The Sewing Basket

Inside this sewing basket is the most unique display of hand stitching I have ever seen.  Obviously a young girl was learning the different techniques and methods of hand sewing – some of which are hard to believe and these pictures will not do this handwork justice.

Here are cuffs, buttonholes and assorted seams.

Here is darning – so perfect it hardly shows.

Inset lace, Indy tucks and an overhand seam in a piece of fabric paired up with an uncut piece of lace.  I don’t know how she did this!

Nobody likes to patch, do they?

Here’s another patch – almost hidden.

Sample stitches

I think these would be considered plackets.  Does anyone know for sure?

Four different decorative  stitches up close.

And this little piece is the same on both sides – no seams showing!

I put the pin in one side and then flipped it so you could see it’s two different sides.

This sewing basket is a little treasure trove for sewing enthusiasts.  I wish I could share it in person because I know you’d be just shaking your heads like I am.  What a fun find!

I spent the afternoon mowing yesterday but then Reed and I had time to move his plants to my basement for the winter.  We also made a side trip to Central Gardens in Clear Lake.  I took his picture by this plant because I always thought that tall one was a water plant.  Guess not so next year I’m going to plant some in pots, too,

And you’ll all be jealous of Diane Dodd who finished piecing Connie’s orange and black quilt and now it’s on to quilting it.  You did a nice job, Diane!  Thanks for showing us the results from that blog post.

Another note – Ruth Brown’s oil painting of the Little Brown Church was priced at 50 cents at the thrift store which made me quite sad really.  It’s worth so much more especially to me.

Remember that succulent that I started just by laying the petals on top of the dirt?

Here are the two pots today – all growing nicely.

And here are a few more pictures from the quilt show.

Whew!  This got to be a long post!    Hope I haven’t bored you!  Talk to you soon!

65 thoughts on “The Sewing Basket

  1. Judith Berna

    I always marvel at what fine sewing people did long ago. They didn’t throw anything away and mended items. The samples that you have of mending is unbelievable. That basket you got was a real treasure with all those pieces.

  2. Carolyn Van Petten

    Thank you for sharing all your finds, they are lovely!!!!! The quilts are beautiful as well.

  3. Lee

    Mary, I ,too, look forward to your blog. It’s not the Goat Gazzett, but it’s close and more than once a season…only three editions. Summer winter and fall…no spring in Iowa!
    The sewing basket is something I definitely would have bought. The contents needed to be appreciated and all of your readers appreciate needlework.
    Have a delightful day. Lee

  4. Vickie Devore

    Wow!! I don’t know which impressed me the most, the sewing basket stitches or more quilt pictures or your plants!! Love it all, thanks so much for sharing, vickie

  5. Marian

    Thank you, Mary, for sharing your “find” of the sewing basket with all the museum-quality contents. Just fantastic. I know you will treasure all the wonderful needlework. Reed and the plant are great to see. Quilts awesome. And, the succulents; you truly have a green thumb! Thank you for your efforts to keep us in the know! I so look forward to your writings!

  6. Janice

    Just amazing work in that little basket! What a treasure. I’m glad it found a good home. Love the quilts also, I don’t quilt any more but I appreciate seeing what others do. I’m more of a rug hooker now. And I’m going to be learning how to use a cricket loom tonight! Can’t wait!


    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jan – please tell me what a cricket loom is – send a picture to my email if you have one – sounds intriguing.

  7. Cathy Platzer

    I just love your posts. What a find in that sewing basket, can’t believe it was still intact after so many years. Someone’s special memories!
    Miss you and the the farm.

  8. Sharon Geiger

    Loved the sewing basket! What a great find! Thanks for sharing the contents! Loved the quilt pics, too.

  9. Julianna

    Oh Mary – thanks so much for sharing that beautiful handwork! I still have my Mom’s work. She stored it in a tin marked All Pax Coil Form because, like you, she used what she had. How did we get away from that useful practice?? Inside this tin are two sets of pillowcases. One is floral – typical and understandable. The other is horses – we lived in the city and we didn’t have a car so there was no “going to the country”, certainly no riding horses. I’m sorry now I never thought about it and asked her where they came from. My suspicion is that again, she used what she had. I just love that because we all know new is not necessarily better. Sorry to go off on my own little thoughts here :-/ Love that Reed is enjoying your wisdom, he’ll be a great man someday. Oh, and Mary, you NEVER bore me, and I suspect no one else either! Enjoy your day.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Julianna – we wrote a quilt book years ago called Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without! W should be more mindful of our wastefulness, shouldn’t we?

      1. Julianna

        Mary, thanks for sharing the name of your book. I’ve never heard of it but it sounds like it’s right up my alley. I’m going to search for it online! Thanks again!!

