Monday, August 27, 2007


Sew Sew (yawn) Sewing Susan

I apologize right from the start if you think this post is monotonous. I would totally agree with you. I have umpteen kazillions of these among my collection of needlebooks.

I am sure that these are nothing new to just about all of you. However, I felt it was one of those posts that was necessary. I would say "seen one, seen them all". But on closer inspection, they are not all the same. I will invite you to spot the differences. (And be thankful that I didn't put every book in with different "types and amounts" of needles!)
(Don't forget to click on picture for larger image)

Below - inside one of the "Sewing Susans"

Below - We move on to the next group of sewing ladies.

These are the newest needlebooks of the group.

Below - Sewing Circle and Sewing Club

I welcome all readers who are able to date any of these books for me. We know that they are Made in Japan going by the covers and the needle threaders.

Still more needlebooks to come!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007



Another favourite of mine are cottage scenes.

Top left - Milward's
Top right - Abel Morrall's
Bottom - Abel Morrall's

Top left -Milward's
Top right - A G Baylis
Bottom - Kirby Beard

Left - no name (says - Made in Redditch, England)
Top right - Abel Morrall's
Bottom right - Superior

Two Dutch scene needlebooks above are Abel Morrall's, in new mint condition, with the price tags of 5/11.

Top - City Square, Leeds - Crowleys
Centre - "Hauling timber through the Australian Bush" -Superior
Bottom - "A view at Kingscote" - Superior

Coming up - Sewing Susan!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Fabulous Female Images

I have chosen to start this section with the lovely ladies that grace the covers of needlebooks. The books vary in size from 6 X 7 cms up to 12 X 16 cms.
Below is a small list of the popular needlemaker companies that were producing needlebooks in the twentieth century.

Abel Morrall
Wm. Hall & Co. Ltd.
Henry Milward & Sons
Morris & Yeomans
A G Baylis & Sons
Kirby, Beard & Co. Ltd
John James & Sons
W Bartleet & Sons

Heath & Gills (Czechoslovakia)
Brabant Needle Co.

Top left - Masked lady/harlequin - Milward
Top right - Sweet girl with flowers - no name
Bottom left - Crinoline lady - Morris & Yeomans
Bottom right - Lady in hat - Superior

Top left - Lady with fox fur - John James
Top right - Georgian couple - A G Baylis
Bottom left - Lady with wreath - Kirby, Beard
Bottom right - Young crinoline Miss -A G Baylis

Top left - Young lady with cat - Majesty
Top right - Lady with feather fan - A G Baylis
Bottom - Sweet girl (deteriorating picture) - A G Baylis

Above - inside the Young crinoline Miss needlebook

Above - inside the Masked lady/harlequin needlebook.

And one more - a cute girl in a bonnet/valentine - no name

Part Six soon!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Beary Brief Interlude


This is a little post about pincushions before I get back to needlebooks (promise!).
A few of you have been waiting patiently for me to post my pincushions, and I have been going through the boxes for them. As they come to light, I am photographing them.
However, I do try to stay with a theme, this time "Bears". .....a little too soon after the Black Forest Bears post you may say, but it is only a few. There are some other animals, too.

Going by other blogs, there are a very large number of us who adore pincushions both vintage and new. The number of patterns available is amazing - and I would believe this "craze" has been carried down through the years. Many of the vintage magazines and needlework books carried patterns for pincushions of all types. If you do start collecting pincushions, there are many to choose might even pick a theme and just collect those - well, bears, of course, cats, dogs, or animals in general, shoes, figures, metal, china, handmade, made in Japan, just to give you a small sample. Also, many pincushions are multi-purpose, i.e. - they might include tape measures, thimble holders, needle holders, scissor holders, etc.

Below - from new to old, (I had to put in a Black Forest Bear!)
The bear on the left is so cute, the bear itself was made in China and the extras added to it by "Settler Design" - Melbourne, Australia. This was a recent purchase from a Melbourne craft show. I am not sure how old the "BF" bear is but probably from around the 30's - 40's.

Below - these three bears (made in Japan), are also tape measures (pull their tongue) and I had always questioned whether they were bears until I found the two dogs in the picture following this one. There is a little china bear in front with the top of his head being the pincushion (poor thing!). The bear in the little case is just being cute.

Dog pincushions function also as tape measures, made in Japan.
Cat (or is it a bear?), Dog, and Elephant sitting atop of pincushions. These are also tape measures - just pull their tail. These are made in Japan probably 50's - 60's.

Sorry for the poor picture - it isn't easy getting the detail on these metal bears, but they do look much better in person. These were purchased about five years ago - no makers name but probably made in China.
For those who don't know about it, there is a yahoo group "crazyaboutpincushions" where you will find all sorts of pincushion info and links. If you love pincushions, become a member and you will find a wonderful group of fellow pincushion lovers, plus lots of patterns, photos, etc.

Back to needlebooks next time, and there will be more pincushions when the series of needlebooks is complete.

Monday, August 13, 2007



"Skins of beasts were used by primitive man for making his protective covering, and as the processes became known for tanning, leather assumed an important role, extending from ancient times to the present day in the life of mankind.
Hand-made leather goods are well worth having, durable and individual, expressed in general design and good workmanship" ......

The above introduction is found in "Handicrafts of the Country Women's Association of Victoria" (CWA) published in 1968.
For more information on leatherwork see here.

