> but not mending stockings.  Unpretentious matrons and mothers of large
> families might do plain sewing and mending in a more public way, but elegant
> married women, not.
> Fran
> Lavolta Press
> www.lavoltapress.com
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