Sure, some “national holidays” seem silly, but here’s one we’ll continue celebrating year after year: National Sewing Month in September! In fact, President Ronald Reagan made this an official holiday in 1982, as a way to recognize the importance of sewing in our nation and culture. We couldn’t agree more!
In fact, you may be surprised to think about just how many idioms and everyday phrases come from the world of sewing. So this month, we’re revealing the origins of some common sewing sayings.
The whole nine yards
Legend has it that the phrase “the whole nine yards” comes from the early 1700s: It was the amount of fabric needed to make a fancy three-piece suit for men.
Off the cuff
Just like we sometimes write on our hands, back in the day, people used to write on the cuffs of their sleeves (especially because they used to be disposable). So when you speak “off the cuff,” you’re going off of little notes jotted down on your sleeve or hand.
Bursting at the seams
Seems like an obvious one, right? True, but its origins are more specific than you might think! It’s said that this phrase comes from the 17th century about women who chose not to wear corsets (thank goodness that time has passed!).
Wear your heart on your sleeves
While Shakespeare is credited with first writing the phrase in 1604, the origin actually comes from earlier times — think knights in shining armor. They say that knights wore ribbons with the name of their love around their arms.