Fanciful Utility Anniversary – Pin Cushions

aWomen of the nineteenth century made pin cushions out of a seemingly endless assortment of items. We can find them made of scrap fabrics, ribbon, shells, dolls, baskets, metal rings, walnut shells, and so many other endless bits.

Children’s and girls’ books are specked with directions on how to pin cushions from found items. This seashell pin cushion is one example.

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We also find pin cushions in lady’s magazines. (be sure not to confuse toilet pin cushions with sewing pin cushions.) This emery cushion in a walnut shell is one example. Emery was used to remove the build up on needles.  w1IMG_7508 Every sewing case needs a pin cushion, at least one pin cushion, that suits the sewers needs. Finding the right pin cushion takes some self analysis and potentially some trial and error.

Depending on my project, I am ‘pluck and plopper’. I am also a pin sorter who is particular on which pins I want for what. When I am ‘plucking and plopping’, I need a pin cushion that is not going to move and lots of surface space I don’t need to look at. A heavy bottom helps as well since I am not always working on a flat surface or able to pay much attention to my pin cushion as my work needs my attention. A large, weighted cushion is very helpful in these situations. When I am working on something that I want particular pins for, be it fine, sharp pins or silk or color pins for marking, I like pin cushions with sorting areas or segments. This could be color sections of the fabric or sides of a cushion. The metal pin cushion to the right in the photo is good for this for me. In the modern world, it is my tomato stuck inside a small piece of pottery. When I am on the go, I want a little pin cushion I can deeply sink my pins into so they don’t go astray. The two ribbon pin cushions in the left of the photo are good for this.

*** For the upcoming Domestic Skill Conference at Genesee Country Village, I will be offering a pin cushion sampler class. ***

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

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Published in: on August 15, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Fanciful Utility Anniversary – Printable

wpid-2015-08-14-10.03.46-1.jpg.jpegHere is a useful printable: Sewing needle packet labels.. These are scanned from antique packets in my collection I’ve included directions for the two ways these packets are folded as well as label and packet measurements.

Sewing Needle Labels to Print and Fill Your FanU Case

*note: These are direct scans. Some were on the packets angled.

Construction:

wpid-2015-08-14-10.04.30-1.jpg.jpegEach of these packets can be made of black paper slightly lighter than writing paper and the label printed on white paper.

  • Print your labels on white printer paper. Cut them to the size indicated on the print out.
  • Cut the black paper using the dimensions accompanying each label – 3 times the width and 3 times the length. ie – if the folded packet is 1″x1.5″, cut the black paper 3″x4.5″
  • Fold the black paper in thirds lengthwise. Fold the paper in thirds width wise.
  • Looking at the placement chart and the notes with each label, glue the label in the corresponding location on the exterior. Use either a brush or small glue stick for the best control.
  • You can also cut a second piece of black paper, slightly smaller to fit inside the outer paper to help hold your needles.

wpid-2015-08-14-10.04.12-1.jpg.jpeg

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 14, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Fanciful Utility “Fill Your Case” Anniversary Event

Today for the the “Fill Your Case” Event, I have some useful PDFs you can print and put in your sewing case.

Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslie’s Lady’s House-Book 1850Basic Sewing Booklet from Eliza Leslies Ladys House Book 1850

Mini Booklet Sewing GuideMini Booklet Gather Gauge Button Guide

Mini Booklet Gather Gauge Button GuideMini Booklet Basic SewingDirections for folding the two mini booklets:

Mini Booklet Directions images

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 13, 2015 at 5:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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Fanciful Utility Anniversary – Q&A

Today, I am offering a Fanciful Utility Question and Answer session. You are welcome to ask your own questions in the comments section.

Where do I buy Fanciful Utility?

Fanciful Utility is available through the publisher, ESC Publishing at http://www.thesewingacademy.com.

You can also purchase Fanciful Utility in person at the Genesee Country Village and Museum (www.gcv.org.) We are considering additional select venues.

I Love Fanciful Utility! Do you have more projects I can make?

For all of you who have fallen in love with Fanciful Utility and the many projects inside, we offer FanU exclusive templates here on my blog and on ESC Publishing. I also offer FanU Workshop Exclusive projects. The templates we have shared over the last three years include:

A boot Boot Template

A button keep, aka “balloon bag”  Keep Ornament

An additional Sea Shell shell temp

A Tri-lobed Needle-book Tri-Lobed Needlebook Lizs template thumbnail

Two Christmas Ornaments 2014 12014 2

Do you do any Fanciful Utility Workshops?

IMG_7637Sewing Boxes 2Yes. I offer exclusive workshop projects that build on the Fanciful Utility projects. Current workshop options include a work pocket filled with pockets, that I call a “Pockets of Pockets”, the favorite French Sewing Boxes and a pin cushion sampler.

Can I sell things I make from Fanciful Utility?

