Friday, 25 January 2013

The Inherited Sewing Basket

There is actually quite a lot of furniture in this room, some of which offers really good storage; from the practicalities of the plan chest, to the chrome locker, to a white – reasonably new – cabinet (or should that be side-board? quite an old-fashioned name).  Hidden in here is an eclectic mix of ‘stuff’ – including my inherited sewing basket; I have decided to show this item purely because you were asking questions regarding its appearance in a previous post. So here is my quite unlovely sewing basket, inherited from D’s mother after she died, because none of his three sisters wanted it. As you can see, it is not quite as orderly as yours!! But despite the tattered, unstuck braiding, and the broken handle, the contents were what attracted me most. A little bit of family history in a box. 
A - I wasn't sure whether or not I should be waiting for the crochet (blue) part of your post - so apologies for slipping this in...P


  1. P, the contents of the inherited sewing basket are a dip into (the past) graphic printed presentations of sewing accoutrements - the 'lucky Lady' buttons and the 'Travelling Companion' are immediately endearing! They have so much more character and seem to be quite uplifting in their appearance. Gosh, I just loved hanging out in the haberdashery sections of department stores when I was a girl - one of my favourite items was the wheel of coloured long length bobble-headed pins. So ordered and looked just beautiful. I think sometimes I don't need to own items, just looking and appreciating them is enough.
    The actual basket is as I'd imagined, but the paisley-esqe patterned top is so totally different - I'm quite shocked.

    Do you use some of the inherited items, I wonder?

    Will post about crochet blue sometime, and let you know when I do, ok. A

  2. Welcome back A! The inherited items are wonderful aren’t they? I wonder who decided that some needles and pins and thread should be packaged and called a ‘travelling companion’ – that is definitely of its time. Whilst I haven’t used any of the items – apart from the pins – it is not because I see them as precious, it’s more a case that there hasn’t been the opportunity to do so; to be honest – I’m not sure how likely I am to need a replacement zip or even a hook and eye and I am ashamed to say I have no idea how to darn! My mending skills probably only extend as far as sewing on a button, or taping up a trailing hem with ‘wonder web’ – shame on me!
    I also love haberdashery – in fact as a child my grandmother would take me to her local drapers shop – it was beautifully old-fashioned and I can remember the smell so clearly. I read Milly Molly Mandy stories as a child and always imagined the drapers shop as part of M-M-M’s world.

    Is the paisley more modern than you thought? I liked that you were ‘quite shocked’!

  3. Yes, isn't it curious how even haberdashery has changed over the years - like you I 'inherited' a large number of items along with the purchase of a rather nice flowery tin. It's contents held lots of hooks and eyes, poppers and about half a dozen replacement white bra strap clasps. Although I didn't like the thought of discarding the clasps, I knew that I would never use them. The packaging unfortunately wasn't that attractive, and I never wear a white bra either! Oh, well.
    I remember hearing the name Milly Molly Mandy, but my contemporaries were Mary Mungo and Midge, Little Mo, and Mr.Benn - all those characters fed an active imagination where anything was possible, M-M-M's Draper's shop world would be a cert!

    Yes, the paisley is so much more modern than I expected - though I'd need to have a really close look to have a stab at dating. I had such a clear picture of what it would look like, It had already become real for me, and then, hang on - what's this, the box is exact, but the top, totally different - huh?!

    R.e. the darning. I bought my first 'darning mushroom' last summer, after coveting my Mum's wooden one for years - darning is quite addictive. Now I almost yearn to find a hole in one of my socks.

    So I'm wondering what haberdashery items would be on our 'Endangered Species' list? Some would depend what relationship one has with clothes I guess?

  4. Oh – good question, but tricky to answer. I would probably have said darning mushroom – but I had no idea you were such a fan! What about the humble thimble? Do people still stitch by hand? My Grandmother always used a thimble, but whenever I tried it felt like more of an encumbrance.
    Paper patterns - are they still manufactured? Safety pins – I love them, but can’t really remember the time I used one!
    Similarly - hooks and eyes and poppers (such lovely names); and I didn’t realise you could even buy replacement bra clasps. I inherited hat pins in my sewing box – surely extinct rather than endangered?

