The roar of the rockets, the state of the art technology, the jaw-dropping footage of the first human walking on a new world: these were the images most people paid attention to when we first stepped on the moon in 1969. Very few noticed one of the most important parts of that first scene on the moon: what the astronauts were wearing. Yet, without the skilled hands of a team of seamstresses, our trip to the moon would have been impossible.

Without those spacesuits, we wouldn’t have a moon landing. Without intense attention to detail, we wouldn’t have a story of triumph. And without the careful, uncelebrated hands of the women who made those suits possible, we wouldn’t have the legacy of space exploration we celebrate to this day.

Our history is richer when we celebrate the people of all kinds who make our great triumphs possible! So very often, we forget about the unsung heroes that make up the core of our great innovations. After fifty years, let’s hear the story of the seamstresses who helped us land on the moon and celebrate yet another remarkable contribution to the history of space exploration that almost went unrecognized!

Seamstresses that Helped Us Walk on the Moon!

So, what goes into making a spacesuit? Well, it’s far more than it seems. Astronauts are never more vulnerable than when all they have between them and space are some layers of fabric. And, you can’t just send a lunar explorer out in a metal suit. They need to be able to move around and work as freely as possible to do their research.

It’s at this intersection of mobility and protection that the remarkable women we’re introducing you to found their niche.

As the mission to put a man on the moon drew closer, NASA was failing to come up with a spacesuit design that was both protective and agile. Who better fix this problem than a bra maker? (They have to know a few things about mobility and support.) So, Playtex, then International Latex Corporation (ILC), stepped in to make the perfect suit.

A team of ILC seamstresses was assigned the formidable job of crafting the suits that would protect the first astronauts to walk on the moon. There was no margin for error when it came to the suits. And as we know now, their work was the first piece of clothing to walk on the moon!

Here’s the remarkable story from one of these seamstresses, Jo Thompson, brought to us by the amazing folks at Great Big Story.

A Legacy to Remember

The story of how Playtex won the bid to make the first spacesuits to walk on the moon is one of the great untold tales of space exploration.

So, to wrap up, we’ll share a little bit more of this story with you. This time you’ll hear one of the people who actually wore the ILC suit on the moon and some of the other remarkable women who made the iconic suits we know today! This is a great piece from CBS Sunday Morning–one of my go-to shows to watch for a wonderful blend of culture, current events, and remarkable untold stories.

If you’d like to see some great footage of a person dressed in a spacesuit in the 1960s playing football, and astronauts happily singing in space, stay tuned!

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes

How many stories of unsung heroes are out there waiting to be explored? Think about all of the greatest achievements in human history. Who made them possible? It probably took the efforts of all kinds of people. From the big thinkers, to the technicians working behind the scenes, to the worker with extraordinary skills, to the first person brave enough to take the leap and give it all a go.

Our history is made richer with an understanding of the many people from all kinds of backgrounds that make the world work! Here are a few of the stories we’ve featured celebrating history’s unsung heroes!

8 minutes

The Very Human Origins of the Modern Computer

Did you know, before the invention of programmable computers there were human computers? Let us introduce you to one of those human computers who also played an important role in shaping computers as we know them today!

Read More

13 minutes

What Happened to Your Blueberries?

They've been growing in North America for thousands of years but we were not able to tame them up until very recently. This fruit has quite the rich history, so let's dive in...

Read More

9 minutes

Inspiring the Next Generation of Thought Leaders!

Think about it, the next generation of thought leaders is sitting in a classroom right now! How will we inspire them, and make sure they can explore their passions?

Read More

What stories are we missing out on right now that might inspire the next generation of thought leaders and innovators? Whose stories will we be telling in the next fifty years?

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Support Ever Widening Circles!

Join us in celebrating the progress that’s happening in the world! We leave the politics and scare tactics at the door so you can learn about our world and celebrate it with others. If you’d like to support us, check our merchandise store, or consider becoming an underwriter!

Notes:

  1. Great Big Story. “The Seamstress Behind Apollo 11’s Spacesuits.” YouTube, Great Big Story, 19 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGyT_bV0RSA. Accessed 19 Aug. 2019.
  2. CBS Sunday Morning. “The Seamstresses Who Fashioned Apollo’s Spacesuits.” YouTube, CBS Sunday Morning, 14 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QIEMobU6Eg. Accessed 19 Aug. 2019.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Liesl is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV