Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Perils of Pauline: The Sewing Machine


The Sewing Machine song, as sung by Betty Hutton, is in the opening scene in a 1940’s musical, "The Perils of Pauline". Sadly, the heroine of this film doesn't love her sewing machine...it's a source of hardwork and toil, not hobby and pleasure.

We all those days when things aren't going well, and we can't honestly say that we love our sewing machines. But in earlier times, sewing machines were not for pleasure and hobby but means of earning a living...and a hard one at that.

The term 'sweatshop' came from these places of employment where garment manufacturing took place after the second Industrial Revolution, where sweatshop production of inexpensive clothing displaced members of the tailors guild and replaced them with lower-skilled workers performing "piece work" at lower wages for each piece of a garment or even for each seam, in inferior conditions.

This trend was acceleration by the advent of a practical, foot-powered sewing machine in 1846. It took the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in 1911, in New York City to galvanize awareness of working conditions and change public perception to improve working condtions even to much better place that heroine Pearl White finds herself in the movie "The Perils of Pauline" where she sings about her plight of being 'chained' to a life of toil at her sewing machine....

The Sewing Machine
Music Written By: Frank Loesser
Lyrics Written By: Frank Loesser
Current Publisher: Famous Music Corp.
Featured in:Perils of Pauline, The (1947)

Ohhh the sewing machine, the sewing machine
A girl’s best friend
If I didn’t have my sewing machine
I’d a come to no good end
But a bobbin a bobbin and peddle a peddle
And wheel the wheel by day
So by night I feel so weary that I never get out to play

Ohhh the sewing machine, the sewing machine
A friend in need
If I didn’t having my sewing machine
A wicked life I’d lead
But a bobbin a bobbin and peddle a peddle
And dream about romance
So by night I feel so weary that I never get out to dance

Ohhh the sewing machine, the sewing machine
Me pride and joy
If I didn’t having me sewing machine
I’d a married James McCoy
But a bobbin a bobbin and peddle a peddle
And that’s the end of Jim
‘Cause by night I get so weary I don’t even look good to him

shown above:
Poster from "The Perils of Pauline" 1947
which featured the Sewing Machine song
Music Written By: Frank Loesser
Lyrics Written By: Frank Loesser
Current Publisher: Famous Music Corp.

Watch a clip and listen to the song at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=999ph8iRT4o

And as we all "bobbin a bobbin" and "peddle a peddle", no matter how hard a time we think we're having...let's remember those sweatshops. Now, back to work, girls...we have work to do ;)

2 comments:

  1. My mother was a seamstress, and although I'm sure the working conditions were better than in the past, I've visited her at her work, and they didn't seem all that good to me! They hired mostly immigrant labor. And she was doing piece work for quite a while. When she switched to hourly, it was quite the culture shock for her to slow down her pace to avoid the wrath of her coworkers. And of course, she took on all the overtime she could get.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I like to think I'm friends with my machines, but once in awhile one will rebel. Cleaning, changing tensions, inserting new needles ... nothing works to get a good balanced stitch. It's got to be gremlins. Oh well, there are a lot of presents to be wrapped and chocolate mice to make and friends to visit for the holdays.

    ReplyDelete

Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.