Vintage Sewing Paraphernalia — Collecting

For years I sewed much of my daughter’s clothing and all our window treatments. As an antiques dealer I often found many vintage sewing items while going through an estate, doing a house clean-out or at sales.  As a seamstress I find beauty in these simple, mundane household items and I use so many of these items in my sewing room;  some of them embellished with beautiful graphics are more decorative than functional but they give a little insight into the lives of those women that toiled away on their family’s clothing; making, mending, and altering their garments.  It must have been nice to look up from her projects and see a beautiful graphic on a needle case, a decorative etching on a crochet hook or a sewing machine detailed in gold decorative painting.

Earlier in the last century it was popular to adorn everything with something extra; extra swirls on the smallest of metal items, extra graphics on paper items.  Extra decorations meant there was an attention to detail and that should translate into extra profits for the manufacturer.  It was a time when companies took pride in their work and put in the extra effort to make utilitarian items beautiful.  Some of these same items now in my sewing room are adorned with extra graphics and these little items bring me great pleasure.

Needle books were some of the most decorated items with graphics fitting the time period.  Older crochet hooks often decorated with etched designs on the handle delight the eye as well as give a little more grip when working.  Metal thimbles were most often decorated with a diamond grid on the tip and sides to help when pushing a needle through a particularly difficult piece of fabric and often have extra designs near the opening.  A dear friend gifted me with a necklace magnifier for all the times when my glasses were just not enough help when sewing.  I love that it belonged to her grandmother and she wanted to pass it on to someone that loves sewing.


And of course there are Buttons, Buttons and More Buttons.  But then, a while ago I blogged about the ever increasing amount of buttons in my house.20170806_144133_resized

Even my sewing machine is vintage.  It’s a Singer sewing machine from the 1940’s and originally top of the line, rather expensive with extra attachments and drop in cams for decorative sewing.  20180112_141153In 1975 I purchased this used portable Singer from the 1940’s and have never regretted that $100 purchase.  This amazing machine moved with us through our first couple apartments, two homes and over 42 years of marriage.  I’ve made so many pieces of clothing, tablecloths, draperies, curtains, and pillow covers not to mention all the clothing repairs on this machine.  Once I even used it to repaired a canvass hammock.  Sadly though, my repairman has told me he cannot get parts for it anymore.  So, I baby it along because it is what I am used to.  It is 100% mechanical, no computer parts and the quality of the seams is so much better than the new machines for sewing blue jeans or heavy materials.  Buttonholes sewn on this machine are truly works of art and the embroidery patterns made by the drop-in cams are cleaner and more precise than those made with the computer controlled machines, in my humble opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, I would welcome a new machine but do not see the benefit of the extreme expense since most of my extensive sewing projects are over.  Now I just repair a seam, shorten pants, make new pillow covers for the porch furniture every couple years and maybe make a pair of jammie pants for my grandsons. So, as long as it holds out I will continue to pamper my vintage Singer and appreciate the workmanship that made this such a workhorse of a machine.

This little pin and scissor holder is a cross collectible falling into my collection of vintage sewing items as well as a piece of Hand Painted American Porcelain.  The tiny scissors have articulated thumb and finger holes and tiny decorative design on the handle of the extremely sharp, thin pointed blades.  The porcelain painted with forget-me-nots brightens my sewing room even in the dead of winter with these tiny blue flowers.

I love all the extra details put into these everyday items.  At a time when predominantly women worked tirelessly to make and maintain their family’s clothing it must have been a nice respite to look down at something seemingly mundane and be reminded of all the beauty in our world.  I still appreciate the effort those manufacturers put into beautifying everyday items.

Fabric measuring tapes, a tracing wheel and wooden embroidery hoop, all vintage finds.

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