  10. ANITA Fetzer

    Oh myes what beautiful work someone did. Patches are a work of art. What a treasure you have. You never bore, inspire a lot which is a good thing. What a friend you and Reed have in each other. Just keep informing us, we love your emails

  11. Ruth

    Thank you for showing the front and backs of those pieces of old-fashioned sewing!! It’s amazing what tiny stitches she could take. Her eyesight must have been really good. I appreciate being able to see such work!

  12. Sandra

    Wow.What a great find in the basket.I am so glad it was found by someone who realized the value of the pieced of the handwork.Thank you for sharing the pictures.I think,I am going to start an orage and black quilt today.I can always clean the garage another day.

  13. Kathy Hanson

    Wow! What a find that sewing basket was – truly amazing!! No one does that anymore, such a lost art.
    The orange and black quilt is beautiful, I am working on one too. Such interesting quilts at the show,
    fun to see what people do. What fun for you and thank you for sharing!

  14. Cathy

    What an absolute treasure that sewing basket is. Wouldn’t you love to know the history of who it was that had it? I love things like this.

  15. Pam Wakeman

    Thank you so much for revealing the contents of the sewing basket. Just fascinating. I can’t wait to show your post to my 93-year-old mother who’s a retired Home Ec. teacher, when I go to see her in Indiana! I enjoy all your posts!

  16. Bobbie Knight

    I love to see the treasures you find. The sewing basket is a amazing! Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

  17. Charlotte Barnard

    Mary I love all your posts and photos and especially your fine partner on the farm, Reed. What a dear young man.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Charlotte – Reed is a really nice boy – very polite but still enthusiastic about plants, animals, farm life, etc. he’d like to make a rug this winter. I am so lucky he wants an old lady for a friend!

  18. Diane M

    What talent that young lady had! I wonder if some of the plackets could also be used for the openings on a cuff. Too bad so many schools do not teach sewing anymore. I took sewing all four years of high school. I’d be lost without it. As others have written, I enjoy your posts. Keep up the good work!

  19. Helen Jane

    Mary…Thanks for sharing your various interests. Of course it is difficult as to what is my choice since I like it all. I enjoy learning the history behind “The Little Brown Church and other finds. Also the various comments from your blog readers. Sometime I go “quiet” and may not say “thank-you” but I am reading/learning/benefiting and enjoying all your time spent sharing. So here is a Texas size Thanks!

  20. Carolyn Boutilier

    Mary, thanks for showing the wonderful finds in your sewing basket. The quilt show had to be stunning with all the quilts. What will you do with the succulents for the winter, house in front of window for winter?Your posts are never boring. i look forward to them each day. thanks.
    Carolyn B in Shenandoah valley VA

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Carolyn – I’ll be posting pictures of the plants all moved inside.

  21. Rebecca Haines

    What a great find! Those stitches are amazing. Enjoyed the quilt show too! sweet posts, thank you

  22. Donna Sproston

    I am sure most of us smile when we see there is another post from you! Never boring, I am so happy you rescued that sewing basket and that painting.

  23. Diane

    That basket and its contents are wonderful. My Nana was born in Northern Ireland. At three she went to the Convent School even though they were Presbyterian. She learned to knit and the abacus at three and tatting and sewing at four!! She was an amazing quilter, seamstress, and knitter. I am happy you saved the picture. It will be cherished at your house😃 Love all the pictures and the posts– never boring!!

  24. Janice Brown

    Really enjoyed looking at the fine stitching /samples in the sewing basket. Thank you for sharing.

  25. Margie

    I could truly read your posts all day. I like seeing everything happening with your quilting and your gardening. I could not get bored. Thanks for sharing all your adventures with us.

  26. Ann Barlament

    Never, in a hu dred years will my “patch” job look like the plaid example. Someone has too much perfection in them!!

    All your treasures remind of some of the things I found in my great grandmother’s treadle sewing machine.

  27. Marilyn

    Mary never are the things boring…..exploring the past is an adventure and amazement, Thank you for sharing.

  28. Robin Boggan

    Wow Mary what a treasure you have found! Love to see what girls had to learn in sewing. It so wonderful that you shared this with us! Thank you for the great blog!

  29. Sue

    I love to sew but I must admit I am not a good mender. I am pretty good at mending holes in denim jeans (by machine) and learned when our kids were little. Still do it on those barbed wire oops accidents for my husband. But, that mending!! Wow. A work of art! And to think she was a young girl. I agree with an above comment that it is like a museum display. Also, the comment by Fiona was very interesting.

