June 25 Friday Worked about house all the forenoon
but can scarcely tell what I was doing but
know I wasnt idle. This afternoon have
been mending different articles Hannah
mended the stockings. I hope she is going
to be a pretty good girl. Mr Whitwell called
Called at Edwins this evening Augustus & wife
Edwin & Elisha Andrews gone to Alsons
New servant Hannah Murphy was “pretty good” today helping Evelina mend the family stockings. Mending was never Evelina’s favorite duty. She often put it off, preferring instead to head for the garden or slip next door to chat with one of her sisters-in-law. But what she seemed to prefer most of all was to sew. Cutting cloth for a new dress, or refashioning a waist in an old one, finding just the right trim for her sleeves, or making multiple buttonholes, such was her passion. Evelina loved to sew.
If Evelina had lived today rather than in the 19th century, would sewing still have been her favorite occupation? Freed from her domestic obligations as a 19th century housewife, and no longer in the thrall of the patriarchal laws and mores of the day, what could she have accomplished? She was so tactile that it’s hard to imagine her abandoning her needle, or not using her hands. Might she have become a textile artist? A craftsperson? Or had a career in fashion?
We know that Evelina was hardworking; as she herself points out, “I wasnt idle.” Whatever career we might imagine for her to excel in, she would have committed to it as surely as she did to her domestic agenda in the 1850s. Yet the fantasy of transporting Evelina to the 21st century ultimately falls flat. She was too much a creature of her own time and place, as we all tend to be, and not unhappy with her lot in life – even while mending.