The licensing rights related to Fanciful Utility do grant permission to make a limited number of items to sell as fundraisers for historic preservation or historic education. Otherwise, please give the projects you make from Fanciful Utility as gifts–you’ll delight the recipient!

Where do I look for inspiration for additional historic styles?

There are oodles of sewing cases in the online collections of historic sites and museums. I have pinned a great many of them on my Pinterest board “Fanciful Utility: Original Cases“. Take a look at those for one source of inspiration.

I also recommend visiting your local historical society and historic sites. They tend to have several sewing cases tucked away. They love to show off and share their collections.

Can I do a totally modern case with these techniques?

Of course! Combine the historic techniques with some of the great modern fabrics, “fussy-cutting”, and other textile art processes, and you can make some amazing, thoroughly modern accessories with very historic roots.

How much fabric do I need to make a sewing case?

One of the great things about Fanciful Utility sewing cases is that they use small pieces of fabric. You can easily tap into your scrap stash or stop in at your favorite fabric shop. At a shop, look for their fat quarters or, better yet, a remnant bin. When I buy fat quarters or larger remnants, there is more than enough to make a sewing box and have enough left to share.

The largest pieces you will need will be for the exterior of a case or for the box of a case if you want it to be all one piece. 5″x 12″ is plenty for either. Pieces as small as 2″x2″ can easily be used.

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 13, 2015 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Fanciful Utility Anniversary – A Look at the Tools

Today I am looking at the most common tools found in a sewing case.  (Most of these tools are available in the Anniversary kits on Etsy)

Whether called  work-boxes, sewing cases or work chests, these beloved boxes  house both essential practicality and heart-felt love.

Lucy took the heavy parcel in her own hands, and began to open the folds of brown paper, and at last she exclaimed, ‘Oh, how nice! how pretty! How glad I am to have a real large work-box of my own! Thank you, dear mamma. Such a beautiful red box, and a lock and key to it! and Lucy proceeded to examine the contents

There were rows of reels of cotton, scissors, thimble, bodkin, a yard measure that would wind and unwind in a pretty ivory case, needle-case, and pin-cushion.” (“Lucy’s Winter Birth-day” by Mrs. Russell Gray from An Irish Story,  Archie Mason ed. Edinburgh, 1869.)

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From “The Last Essay of Celia: The Old Work-box” Foreign Quarterly Review, 1833.

Bodkin

Bodkins are found in many materials including wood, bone and metals. These are used to run ribbons or cords through channels of garments. They resemble a blunt needle with a large eye or eyes in the end. The end must be dull, not sharp, to protect the fabric and not snag.

You will require several bodkins of different sizes. The smoother they are, the better they run through the cases. Always get them with a knob at the end. Steel bodkins are more serviceable than those of gold or silver; but in buying steel ones, take care that they are not pewter; this you may ascertain by trying if they will bend. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Stiletto (and Awl)

Stilettos are used pierce holes in fabric for eyelets and needlework such as white work. Stilettos can be bone or of several metals.  Early century dictionaries define stilettos as a small, unedged dagger with a sharp point.

The Boy's Book of Trades

The Boy’s Book of Trades

Awls seem to be more task oriented also for piercing holes in textiles as well as leather, some with wooden handles.

Scissors

Most of us know what scissors are. I find I prefer to have a small and medium size pair of scissors at events and an assortment of large scissors at home.

You will find it necessary to have three pair of scissors; a large pair for cutting out things that are thick and heavy; a smaller pair for common use, and a very small pair for work that is nice and delicate. They should all be sharp-pointed. When your scissors begin to grow dull, have them ground at once. The cost will not exceed six cents for each pair, (even if ground at a surgical instrument shop.) and haggling with dull scissors is very uncomfortable work. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Thimble

Thimbles protect your finger(s) while you sew. Different thimbles aid in different ways depending on how you use them. Seamstresses tended to use the full cup thimbles most of us know, while tailors tended to use open end thimbles.

It is well to have always two thimbles, in case one chancing to be mislaid. When you find that a hole is worn in your thimble, give up the use of it; as it will catch the eyes of your needles and snap them off. (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Needles

You will want an assortment of needles in your sewing box suited to your work. I prefer having several sharps, several fine quilting needles that are good for silk, a couple embroidery needles and some strong just in case needles on hand in my box.

“In providing needles, short ones will generally be found most convenient, and their eyes should be rather large. Many of the needles that are put up in sorted quarters of a hundred are so small as to be of now possible use to anyone. Therefore, in buying needles, it is best to select for yourself. Have always some that are very large, for coarse strong purposes. When a needle breaks of bends, put it at once into the fire; for if thrown on the floor or out of the window, it may chance to run into the foot of someone.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

The Illustrated Girl's Own Treasury.

The Illustrated Girl’s Own Treasury.