    You are right…I am jealous of the black and orange quilt. Especially since both my husband and I are Oregon Staters. Go Beavers! Don’t kid me. I know they are having a bad year. lol

  30. Angie

    Not quite sure if I am more amazed or more humbled! I find it a little unsettling to know how much I have lowered my personal expectations…I am happy when I can keep my 1/4 inch seam on the machine! Ha!! That little sewing basket holds so many treasures – I am so glad you found it! You appreciate the skill ithose pieces demonstrated and then shared that with all of us. Thank you so much!

  31. Kathy

    What a wonderful and diverse blog today. I loved the photos from the quilt show and the sewing basket find made for an interesting guess as to who would discard such brilliant pieces of work? It’s amazing that so much talent was hidden in that sewing basket. I hope you are ready to settle in and do more quilting as i enjoy how you give good directions on the “how to” part. That painting by Ruth Brown is a remarkable find and I’m sure the “Little Brown Church” will be displayed prominently in your home. Great way to decorate on a budget is to go to thrift stores and have a general idea of what you want before stepping foot in the store!

  32. K. Gerber

    The little sewing samples are so precious! Someone took the time to teach all of this to another, maybe, youngster. It’s a treasure for sure.

  33. Ruth Cozad

    I loved the post about the sewing samples left in the sewing basket. Some where a long time ago someone was learning different techniques I imagine and had to have samples to show perhaps a teacher. I remember putting my sewing samples in college in a notebook which was graded by the teacher. Sadly I have discarded it in one of my moves I guess. I enjoy and look forward to all your posts. Thanks

  34. Nancy

    Thank you for sharing your post. That handwork was marvelous! There was a ‘young ladies school ‘ in my town years ago that also taught these skills. I was amazed then, that females had to learn these skills in order to be classified as ‘refined and educated ‘! I’m glad that times have changed but I am still in awe of your find!

  35. maxine lesline

    Absolutely fascinating… probably way above the usual stitching skills of many women of that era… the darning was a head-shaker… I know that needle skills were part of the home -education for girls.. even very young ones…. In Williamsburg there is (was ?)live enactment demonstrating the importance of teaching young girls.

  36. Janie

    Awesome find! I like to decorate my sewing area with old notions. Thanks for all the great pictures!

  37. Fiona at Ice Bear Quilts

    That basket: what a find! Fabulous contents. In Europe up until the 1930’s say, it was usual for girls to be taught these sorts of darning and sewing skills at school, especially if they were eventually going into ‘service’ as a lady’s maid, or to join the domestic staff of a large private house. They often had to show examples of their work, to prove that they could do mending etc, which was a common task. Facility with lace was especially prized, as most aristocratic ladies had lace-trimmed undewear that needed frequent attention! So one took one’s sewing sample basket along to the job interviews.

  38. ada montessoro

    What a wonderful surprise in that basket. Was they any indication whose work that was?

  39. Jan Smith

    The little church was priced way too low, but it’s great that you snapped it up. Thanks for the shares!

  40. Jane dumler

    The basket contents are wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to post the pictures. Too bad our young girls are not taught needle arts any more. My mother sewed like that and I have her black basket that still holds bits of lace like it did for her.

  41. Bonnie

    P.S. I agree with Katie Hayse. The quilts from the show give me an inferiority complex!! Mine would surely not be in a show unless they had a category titled ” Don’t let this happen to you!” I like to sew anyway.

  42. Bonnie

    Wow!! My Mom could mend like that. She used to turn my Dad’s collars too to save money ( of which they barely had any ) and get more wear out of the shirts.

    And, I have a basket that looks just like the one in your blog post. I’ve had it since I was in high school.

    I sure enjoy your posts, Mary.

  43. Brenda C

    What a find. It is wonderful that the stitching samples have found their way into the hands of a quilter. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Ellie

    Thanks for the “long” post! Bored? Never! The stitcher you is beautiful! It would be interesting to know if she ever used these skills. Too bad you don’t have any background!

    The quilts from the show are truly outstanding. Thanks for sharing.

  45. Katie Hayse

    Wow! It seems like all those little stitches should be in a frame or a museum. So lovely. I’m not sure if I would have ever had the patience to do that.
    The quilts at the show just give me an inferiority complex. The piecing not so much but the quilting. All those tiny stitches! I am just lucky to get a pantograph or stencil done!
    Am sitting here with my foot up. I was cleaning up my sewing room in bare feet, of course, and I stepped near a wasp and, of course, he stung me. I am not allergic but it sure hurt! As soon as it quits throbbing, I will go back. He won’t bother anyone anymore. I made sure of that! Stay well!

  46. Diane

    Mary, I look forward to your posts every day. Your life is truly blessed. Thanks so much for sharing!

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