New exhibition is dressed to impress at Charnwood Museum

History of home dressmaking exhibition opens at Charnwood Museum

Display at Charnwood Museum

A stylish exhibition exploring the history of home dressmaking has opened at Charnwood Museum this month.

After a successful showing in Harborough, the Cut & Create exhibition is coming to Loughborough and features items of clothing, sewing equipment and dress patterns from Leicestershire County Council’s Museums Collection. The objects tell the story of home dressmakers and the equipment they used to make the job of creating the latest fashions more convenient and affordable to all.

“Many of us have memories of either making clothes at home or wearing homemade clothes. The Cut and Create exhibition is a fascinating exploration of the history of home dressmaking which will appeal to people of all ages.

“We were delighted that Cut and Create was so popular when the exhibition came to Harborough so we’re very excited to bring it to Charnwood Museum.”

Home sewing reached its height in the late 1950s and early 1960s with an increase in leisure time and on-going sewing instruction in schools, combined with the rise of easy to work with synthetic fabrics - and the cost of making an outfit was much cheaper than buying one from a shop. 

Dressmaking at home saw a steady decline from the late 1980s, mainly due to the rise in global mass manufacturing of garments that could, in some cases, cost less than the price of a dressmaking pattern. 

But the last decade has seen a rise in home dressmaking and crafting hobbies, helped by popular TV shows and the increase of online tutorials and social media.

Extra time at home due to the Covid pandemic since 2020 has also led to an increase in home crafts and hobbies, including dressmaking.

Cut & Create examines all these eras and trends through the objects on display. The exhibition runs at Charnwood Museum until Sunday 4th June 2023.

Members of the public are invited to get involved in the exhibition by sharing their memories and pictures of clothing handmade by themselves, their relatives or friends. These will be added to a digital screen on gallery. Please email

Entry to the exhibition is free. More information about Charnwood Museum, including opening times, is available at

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