CreativityStitchingThe story of an old sewing box

February 10, 2015by Anna Deakin0

I’m actually beginning to think I have real life magical powers when I go rummaging in my local charity shops! There are two charity shops in my village and generally I find bits of vintage fabric to add to my stash tucked away at the back of a shelf, it’s becoming rather an addiction and I always get giddy when I come across a good find. Recently I’ve had more of an urge than normal to stumble across an old unwanted sewing box, I see them on auction websites going for a small fortune but know that someone has already had a good rummage through it…and I want to be the one to have the first rummage!

Off I trundled on the search for vintage sewing patterns, it’s a Great British Sewing Bee effect, I’m having an urge to make clothes all of a sudden. Alas I lucked out in my search, but I do have two vintage patterns bought online winging their way over to me, so all is not lost. I stood for a minute in the smaller charity shop wondering where they hid away haberdashery items, these places always have a secret little corner for haberdashery bits, and remembered how great it would be to find a forgotten sewing box…and then I swear with a twinkling of bells and magic dust there appeared a battered old sewing box on the shelf next to me!

IMG_1129Truly, it did really happen like that. Does anyone else get as giddy as me at the sight of vintage haberdashery? Then oh my days if it wasn’t just full to the brim with goodies when I opened it up, and with only a ¬£3 price tag!

IMG_1130 I snapped the lid shut and paid one of the lovely old dears who was volunteering, mentally setting myself some time alone later after the children were in bed to see what treasures I might find! Eeek, so exciting. Small pleasures in life.

So settled down that evening I went on to discover a trove of treasures and trinkets, and got to wondering what kind of story this old box had. What can we tell from someone else’s sewing box? I’ll go through things I found now and tell you the kind of person I think she is…or was, and I’m pretty sure they were a ‘she’. Are you ready for a nosey?

A great selection of threads, a good amount of Gutermann and some rather dandy vintage spools. No thread was wasted, she wrapped even the smallest remnants around other spools.




IMG_1133 I love the old wooden spools of thread, the labels are timeless. I’m not sure what to do with them other than display them on my printers tray shelf and gaze at their loveliness! If anyone has any ideas for vintage cotton spools please comment, I would love to read your ideas.

Then there were little packs of sewing kits, thread, elastic, needles (I’m really running low on needles so this was a bonus find) a darning mushroom, scissors, crochet hook, buttons…lots of buttons! The most well used thimble I’ve ever seen. Even some thrifted suspender clips!













I’ll call my sewing lady Mabel. I think it’s safe to assume that Mabel was from that wonderful bygone era where absolutely nothing was wasted. I try to be like this myself as I really can’t abide waste, Mabel saved even 6″ of thread lest she may need that particular colour to sew a button maybe. I imagine she was predominantly a hand sewer, though I did find a couple of machine needles hidden amongst the pins. Mabel was a make do and mender, she darned holes in socks and saved many a pair of stockings or tights from a run with her winfield panti-hose and tights repair kit. She did a bit of crocheting, but ultimately was much more content armed with fabric and thread. Mabel lived in a little bungalow with roses in the garden, her children long grown and flown from the nest. As well as sewing she also made the best chutney from the tomatoes her husband Ted grew in his greenhouse at the bottom of the garden. I don’t know where you are now Mabel, but your sewing box has found a good home…I collect buttons too! I shall add yours to my collection.

I wonder what people would make of me if they saw my sewing box in many years to come, it’s a very personal little space. I spent many a rainy afternoon as a girl happily going through my great grandmas sewing boxes, there’s something about them that draws you in. Even my own children are drawn like moths to a flame when they get chance to mess in my sewing box…they especially love to rearrange my pins in the pin cushions. I hope you’ve enjoyed having a peek into Mabel’s sewing box, I have!

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