Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Inside the Sewing Box

This would make a great title for a novel - but, in this case, it's going to be a relatively short story...

Remember the sewing box I bought at the Bellac brocante?

Sewing Box

The box itself is fairly plain, and is solidly made of oak. I have no idea of its age and it could date from the 30s or the 50s, when every wife and mother would have needed something like this.  There are two drawers and the top one cantilevers back to show the contents of the lower one...

box open

A slight design flaw is that you cannot ever see the entire contents of the bottom drawer, as the top one obscures it ( I guess if the top one went back further, the box would be in danger of tipping over) and this means you have to scrabble around inside with your hand to find stuff.  Note to self:  must remember not to put anything sharp in that drawer!

Looking through the contents was like looking into something my grandmother might have had. (if she could have even threaded a needle!)  Actually my grandmother considered that she was herself too much of a decorative item to ever perform menial tasks such as sewing.  She couldn't cook either, and I never saw her produce so much as a piece of toast.  My mother stayed home from the age of 13 and looked after the family (there were 5 other children so at least grandmother was good at something!) and therefore my mother was an expert needlewoman and a good cook. She also had a patient and sunny nature - all talents which I, obviously, have inherited! (Please, please, no lightning bolts...)

Anyway, I digress...

Inside the sewing box I found some interesting, useful and lovely things.  This little needlebook, for example, which is small and beautiful.  I think it may be made of olive wood, but I can't quite make out the writing on the front...

Needlecase outside

...apart from the fact that it starts with 'Chat...' and ends with '...ton'.  I would guess it is a souvenir and that the word is a place name.  There are a lot of places in France...

Inside the needlebook is a piece of wool flannel, beautiful edged with feather stitch embroidery and further adorned with some tiny flowers...

Needlecase inside

It is not sewn in place, but tucked under a little cord which is anchored between the outside of the needlebook and its green lining. A great idea, I think, as it allows you to create new 'pages' as when your needle collection requires!

Another wooden item (Treen is the collective name for this kind of thing, I believe) is the egg, which would have been used for darning. (My Mum had a wooden mushroom, which I still have somewhere - though I have never darned anything in my life!)

darning egg

Alongside the egg in the picture above, you can see a box of woven laundry labels - so typically French but, to my surprise, made by Cashs of Coventry!  Here is a closer picture...

woven Cash's labels

I have several items of English linen, embroidered with initials (usually in black) but don't recall seeing these woven labels used in England.  I do wonder what would have happened if there were TWO people with laundry being washed and the same initials... Grand Catastrophe!!!

Anyway, these are quite close to my own initials (P P) so all I have to do is Tippex out the little curly downstroke at the front of the 'R' and who would ever know?

See what I mean?


...anyway, all this short story stuff has exhausted me for the moment, so I'll bring you Episode 2 another day!  Off to pour myself a restorative glass of wine...

9 comments:

Annie said...

Oh wow what a find Penny. I would have loved to have sorted out all those special things.
Hugs,
A x

moleymakes said...

What an excellent find. I can see the problem regarding the bottom drawer. I would keep threads or fabric there.

How unusual to have a gran who never baked, sewed or knitted.

Angela said...

What a lovely box. I really must get on and refurbish the sewing box I was given back in July.

Sadly I think that nowadays there are quite a few Grans who cannot bake, sew or knit.

If I ever get grandchildren I plan on teaching them such skills [whatever gender they are!]

Floss said...

Oh, I love this find! I've never found anything close to my own initials, but I do have some French-made red initial tapes. I bet those Cash's ones were made for the French market - how international of them!

Flaming Nora said...

Wow! how very lucky you are. I love finds like this, spending hours wondering what each items history is, who's socks were darned, who bought the needle case, was it a gift, did she buy it for her self, was it on holiday? Day trip? Oh I could wonder for ever. Enjoy your finds!

Twiglet said...

What a treasure box that is! x Jo

Elizabethd said...

It's lovely. What a pity the writing isnt clearer. It looks almost like 'Chatoli...ton', difficult to think where it might be.

marigold jam said...

What a lovely find. It looks like Chatellaiton which according to the net is a seaside town just south of La Rochelle which would seem likely given where you live doesn't it? Lovely box

quilterliz said...

G'day Penny. That is lovely, though it is a shame about the bottom drawer. But, nonetheless, it is a beautiful piece. I think that I too could have a glass of wine about now. Take care. Liz...