"Make It Yourself"

by Sarah A. Gordon

Home Sewing, Gender, and Culture, 1890–1930

Second Interview with Florence Epstein

Florence Epstein: I remember one thing. There was a woman, an Italian family living next door to us. And they had a lot of kids, they had…I don't know, boys and girls, and one of the girls was my age, and I used to pal with her. She was my friend. And her mother used to make buttonholes.

Sarah Gordon: Oh.

Florence Epstein: For the tailor.

Sarah Gordon: For money.

Florence Epstein: She was a professional buttonhole maker for the tailor. And she would do piecework. She would come home with a load of jackets or whatever it was that she would be working on. And whenever I needed a buttonhole, she would make it for me. It was a perfectly professional buttonhole.

Sarah Gordon: Wow. How much do you think…

Florence Epstein: I remember making a jacket that had a row of buttons down the front. And when she got through making those buttonholes the jacket looked completely professional.

Sarah Gordon: That sounds lovely.