A few Christmases ago, my Arpette bought me what was one of my all time favourite presents ever… so lovely in fact that I burst into tears because I loved it so much, and he then had to ask “don’t you like it?” …..
Anyway, what looks like just an ordinary little brown suitcase (the sort carried around by a duffle-coat wearing bear from darkest Peru and containing marmalade sandwiches….)……
…is in fact a small treasure trove of sewing delights…. absolutely jam packed and stuffed to the gills with a selection of vintage haberdasheries and tiny delights.
I really felt like Howard Carter as I lifted up the lid and saw all the beautiful things inside….and then I spent ages taking everything out (and even longer trying to fit everything back in). Items included a small embroidered silk scissor case with a pair of scissors inside (which are really sharp, with fine blades which are perfect for lifting up and un-picking stitches), tailors chalk, vintage sewing threads in a variety of colours, embroidery silk, a bakelite crochet thread holder, a small green container, the creamy yellow thing in the top left corner is a Pin Ejector made by Taylor’s of Birmingham (you push the top down and a pin pops up out of the middle….much fun to use), a thimble, a small home-made pincushion, the wooden spindle thing at the bottom has obviously broken off something in the past and has been kept (maybe with the intention of fixing it)…..
Other items include small wooden boxes which contain their own little treasures, more sewing thread, a pin-cushion which I think has come off an old sewing machine, a tatting spindle and a card of heavy hooks and eyes. I have no idea what the blue plastic and metal thing at the bottom is…a complete mystery. Oh, it also has the world’s ugliest and most horrible to feel pin-cushion (the green and brown thing at the top right corner)….not only does it look awful, it feels nasty, it’s really resistant to pins going in (think it has sawdust inside) and if you were going to have a nightmare about sewing and haberdashery items…it would definitely be in it.
Other delights included a tin filled with glass paste beads, crochet hooks, a box of jet black pins (these are lovely to use on white fabric) more sewing thread, buttons, some pointy things (not the most technical of terms) and a beautiful little box with mother of pearl handled hooks which would have been used for lacing up boots with buttons.
As I mentioned, all the small boxes opened up to reveal their own little secrets (I think this entertained me pretty much all that Christmas as I kept opening it up and looking at everything again)…. tiny spools of thread which themselves opened to reveal some needles, packets of still sharp fine needles, the most smallest mother of pearl buttons (the size of the pink of my little finger nail), and a tiny calender from 1874 which amongst other notable dates, lists the birthdays of Queen Victoria’s children. The small sewing box to the top left is most curious, it looks like it has been made from card and straw. There is a piece of glass in the lid and in the small draw which slides out. The drawers and compartments have all been decorated with painted papers, and there are some fancy pins in the bottom.
My most favourite treasure from the hoard is a piece of card that has 6 rows of coloured crewel wool stitched along it. It’s not very big , not even 6 by 2 inches.
On the back has been glued a piece of yellowed paper….and it is the inscription which for me is pure gold*
I don’t use everything from this box on a day to day basis, however I have tried to incorporate what I can into my regular sewing box. I love old sewing notions but I don’t want to have a sewing museum at home so I have no qualms about using things that maybe others would have on display. For me sewing is such a pleasure, and being able to use many of these pieces everyday just makes it even more so.
*Ian’s first piece of work – Done with his own dirty little hands for “Granma’s Kismas p’esant”!!