Homespun Clothing: Stitching a New Nation

By: Danielle Spickard

“Playing on a musical instrument called the Spinning Wheel, the Melody whose Music, and the beauty of the Prospect, transcending for Delight, all the Entertainment of my Life” –Eliza Bourne

When most people think about the American Revolution, they think of the bloody battles, famous generals, and perhaps the creation of our Constitution.  But does the topic of clothing come to mind?  Without the ability to replace British imports with homespun clothing, American colonists never would have been able to successfully boycott British goods, and therefore, never would have stood a chance in the war for American independence.

A simple homespun dress that replaced elaborate British imports.

When Great Britain began heavily taxing Americans in 1765, the American colonists felt betrayed, and their reaction was to boycott British goods.  This was easier said than done.  Americans loved British goods and considered British items to be signs of gentility.

However, it became apparent that issues with Great Britain could not be solved by intellectuals alone, and that everyday people would have to recognize their roles and participate in the efforts to support revolutionary ideology.

Americans turned to their own American made goods as viable substitutes.  Women sharpened their spinning skills and helped sustain the boycott through their production of homespun clothing.  Americans, including George Washington and his family, believed “giving up things they enjoyed made them stronger people” (Chadwick, 168).  Materials goods were no longer considered critical,

“The necessities of life are mostly to be had within ourselves” -George Washington

So as more and more women began sewing, spinning, and stitching new clothing, they were stitching a new American identity.

Find out exactly how they did this with the links below:

Peek Into the Past

DIY Homespun

Girl Power

Spin for the Win