Being a Sew n Sew, collecting Sewing items

July 08, 2017

Being a Sew n Sew, collecting Sewing items

The collecting of things with a link to sewing is a huge area and can go back millennia. Sewing pins dating back to the days of Henry VIII have been found in the Thames at Greenwich at low tide, the site of one of his many Palaces.  In fact the use of needles goes back at least 35,000 years, bone examples with a hole drilled to take thread have been found dating to the period.

Needle cases to keep these small items safe have been used by seamstresses since the 13th century.

Scissors and sprung shears similarly have a long history, from the cutting of skins to the  cutting of fine silks.

The 'etui', a small container to house scissors, a thimble and needles are very collectable and appear in various forms, from one made from a hinged walnut to finely decorated enamel and mother of pearl examples.

The thimble has long been a collecting area of its own, originally made from leather then metal, the dimples were hand punched until the later 18th century. They were also sometimes decorated with a verse or initials and given as love tokens.

Another item that was vital to the busy needlewoman was decorative but also useful, a cotton reel stand to house the many coloured cottons in use. These come in many designs usually mounted with a pin cushion.

The cases and sewing boxes to house all these items are also a great subject to collect, the design of the boxes usually reflecting the period that they were made.  One of the most elaborate kind dates from the early 19th century and were made in China to be exported to Europe.  Decorated with a high lacquer with 'Chinoiserie' scenes and patterns, they were fitted with fine sewing tools carved from ivory.

In the 19th century every lady of rank would have owned a fully fitted work table, in her leisure she would not have mended clothes, but would have indulged in the highly respectable pass time of embroidery, having practiced as a young girl by working a sampler.

Whichever the field within sewing appeals to you, it is a very rewarding and enjoyable subject, and is one that will suit every pocket.

PvB