Vintage sewing ephemera

A few months back now I was going through some boxes in my loft.

I knew I had a box full of bits and pieces that belonged to my Great Aunt Gladys which had been passed on to me by her son who knew I was interested in family history.
Anyway I spent a few hours up there going through this box, loving vintage sewing supplies as I do, and took quite a few photos thinking I would share them on social media. On looking through them I thought they would make pretty lousy social media post but I didn’t want to delete them.
Looking through them again I thought I might just put them together in a blog post. I do love a bit of family history and it all kind of ties in with my love of textiles and vintage, and I guess there’s a bit of social history in there too.

Aunty Gladys was born in 1917 and was the youngest of my nans 4 sisters. She lived in the same village as I grew up in so we did see her from time to time.

antique ribbons and lace
vintage lace
silk stocking box
vintage ribbons

This was originally an ‘artificial silk’ stocking box full of ribbons and lace trims is amazing, I’m guessing from wartime. I really don’t think I could bring myself to sew with them but it makes me happy to know that they are still with me.

maids cap
RJ Glass Wisbech
old price ticket

These things belonged to her. She and her sisters went into service when they left school and this is one of her new caps still with the price attached. I Googled the name of the shop and came across a photo of the shop it was bought from in Wisbech (which is the town where I was born)

antique housemaid apron
Horrockses label
old price ticket

And this was one of her unused aprons, also with the price still attached. Look at the lovely Horrockses Reg’d Cloth label. The apron is a bit yellowed from storage but I can’t bring myself to wash it, it will stay folded and stored as she left it. The cotton fabric quality is amazing – it’s really really long too.

The sisters all worked in service and I have a huge photograph album full of postcards that they used to send each other. If they had been home for a weekend they would send a card to say they had arrived back safely. There were also some birthday cards of which there were too many to photograph, but I did spend a good length of time looking through them and reading the messages they had written to each other.

Encyclopedia of needlework
courtaulds fabrics advert

The WH Smith & Son Encyclopedia of Needlework is in immaculate condition, with gilded edges to the pages and beautiful endpapers which I photographed really badly so can’t show you. I took all these photos on the spur of the moment in my loft which is why they are not great. The Courtaulds Fabrics advert interested me since I used to work for Courtaulds Textiles

Vintage Woman and Home magazine
antique sampler

I love the Woman and Home magazine and this sampler is interesting. It appears to have the date 1896, which is odd since Aunty Gladys wasn’t born until 1917. Maybe it was stitched by her mum – it looks strangely modern, maybe it’s the colouring?

1950s postmark
retro sewing transfers
sewing transfers
hand written envelope

A few final bits and pieces – I love the fact that she sat and traced off the ‘Needlework’ wording, and also that she kept the envelope that she received the Bestway transfers in. Imagine getting something in the post that you’ve sent off for and it arrives from London in a hand written envelope. The first photo is the stamp and postmark of the envelope in the last pic – it is from 1950 something, I can’t make out the last digit!

cutwork embroidery

And to finish this beautiful embroidered cutwork tablecloth, it must have taken hours and hours.

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