Spools

“It is well to get at least a dozen cotton spools at a time, that you may have always at hand the different gradations of coarse to fine. The fine spools of coloured cottons are far better for many purposes than bad sewing silk; but coloured sewing cottons should only be used for things that are never to be washed, as it always fades after being in water. Mourning chintz should on no account be sewed with black cotton as it will run when wet, and stain the seams. …. Keep always brown thread in the house; also hanks of gray, white, and black worsted, for darning winter stockings; and slack twisted cotton, and strong floss silk, for repairing other stockings.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

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Thread winders

Thread winders are small, flat objects used for carrying smaller amounts of thread. They came/come in mother of pearl, wood, bone, silver, pasteboard, horn and other materials. The most common are circles with notches or plus signs, but they have come in a very wide variety of shapes including fish and animals.

Pincushions

Pincushions came in a very wide variety suited to the user’s needs and preference. I’ll be talking more about pincushions in a few days.

Measures & Flat rule

Two measures you will find most helpful in your sewing box will be a short measuring stick and a tape measure. When I am doing millinery, I have an 8 1/2″ rule. While I am working on smaller sewing, a shorter rule is nice.

Tapes can be simple hand inked tapes or more decorative pieces that roll into wooden or horn holders.

Wax

A piece of white wax, for rubbing on a needleful of sewing silk to strengthen it, is a most useful little article;  (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book; A Manual of Domestic Economy, Eliza Leslie. Philadelphia, 1850.)

Other tools:

Pencil & Small Notebook – A simple pencil for marking or taking notes is always helpful.

The Boy's Book of Trades

The Boy’s Book of Trades

Chalk “a small box of prepared chalk, to dip the fingers in when the weather is warm and the hands damp” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Emory bag – “Those that are made for sale have generally so little emery in them, that they are soon found to be useless. It is best to make your own emery-bags; buying the emery yourself at a druggist’s, or at an hardware store.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Sewing Brick – “We highly recommend a brick pincushion, as an important article of convenience when sewing long seams, running breadths, or hemming ruffles. It is too heavy to overset, and far superior to a screw pincushion.” (Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Weights – Also a weighted pincushion. “A smaller pincushion [than the above sewing brick] may be made in a similar manner, substituting a square block of wood.”(Miss Leslie’s Lady’s House-book.)

Find all the quotes from Miss Leslie above and more in this printable pdf booklet.

For further information:

The Lady’s Dictionary of Needlework, 1856

Treasures in Needlework, 1855

The Ladies’ Complete Guide…., 1854

The Hand-book of Needlework, 1842

A Period Workboxby Christian de Holacombe and Michaela de Neuville

What is in Your Sewing Box?

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 12, 2015 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
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Fanciful Utility Anniversary – Fill Your Case Special Offerings

This week, I have filled my Etsy store with a selection of special Fanciful Utility offerings at special prices

In the store you will find…..

IMG_7524Sewing Boxes with Sewing Tools – I have paired one of my favorite boxes, based on an original French Sewing Case, with sewing essentials. These kits come with scissors, a bone stiletto, vintage bodkin, a thread winder and/or spool, a sewing wax and black tailor’s chalk. (btw, I made the sewing waxes.)

IMG_7534Fanciful Utility Boxes with Starter Hair Kits – I filled the same favorite box with a starter hair kit including some of my go-to hair needs. Each box includes a dozen dark brown steel hair pins and a dozen light brown steel hair pins, each in two different sizes, two dozen vintage hair pins, faux tortoise hair pins, a bunch of hair elastics and a light brown hair net.

IMG_7492Scissors Cases – I made felted wool scissors cases embroidered around the edge as originals were. I have some that come with brass color scissors inside and some that fit Burnley & Trowbridge’s embroidery scissors, which I happen to to be rather fond of.

Basket pincushions – Basket pincushions are just one of many mixed media pincushions found spanning the nineteenth century. These adorable pincushions are a fun addition to your sewing chest. It shows nicely as a piece mixing practicality and delicate whimsy.

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Remember to check out the special Anniversary kits on Etsy

Published in: on August 11, 2015 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Anniversary Fanciful Utility!

Three years ago this month Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-books made it’s debut.

FanU Video Shot

I want to say thank you to Liz for all her very hard work in publishing, sales and distribution, Robin for inviting me out for book signings at GCV and everyone who has purchased  Fanciful Utility over the last three years.

In the past 3 years, Fanciful Utility has been welcomed into homes and workshops in most of the US continental states, plus England, France, Germany, Austria, Canada,Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand! Isn’t that pretty cool?!?!

In celebration of the 3 year anniversary, I am holding a week long event.  Over the next few days, I will fill the blog with useful information and my Etsy store with goodies at great prices.

Looking for your own copy of Fanciful Utility? 

Click HERE to go ESC Publishing.

Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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