Family Treasures

Some families pass along Confederate swords to younger generations. My family passes on sewing notions. My grandmother, mother, and aunts all sewed; and I’ve ended up with much of their sewing stuff because I’m the one in my generation who sews. Much of it is useless and good only for the landfill, such as 60 year old elastic. Some is sentimental, and some is still useful.

What’s left are buttons, Singer sewing machine attachments (and one Singer machine,) hooks and eyes, awls, tracing wheels and paper, wooden thread spools, and my grandmother’s thimble. The strangest legacy is a very heavy button covering machine produced by the Defiance Manufacturing Co. I don’t know what happened to the patterns and zippers my fore mothers used, but none survive.

Here are just some of the goodies.

I always wanted an awl, and now I have one. There are more buttons than those shown. Maybe a few have some value, but most seem to date back no farther than the 1950s. I now have plenty of snaps and hooks and eyes, plus plastic rings.

The Singer machine accessories include a gatherer, lots of feet, buttonhole and zigzag stitch attachments, and some unknown gizmos. I’ll look into the used accessory market to see if these have any value.

The instructions and order form for the button covering machine, which was purchased in 1951 by my grandmother, were preserved, along with business correspondence between her and the company. The manually operated machine is heavy, and I think some parts are missing. My cousin was thrilled to offload that.

I had my mother’s Singer machine already. It’s billed as portable, but weighs about 25 pounds. I learned to sew on it, but haven’t used it in decades. If anyone is interested in a Singer 99-13, made in 1930, let me know.

My favorite item is my grandmother’s thimble, of course. My aunt had a jump ring put on it so she could wear it on a chain. It’s now part of my jewelry collection, and you never know when you might need a thimble in one’s daily rounds.



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23 responses to “Family Treasures

  1. A treasure chest’s worth of items! Beautiful thimble. I would wear it, too. I’ve mentioned before, I expect, that my mom could make anything. My sisters and I sew and/or quilt, but none of us got any of the stuff from Mom’s sewing stash or supplies. Long stories with all that, not worth worrying about anymore. I do sometimes wish I had her machine, but that’s the little bit of sentiment I allow about it.

    I do always wonder about how my stuff will be dealt with by others. Better for me to do as much of it as I can, while I can.

    • Or you could be like my MIL who said, after repeated heavy hints from her daughter about winnowing her possessions, I’m leaving it for you to sort out. And she did leave it and her daughter did sort it out.

      Sorry that your mother’s physical sewing stash didn’t get passed on, but it seems like her sewing ability did.

  2. I, too, inherited sewing notions. Ended up donating some good stuff, but one person can use only so much.

  3. The thimble is wonderful–that’s the treasure I’d keep, of all of it. And the photo of your grandmother is just beautiful, too. I can never decide whether I’m thrilled to have all the old stuff from my foremothers or burdened by it . . .

    • The thimble is going nowhere, except around my neck. Yes, inheriting these kinds of objects is a two edged gift. I’m happy to have them, but always have the thought, who gets them after me, at the back of my mind.

  4. Rosemaryflower

    I have inherited my oldest sister’s very meager sewing things, not her machine, just two boxes of memories that make me sad sometimes. She was 48 and died from an brain aneurysm (smoking)
    I have all of my mom’s sewing things. Everything. She was an incredible lady, that was born in 1923 in Rotterdam, and God decided that she only needed one hand, so she had only a left hand, and her right arm ended just a bit below the wrist so she had a few carpal bones. Well, Mom had a superb family, mother and several aunts and good friends that ensured her success. She played the piano very very well, even wrote music, She also cross country skied in her 60’s and 70’s bc she saw a bill board with happy skiers and she wanted to try it.
    She also made Belgian lace, a lot of it, Beautiful doilies, lace collars, gold lace trim etc etc. I have all of her lace making books and supplies. I have her machine, Singer 316G (she gave me that in 1985, when she bought a new Singer) I love that machine and use it now. The newer Singer is in the basement wrapped very well, and dry.
    I have a lot of sewing things. Thread, trims, fancy Burda patterns of complicated designer dresses that she made. This woman had no barriers. She did everything except jump out of an air plane. I could go on and on.
    I miss her so so so so much. She went to Heaven October 7th in 2016. My daddy and I talk about her every day
    Okay, happy Thursday everyone.
    Thank you so much for sharing your treasures, Joanna, they are beautiful. I love old buttons. Is this photograph of your aunt or your gramma? Beeeeeyoootiful lady.

    • Rosemaryflower

      Oh and a huge box of needle point, crewel supplies, embroidery supplies, several pair of knitting needles, and a huge pile of books.
      I have all of it.

    • Your mom was amazing! Aren’t we lucky to have such amazing mothers – great role models. My mother passed in 1979 (cancer at 54), and my dad in 1981 (cancer at 61). I miss them both so much, yet feel them close to me still, especially when I am needing them. This post about her treasures brought me so many wonderful memories to spring forth. Happy Thursday to you, too.

    • Your mother sounds like she deserves her own book or maybe a quilt, made with some of her treasures. The photo is of my granny, shortly after she finished tailoring school in Londonderry, N. Ireland.

  5. This post gave me the warm fuzzies; a couple days ago I was digging through my grandmothers buttons, which like you, I inherited along with many other items, because there aren’t too many sewers (should that be “sewists”?) in the family. My sister has the treadle machine because I didn’t have room for it…the tiny drawers hold all kinds of “what the heck it that” objects!

  6. I too inherited the sewing notions, buttons, some fabric, and embroidered pieces from my grandmothers, my mother, and a favorite aunt. I have my buttons (a wide assortment) in an antique biscuit jar, except for the very special (fancy) ones. They date from the late 1800s to 1970s, plus a few more modern that I have added along the way. I used some of the very special buttons, embroidery, tatting, and jewelry on Christmas stockings I made for family. The stockings are made from quilts made by my grandmother, the cuffs were made from the last wedding gown my mother designed and made, and decorated with various items with sentimental value. I’ve also made a couple of ring pockets for a nieces wedding using sentimental pieces and blue jeans. I also have my mother’s scissors which I still use. I love all of my treasures.

  7. That is a very pretty thimble! I’ve been given a metal needle case (it’s a cylinder and looks a lot like a bullet). I should refresh my memory but was my husband’s grandmother’s? great-grandmother’s? from Scotland.

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