Sewing Baseballs, 1938

Of course I know that baseball covers have stitches, but until I saw this photo I didn’t realize that the covers were stitched together by hand.  Even today most covers are hand stitched, although the process is done in a factory.  This photo shows that it was once done as piecework at home.  Note the large box filled with balls pushed up against the fireplace.

The explanatory material for this photo identifies the woman as a farm worker outside the town of Tullahoma, Tennessee.  Stitching baseballs was probably work she took on at night or in the winter months to bring in extra income.  I wonder if other members of the family also participated in this home enterprise.

I’m fascinated by the woman’s gingham dress, which in fact might be a big dress-like apron covering up a garment below.  See the little strip of a different gingham pattern peeking out at the hem.  Whatever it is, I like the off center buttons running from top to bottom and the wide sleeves.  And note the stitched covering for the mantle, something I have never seen before.  Perhaps it was also handmade.

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3 Responses to Sewing Baseballs, 1938

  1. Lizzie says:

    I think you are correct that she’s wearing an apron.

    Curiosity led me to seek out the baseball factory, Lannom Manufacturing Company in Tullahoma. From reading about the company, I’m guessing she got only a few pennies for each ball.

  2. Laura says:

    My grandma didnt have a mantle, but she loved handwork. Her huge console TV always had a cover like that, made from patterns for mantle scarves from her trove of Workbasket Magazine. She sometimes had to shorten the ruffle. Frequently, the covers were seasonal, with fall leaves, spring flowers, xmas, etc. In the embroidery. Armchair cover sets sometimes matched

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