[HNW] Re: contents of period sewing baskets

Jacobson Dawn dtjacobson at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 27 17:10:11 PST 2002


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Kayta wrote:

I guess I should be asking on this list in addition to on the h-costume
list - what items/tools distinguish the sewing baskets of the mid 1800s
(c.1850) from those of the late 1800s (1880-1900)? As in, what should I
put in there to make one basket look like one period and the other basket
look like the other period, even if the rest of the things in there are the
same? (I already know what distinguishes the outsides, as the ladies's
magazines of both periods have pictures of these.)

(from my other post:)

>I put all my Victorian and Edwardian (middle middle class housewife) stuff
>in one basket right now, and use it for both periods. (Eventually I will
>make two baskets, one for 1850-ish and one for 1880-1900.) Right now the
>basket has my wood embroidery thread winders, my bone needle case, my
>antique paper of pins (Edwardian or later), more bodkins, my little
>scissors which were made in Prussia (2 pairs), a brown glass bottle of
>hooks and eyes, and buttons (bone and mother of pearl), with a cork
>stopper, another darning egg, and a velvet emery strawberry. I also have
>several skeins of embroidery thread (1920's or earlier) with old-looking
>labels, and some scraps of ribbon. The Victorian one will get a thread
>spool caddy like I saw in a Godey's, and maybe a pin cushion out of
>another Godey's. I still need a good repro-Victorian tape measure. For
>Edwardian I add a Nouveau-ish card of hooks and eyes, some thread spools
>which have the label printed right on the wood, and an Edwardian darning
>gadget with a clip to hold the work steady. What else should go in
>there? What distinguishing things will make the contents of one basket
>look Victorian and that of the other look late Victorian/Edwardian?

Victorian workboxes (bear with me, I'm having to draw on what I've seen on Antiques Roadshow) seem to be distinguished by collections of "Tunbridge ware" boxes: little boxes made with simple light and dark wood marquetry. I've seen one with little pegs for holding spools of sewing cotton, and have seen drawings of ones for pins and needles. Other things: sewing bird, a tape measure in an acorn, a needlecase, scissors in all sort of silly shapes (birds, fish and such), embroidery silk, thimble, an alabaster egg (hand cooler), and a vinagrette. There might also be a "sewing doll" made of spools of thread and a stuffed body.
The Edwardian one (at least, my great-grandmother's) had large scissors, needlework scissors, packets of different needles, buttons, wooden spools of sewing cotton, wooden spools of quilting thread, parts for her Singer, extra bobbins, cotton embroidery floss, tatting shuttle, very fine crochet hooks, several thimbles, pin cushion, emery cushion, lots of pins, tape measure, a short straight edged ruler, and a notepad and pencil. Needless to say, it was a large workbox! 8-) However, she was a very enthusiastic needlewoman; other Edwardian boxes may contain fewer items.
Hope this helps.
Dawn Jacobson



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