Vintage Sewing Notions

Vintage Sewing Notions
For eras now viewed as historical, sewing notions made great progress in the fashioning of clothing and homemaker necessities. Contemporary times finds the use of specialty notions from the past more than quizzical like darning eggs, chatelaines, sewing étui and bird clamps while embroidery scissors, thimbles, needle cases and tatting shuttles still exist in the sewer’s domain.

Darning Egg - used to support hand stitching and repairing holes or worn areas in fabric or knitting, most often socks. Often made of marbleized or pearlized wood, the wooden ovals, about the size of a hen’s egg, typically with a slender handle attached on one end, made it easier to smooth the toe or heel of the sock over the curved shape and hand stitch any holes with thread or yarn.

Chatelaines - the chatelaine is a decorative clasp attached to the, at the time, lady of the manor's belt either via a clamp or simply folded over the belt. There were plaited chains that hung from the chatelaine and attached to those chain ends a variety of keys to various rooms or cupboards, various sewing notions, a watch and household seals. Modern day purses are derived from the chatelaine.

Embroidery scissors - with very sharp points on the end of slender blades, the scissors were mostly 3 1/2 to 4 inches long, often sheathed. The handles were fashioned in the shape of a stork, dogs, swordfish, grape vines or every type or ornamentation imaginable. At times enameled in bright colors, handles of Mother of Pearl, etched steel or even gold plated, these decorative scissors were used to cut threads. Popular even today.

Sewing étui - a small ornamental portable container usually associated with holding basic sewing tools. Diminutive sewing cases could also come in a variety of shapes and hold sewing notions compactly like small embroidery scissors, a thimble as well as needles, awl, stiletto and a bodkin. Made of wood, leather, ivory, a variety of metals and Mother of Pearl on the outside with interiors lined in silk or velvet.

Needle cases - These small cylindrical slender containers for sewing needles were historically made of bone, wood, or bronze, were very ornamental and designed to hang from a chatelaine or found in sewing etui. Today needle cases are often hand made squares of fabric, wool and beautifully decorated.

Thimble - a small, dimpled metal, bone, stone, tortoiseshell, ivory, rubber, wood, glass, or porcelain cap placed over a fingertip or thumb for protection when pushing in a hand needle through cloth or other material. Well known throughout the ages, this simple, humble sewing notion has a long history dating back some 30,000 years. Thimbles from the early 18th and 19th century are uniquely decorative and collectible.

Tatting Shuttle - Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a netted lace that is a pattern of knots and loops. The oval hand-held shuttle with a hook at one end holds the delicate wound thread and is about 3 inches long allowing the thread to wrap around one hand and knotting the thread into a pattern with the shuttle in the other hand.

Sewing bird clamp - a clamp with a bird figure on top of the clamp that attaches to the side of a table or sewing machine and acts like a third hand to firmly hold material in its beak to free up a hand for hand stitching or embroidery work. Usually made of iron or brass, often painted or silver plated usually with one, at times two, small velvet pin cushions attached.

The craft of sewing is at once an ancient individual fundamental process and at the same time a present-day textile related global manufacturing industry.

Sew happy, sew inspired.




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