THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 25, 2007

The Ghost of Christmas Past

My mother sent me these vintage needle booklets for Christmas – aren’t they wonderful?  She said in her note that she found them at a “second hand sale” and as soon as I opened them I felt an immediate and powerful connection to the sewist who used them.

My favorite tools are always the ones I make myself.  I made the needle book below a few years ago when I was going through a bit of OCD while trying to embroider a proper bullion rose.  

The “cover” is filled with two pieces of plastic canvas zigzagged round the edges, then trimmed.  I added flannel pages and stitched a center “binding” between the pieces of plastic canvas.   I have a collection of vintage needles I that like to use for embroidery and hand sewing, so I store them in this booklet.


I have this fantasy that the woman who made the vintage needle books was just as pleased as I was when she finished hers.  The fronts and back are two colors of wool felt, and the pages are white flannel.  The butterfly is missing one antenna, but the simple silk floss embellishment is still bright.  The flower basket is embellished with posies stitched from french knots and lazy daisy stitches for leaves.  The handle of the basket folds down to show the needles.  Based on the shapes and colors I’d say both date from the late 1930’s to mid 1940’s.  I love the imagery from this era because it reminds me of my grandmother and my great aunts.

I doubt I’ll take the needles out – I’d rather leave them just as they are, as they were, the last time the unkown maker touched them.   A sewing moment frozen in time; a tangible link to the past and a respite from modern life.


  1. These are lovely! I know the feeling of not wanting to take the needles out. When my son, now 28, was 7 he took all the little pins out of my red-apple pin cushion and stuck them back in close together to write the words “I [heart] you mom, [heart] Harry”. I’ve never taken those pins out either

    Comment by Cathi — December 25, 2007 @ 5:03 pm

  2. What a great find! They do seem to need to be “left alone” . It makes me want to make one of my own.

    Comment by nancy W — December 26, 2007 @ 1:20 am

  3. oooh what a treasure!

    Comment by tinijoens — December 26, 2007 @ 5:38 am

  4. Wow, that was a nice gift. I received a needle book as a gift from an ASG member prior to Christmas. I had not seen such before and was so pleased that I received one. Obviously I have missed something along the way during my years of sewing. I enjoyed reading your post.

    Comment by Linda L — December 28, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  5. How beautiful! I think I must make one to store my grandmother’s needles that I have had for many years. While I love that they are stored in the original spice glass jar that she kept them in, several of the very large curved ones would be better served in something a bit nicer. Thanks for the idea!

    Comment by Barb — December 29, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

  6. These are beautiful – They make me want to make some, too

    Comment by Eluned — December 31, 2007 @ 5:31 am

  7. These are really beautiful and are a lovely idea for making gifts! Thank you for sharing these with us!

    Comment by Tany — January 3, 2008 @ 7:11 pm

  8. […] is the pattern for the butterfly needle case.  There are no instructions, and you should be albe to figure outon your own how to make […]

    Pingback by A Sewing Trinket from the Divas « The Sewing Divas — January 18, 2008 @ 5:55 pm

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