Written By Phyllis Hoffman DePiano
When we started our business in the needlework industry in the 1980s, one of the most popular magazines we launched was Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly. Inside those pages were patterns for sampler reproductions, historical information about needlework through the centuries, and fabulous collections of needlework and tools.
I have a few pieces left from my once large sewing tool collection, and I thought these would be of interest to you. The small acorns, both wooden and brass, are thimble cases. A woman would place her sewing thimble inside for safe keeping when not in use.
The barrel-shaped wooden case holds a measure tape that is hand-inked on a ribbon. If you needed to measure, you would pull it out and then rewind by turning the small spindle handle. In the spindle is a little round opening that contains a stanhope. This little optical device, introduced in the 1800s, contains images that can be seen by looking through the tiny lens. These were typically souvenirs of the day that are a kin to the small measuring tapes that are used in marketing today.
The long rectangular flat brass case is for needles. These cherished needle cases held a woman’s supply of sewing needles. This one is a great example of the intricate metal work that went into sewing implements.
This is just a glimpse into the fascinating world of needlework tools. I am sure in your family, you have wonderful pieces that you treasure.
To read more personal essays from Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, visit her blog, The Ribbon In My Journal.
What do you like to collect, and how did you start your collection?