Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Needles and Pins

Throughout history needles have been a necessity. Bone, wood and steel were all fashioned into an object that could be used to sew pieces of cloth, animal skins, beads...into garments and coverings.

Over time pins and needles were carried from one place to another; for a quick repair, an afternoon of sewing and conversation over a quilt, even on the battlefield. Pin keeps, needle holders, pincushions, make-dos all began to be a reflection of one's status, artistic ability, frugalness and expression. A few are shown here to demonstrate the endless variety.

* Bead work needle keep from the Iroquois made for the trade, felt Southern Belle, antique tulip needle kit, tattered silk tomato.

* This antique piece was made by an Old Order Mennonite that migrated North in a covered wagon, in the very early years of the 1800s. The silk, a soft faded brown is in the shape of a tulip, a common Mennonite symbol. All hand stitched, its little wool pages are still holding the needles.

*A mohair pear complete with branch stem by artist Cathy Pendleton of The Cheswick Company.

* Petite German half-doll with lace dress pincushion, Victorian metal shoe, 1920s globe (sawdust filled).

Whether mass-produced or hand-made, they all bring a touch of nostalgia, colour or uniqueness to the sewing table.

Because I live in the "House of Stuff" I'm always looking for different ways to put the goodies and castoffs I collect to use. By spray painting an old brass candelabra silver (complete with mythical dolphins on the base), mounting a silver plate seashell on top and adding bits and bobs from drawers, boxes, the bead store and the dollar store, I have created a new fantasy pin keep.

A few pearl headed pins, silver Abalone thimble, some pearl fairy beads to the wings and a handmade Swarovski crystal tiara complete the theme.

I've named her The Pearl Fairy Make-Do.

And you thought I was lying around in the hammock watching the clouds go by.


BumbleVee said...

what a deluxe "dainty" for your sewing area.... I love that it is a "make do" and you got to rework a few things...

Lori said...

Susan, what a wonderful post! i love all of the pin~cushions you showed, the photos as always are just beautiful...and the pin keep you have created is pure magic...what a fabulous idea!!! you are really so inspiring to me:)

Fete et Fleur said...

Your Pearl Fairy Make-Do is beautiful Susan! I love pin keeps! They can be somewhat of an addiction.


Tres Belle said...


How adorable! I love the pin keep. Isn't it amazing how creative one can be. I would have never thought of the things you used to create your pin keep. Out of all of the pin keeps I adore the pear. So sweet! I did think you might be in the hammock! Ha


Suzanne said...

Love your Pearl Fairy Make-Do...made in true "make-do" fashion. Thank you for sharing some of your pin keep collection!

Joy at Cupids Charm said...

Hi Sweet Susan! I always love coming to your blog for the inspiratin and history of things I love. Beautiful post. I really loved the half doll pin cushion. I am on the search right now for a very special one to call my own someday. I loved your pearl fairy...so creative! :) Have a wonderful weekend. ~ xoxo ~ Joy

Naturegirl said...

Thank you for sharing all these treasures! I love the mohair pear and that metal shoe!! Oh how they are suited to me!!My pear and shoe collection would then be complete!
Raining again here about you.
drenched NG

Ruth Welter said...

Hello Susan, thanks for your visit and I'm happy to have discovered you as well...you have a beautiful blog.

To be a vintage textile appraiser must be so fascinating...I'm always interested in antiques and vintage items, they are very special. I love the pincushions you are showing, just beautiful. As is your garden from one of the posts below. I see you have Hollyhocks...I love them and I grow a cousin of theirs, perennial Hibiscus and love them so much as well.

So nice to meet you, your blog will be a regular stop for me from now on.

Also, you wanted to know about the miniatures, they will be used for display to answer your question.


Tres Belle said...


I've been tagged to tell seven things about myself and then to tag seven people who have blogs to do the same. If you wish to participate, check my blog for instructions. I hope you don't mind.


Heather said...

What a beautiful collection of pin cushions you have there! They really are such lovely little pieces of history, very important. Lovely post as always-

Sea Angels said...

Ah I knew it...of course you are in a hammock watching clouds how else would you think up these lovely things!!

I am always amazed at your wonderful collections and the knowledge that you have about them, never a dull post...... and always beautiful, comes from watching clouds.........I know these things!!
Hugs Lynnxx

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

She certainly doesn't look like a 'make do' creation! Lovely!!

Christine LeFever said...

Sewies are a weakness of mine. I am particularly enamored of your Mennonite needle keeper. Indeed your Pearl is ever so charming. You have a remarkable eye, Miss Maddie!

Christine ~ Zwee!!!!!!!!!

Sandra Evertson said...

She is Divine!
Sandra Evertson

Doreen said...

OOOO..i love them all..however, the antique tulip is my favorite..and Kathy's from The Cheswick Co...And your pearl fairy..she's lovely. I just made a cute little pin keep the other day how funny that you have a post on it!!!

I never thought you were sitting around watching the clouds go by...although it would have been okay if you were..you're entitled!


Lana said...

Oh Susan, pincushions and make-dos are a passion of mine! Thank you for sharing your wonderful treasures. I especially like the tulip.

Obe's said...

What a sweet blog you have I will be back!
Diane at Crafty Passions

Donna O'Brien said...

I see you are carrying on the tradition, Susan. She's wonderful in all of her pearly goodness!!! It's amazing what one can 'do' while lazin' around!!

LW said...

What a lovely post..

I just love The Pearl Fairy Make-Do,
very clever....


Humble Crow said...

What a beautiful blog, Love the pin cushions, the tribute to your beloved kitty.


Stacey said...

Such a wonderful post, you've captured the heart of so many of us with this one! I love looking at pieces of olde and thinking what stories it could tell? I love the whimsy of Cathy (she's such a warm and dear person!) and yours as well. Who could not love a fairy pinkeep?!



Laume said...

That mohair pear looks awfully alot like my real fruit does when I forget it in the fruit bowl for a few days too many! LOL