Vintage Sewing Box

A few thoughts on collecting 'old stuff'

About 5 years ago my husbands Aunt sadly passed away.
She had been a machinist all her life and worked in various sewing factories up in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
When I used to work for M&S suppliers she always used to ask me ‘what are the colours going to be next year?’ because she knew we would be working on the next years collections and she wanted to be ahead of the times! She always liked to talk sewing and fabric and clothing and was a lot of fun.
When the time came to clear her house we went along with the rest of the family to help out. Little did we know what awaited us when we opened the door to her sewing room. She had hoarded fabric, zips, trims, buttons, thread everything related to sewing you could ever think of.
We found numerous half-finished garments but the biggest shock of all was the sheer amount of fabric.

Being a sewer myself it was heartbreaking to see, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take it all and that some of it might end up being dumped.
I ended up with 4 large suitcases full and various relatives took some. Some of it wasn’t worth keeping (sorry Rona!) and my mother-in-law (from the make do and mend generation) couldn’t bear to see it wasted so my husband had to make at least 4 journeys in our estate car with the seats all down to get it back to his mums house where we stored it in her garage. Eventually the local college took a lot of it but sadly some of it had to be dumped.

I just wanted to tell that story as an example of how sewing and fabric can become an addiction. I can’t bear to throw away scraps if I think I might end up using them for something but occasionally have to force myself to go back through and get rid.
Anyway along with a whole load of fabric, zips, buttons etc I kept this cute sewing box.

I love the tag ‘A Chard Product British Made’ I also love the fact that my husband’s uncle had probably revarnished it over the years, you can see a little drip on the underside of the lid and the inside is painted pink and is scratched away in places.

I collected together lots of vintage bits and pieces that belonged to Aunty Rona and I keep them in the box.

I love the ‘Singer lubricant for electric motors’ the needle threader and the wooden cotton spools. I also keep my vintage buttons and buckles in the box and I do use them when I make my clothes but I don’t think I will ever use the other bits and pieces, for some reason I feel I should keep them.

They will probably just sit in the box and occasionally when I’m looking for buttons I will look at them and smile. Isn’t it funny how we like to keep old things, just for the fact of keeping them? I do it with other things too, I have drawers full of old sewing magazines, vintage American matchbooks and postcards. I have a box full of my nans old things in my loft – really old postcards that she used to write and send home to her sisters when she was in service in the 1920s. I rarely look at them but could never get rid of them, maybe it’s just sentimental and maybe we keep different things for different reasons.

Do you hang on to things, is it for sentimental reasons or just plain hoarding?

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