Models of Sewing Instruction

The North Carolina Collection recently received as a gift the sewing model book created by Helen Bales when she was student at the Home Industrial School in Asheville in 1898-1899. Helen was studying to be a teacher at a time when it was expected that common schools would teach young girls how to sew.

Miss Bales had to demonstrate that she could teach over a dozen types of stitching. Her samples are presented one to a page. On the facing page is a handwritten explanation of the materials employed and the likely uses of the stitching style. Some pages also include verses to read to the children as they stitch. Here is one such verse imposed on the model for an apron:


Helen Bales’ excellent model book was graded at 95%. After finishing her education, Helen Bales married Bruce Slaughter and taught school in Robbinsville, Graham County, North Carolina.

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