  5. Well P, I've just added the crochet pic on the last post - kimono & crochet blue, and would've said the same about crochet as you would the darning mushroom, but for the recent resurgence of home craft skills and the handmade.
    Gosh thimbles, no I can never say I've got to grips with them (ha ha) myself, as I find it more difficult to sew with one on, than without one. Obviously I have no technique! As you say, an encumbrance.
    I do use the humble safety pin every now and again, but yes, hat pins - marvellous (and some quite beautiful) things as they are - like a Dodo, I would believe. Shame, as I think some of the hat replacements,i.e. 'fascinators' - range from the beautiful to the dire.
    R.e. the sewing box. A 'quick unpick' - now you're talking - worth much more than it's weight in gold!

  6. Oh yes, the quick unpick - invaluable - and another great name (I've lost mine); and pinking shears - I have two pairs - my Granny's which are very heavy and probably need oiling as they hurt your hands when you try to cut with them, and another cheaper pair inherited in the sewing basket - the teeth are slightly more rounded and don't give such a satisfying zig zag as Granny's.
    Crochet comments added to previous post.

  7. Ah, pinking shears - sounds like your Granny's were made from superior quality materials - cast aluminium with steel blades?

    Pinking shear facts from online source:

    Louise Austin of Whatcom, Washington, received United States patent number 489,406 on January 3, 1893 for "Pinking shears". The patent describes how "pinking scissors or shears" are superior to the existing tools at the time, "pinking irons" and "pinking cutters".
    The operation of the shears are described as "pinking" or "scalloping". There are references to "cut ornamental openings in the body portion of fabrics" but no references to the more utilitarian function of preventing fraying.
    One of the primary early uses of pinking shears was the formation of decorative edging for patchwork quilting squares.
    The cut produced by pinking shears may have given its name to (or be derived from) the plant name pink, a flowering plant in the genus Dianthus with "pinked" edges to its petals.

    I am charmed by the idea that the shears are named after the humble pink!

  8. Very educational, and interesting that it was a woman who patented them.

    re: the name - what a great story - I'm not sure I would have made the connection between pinking shears and the petals of pinks - but like you, I think it's a lovely notion.

    Could the sewing basket itself become an endangered species?

  9. Hmmm...There are a few attempts at Retro sewing baskets around, CK being a main advocate of course, although I wonder if people would actually buy a 'sewing basket' as opposed to a box or other receptacle that would be more, in keeping with the modern home. In the Victorian era, there seemed to be a specific item or contraption for any notion of tasks and activities, both upstairs and downstairs. Now we seem to have reduced all our multi-tasking activities on as few gadgets as possible.(Although there are still lots of options available if you need something for anything!)
    I remember some sewing baskets were dual purpose in their nature anyway, acting as 'spare' seating or pouffes etc. My Mum had one with a black vinyl upholstered top, wooden legs and brass coloured feet, which went (unnoticed as a sewing basket) in the 70's home a treat!

    So, I think, give it a couple of years and it could definitely make the list! Plus with the earlier reference to the darning mushroom, I think it may only be me that darns some beloved socks anymore.

  10. Dual purpose sewing baskets - how exciting! I have been transported back in time with the description of your Mum's seat/sewing basket. I thought pouffes and stools had gone out of fashion, but still plenty for sale on ebay!

  11. I had a peek, and _so_ should not have, P.
    So very exciting - a plethora of pouffes and sewing box beauties to be had.

    I was wondering if your sewing box held any embroidery silks?

    Also, thought I'd mention, I have just had a thought about endangered species totally unrelated to the inherited sewing box, but will mention it whilst I remember - the 'melon baller' - how 70's is that?

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Well I actually have another sewing 'bag' which I owned before I inherited the 'box' - my sewing bag was made by Granny - red velvet with wooden handles. In here I have embroidery silks! See new picture.

    Wow - the melon-baller, add it to the list!

  14. What a wonderful red velvet bag P. I really had a thing about velvet when I was a little girl (have I said that before?) It's such a tactile fabric.
    Actually I've just made the connection - the 'skirt' part of my wedding dress was red velvet, shot with gold. A very similar red to your sewing bag.

    Do you do any embroidery, or is it used more creatively in binding and sewing on books?

    I wish I had met your Granny. I know we would have got on.


Blog Archive