Below are two leather needlebooks which I think were handmade.
Left - dyed green with decorative painting of a rose which has deteriorated a little.
Right - very well painted kookaburras.

Top - the inside of the kookaburra needlebook with a totally unsuitable heavy cotton insert.
Bottom - the inside of the rose needlebook.

Below is a very attractive leather needlebook with a crinoline lady on the cover. I believe this to have possibly been mass-produced. Maybe in a cottage industry by leather workers, the detail is lovely. The crinoline lady figure has been individually worked and glued on to the front as are the tiny flowers.

Below - while not specifically needlebooks, I have included these as they are obviously from the same makers as the needlebook above.
Two mending sets made of leather.

How much can a Koala bear? The Koala is not a bear but a marsupial. More information on the Koala will be found here.
Below - this thicker leather needlebook is Made in England with an embossed Koala on its cover, it says 'Koala Bear' underneath the picture.

Below - inside the Koala needlebook - made by Kirby Beard & Co. Ltd and showing the elephant trademark.

Coming soon - Part Five
Redditch Needle Companies - Morrall, Kirby Beard, Milward, Bayliss, Crowley, etc.....

Friday, August 10, 2007


Who originated the idea of the needlebook? Was it an exercise for young girls at school to practice their skills in sewing and embroidery, and to be given to Mothers as gifts? Needlework projects for bazaars and fairs to raise money for charity? A way to use up leftovers - pieces of silks, other fabric and ribbons? A way of sharing embroidery stitches like the samplers of the day?
Do you have any ideas as to who, where, why?

Like a million other questions we have about where many things originated, I suppose there will never be any definite answer. But we can be thankful that they exist. Collectors of vintage sewing appreciate the effort, the time, and the creativity that went into many of these needlebooks. Some are simply made, some are very elaborate, but they are all beautiful.

Above left - fabric covered card (obviously this one was using up pieces of leftover fabric, there is a seam top right hand corner), there are a few moth holes too. Right - a simply embroidered felt needlebook.

Above and below - Is this the cuff off a sleeve?

Below - a green silk needlebook, top ..and an open-weave wool embroidered cotton needlebook, bottom.

Above - the green silk needlebook also has a pocket inside.

Below left - an embroidered needlebook with the initials H A. Right - a needlebook decorated with ribbon flowers.

Below left - this is a newly-made crocheted needlebook with a vintage button worked for me by my dear friend Susan. A precious gift!
And right - another fabric-covered card vintage needlebook - petite size.

Please be in touch if you know of any history of the needlebook.

Still more to come!

Ain't She Sweet!

Thanks so much Linda for nominating me! Since I am still new to blogging with just a few blogging friends so far, I have only one other to nominate (Susan and Linda obviously cannot be nominated again or can they? ...well, at least I can second their nominations), so it will be the enthusiastic, effervescent, and extremely clever, all-round niceperson, Noreen of hankeringforyarn - (Crone-Findlay).
LATER - I feel terrible, I had forgotten about Jane of Jane's Jots.
Jane is also nominated for a Nice Matters Award!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Sunbonnet Sue

Bertha Corbett Melcher, an American illustrator, is regarded as the "Mother of Sunbonnet Sue", illustrating many children's books published in the early 1900s.

The Sunbonnet Sue images became a perfect choice for many needlework projects, especially in quilts in the form of applique and redwork.

These vintage needlebook bonnets are so sweet and have become a popular pattern to make up. You can find a pattern to make your own in the Sunbonnet Sue website along with more information on Bertha Melcher, Kate Greenaway, and many more designs.

I think it is interesting to show the way the inside of the needlebooks have been completed. The three shown here have been worked differently.

This one has what is called a "duck tail".

Felt - always popular and convenient to quickly work into a needlebook of various designs. Below is a small bonnet, simply worked with flowers. This one also has filling in the crown for pins.

Below, an ever-popular bonnet needlebook. The bonnet here also doubles for use as a thimble holder. If you would like to try one for yourself, there is a pattern here which can be made up simply as is or you can add you own unique finishes.

Part Three coming soon!

Monday, August 06, 2007


Victorian Needlebook

Handmade needle books were made from many different materials, many of which from materials found on hand - we find leather, card, felt, silk ribbon, fabric of all sorts, and a very popular crafting pastime from the Victorian era we find perforated paper.

This small Needle Book below measures 6.5 cms X 5.5 cms (2 1/2 inches X 2 1/4 inches) closed. The needlework is very simple but still quite attractive. The blue ribbon has become a little worn over the years but I believe it shows that it was a much-loved gift from a daughter to her mother.

Worked on the back of the needlebook are the words - "For Mamma - From Emily".

The inside of the needlebook here shows the woollen pages and the fabric stitched lining.

Perforated paper or perforated card-work is believed to have originated in Germany and introduced to North America in the 1820's. Bookmarks were popular with earlier examples usually of a religious nature intended to be placed in the family Bible. Ideas and patterns were available from the magazines of the time, using mottos such as - Christ is Risen, Obey Your Parents, Labour Has Sure Reward, Forget Me Not, Abide With Me, Rock of Ages, etc. Many framed mottos adorned a wall or were hung above the door to greet visitors.

For further information, click here.

There will be a lot more needlebooks coming up..... I will be 'looking into' more handmade needlebooks, and those made by such Redditch needle companies as Morrall, Milward, Kirby Beard, etc., and also coming up will be needlebooks/needlecards like the ever-popular Sewing Susans and the like.