|Snowbelle the Bunny|
I’ve fallen for a second teddy bear pattern and just want to make this little guy in every furry fabric I can find! Our nephews all received teddys for Christmas from this pattern and now I’m working on a set to go in the store. Our nieces received matching bunnies.
These sweet teddy bears are also an opportunity to focus on the tools I use for sewing. Now, Joann may be my best friend when it comes to sewing but the antique store has offered durable treasures that have stood the test of time. My antique treadle and hand-turned sewing machines see more use than the spiffy new electric sewing machine in the corner. And for a recent jointed teddy bear, I managed to use just the antique scissors and sewing machine for his creation. I planned on using my antique thimbles but had to concede that I needed the flat top on my modern thimble to get the needle through the bear’s body to attach the arms and legs.
I have a cabinet of antique sewing tools! With the exceptions of my rotary cutter and mat, it seems that I now have a 100-year-old counterpart for each sewing tool. My bright Gingher sheers are matched by ornate Royal Brand scissors made in the 1890s. My two pairs of thread scissors are a reproduction pair that resembles a graceful stork and a smaller antique Royal Brand that match the fabric sheers.
My 1904 Standard treadle sits beside an 1885 White coffin-top sewing machine. Upstairs is the 1889 handturned portable Singer. Sometimes I wonder what they think of the “kid” sitting nearby, an 160th Singer anniversary electric machine with its plastic gears. For that matter, in 160 years, will anyone be able to use that machine? Because I’m fairly certain my treadles while still be running by then.
Some of my antique sewing tools,
including a vintage pincushion, a winding
measuring tape and needle case, a paper
tape measure and a bodkin turning points,
made from bone.
When I hold these tools, and use them as they are meant to be used, I think of the women before me who had them first. Whether it was an aunt, or a grandmother, or a woman unknown to me, I wonder what she was like, how she thought, and what she made with these same tools.
Touching history, creating today
“Sewing tools, with their sentimental resonance, were quite precious to those who inherited them,” says Liddy at the French Garden House. “These tools were often objects of art in their own right, made of the finest materials. There was a tool for each task, and each of those tools came in many variations. Coinciding with the invention of the first sewing machine, the popularity of sewing at home brought along with it the production of sewing tools of every kind, for every budget. ”
|A thread caddy|
I looked up the name on the thimble, when the company was giving these thimbles away with the hopes of housewives buying their product, and realized who it had belonged to first. I fitted it over my own mom’s finger and said, “You’re wearing a thimble used by your grandmother.” Neither of us had anything personal that once belonged to my great-grandmother until then (I am fortunate to have her kitchen table). In one thimble four generations were connected—my great-grandmother, her daughter and son (my grandfather), my mother, and I. When my niece wears it, she will be the fifth generation and 100 years of a plain, ordinary thimble connecting us all.
“The most exciting part of collecting antique sewing accessories and tools is their very personal nature,” Liddy says. “The sewing boxes, needle holders, pin cushions, tape measures and other implements belonging to a seamstress long ago were touched often by her hands, they are the thread that connects us to her past. Each one is a fascinating reminder of the beauty she created with skill and much affection, as she sewed for those she loved.”
Winter sewing projects
What is on my sewing table? Teddy bears and bunnies are being cut out, so there is a lot of fake fur
on the table. And it’s startling how much of it looks like cat fur after my kitties would get into a fight!
After these, there will be some new denim bags to be sewn up, along with some contract sewing for a local re-enacting supply store.
I’m spending some time learning more about soapmaking, so you’ll see some blogs on what I’ve learned and what I’m trying. I’ve decided to focus on the scents you will find here at Edgewood in St. Denis—fresh coffee in the morning, rich basil, sweet honeysuckle and lavender, soothing mint, piney rosemary bushes. This gives me plenty to work with as I practice a new craft.
Now that you’ve read my reflections, what are you working on this winter? Share with me in the comments below.