My Own Vintage Notions

(First off, an apology to anyone whose head might expload if I say the word Vintage one more time this week. Next post – something more contemporary, I promise.)
After reviewing the book Vintage Notions last week, I realized I had never shared some of my own vintage notion collection.  And so today, I will. 

Last year for my birthday, my mom put together a collection of some of the notions and sewing related items that belonged to her mother. I think was probably one of my favorite birthday presents ever. Love the old thimble, the wooden spools and the old needle case.

This was at the same time I was working on my daughter’s pink, aqua and red retro quilt. So my mom tied the gift into that color scheme.  Until I pulled out these items again, I’d forgotten she’d included this vintage hankie. I need to do something with it to go in my daughter’s room! Maybe frame it?

This item was probably my favorite – my grandma’s needle book with her name on it. Roma – don’t you love that name? It was probably always a little exotic for her era. My grandma would be 101 right now. She was a classy lady – and probably an iconic 50’s housewife.  I extra love that it’s in the aqua and pink color scheme.

My mom also included these items from the slightly-less-vintage-but-still-dated-era of my own childhood: the 1970’s. I remember helping my mom make clothes with this pattern for my own My Friend Mandy doll. We made a blue dress and bonnet with the coordinating white eyelet pinafore.  That enfamil can was from when I was born and my mom used it for years to hold her own sewing notions. I still remember it sitting next to her sewing machine. Throw in the fact that it’s pink and it was a very appropriate addition to this three-generation-sewing nostalgia.

 Then, last summer, my other grandma brought me this unassuming, old yellow canister.  She said, “I never sew, and since you do, I’m giving this to you.”
I was so excited when I opened the lid. 
 Inside were a bunch of vintage wooden spools of thread. Some of them probably belonged to her mother.
 I think they’re just pretty to look at. 
I’m still trying to decide what to do with them or how to display them. Suggestions?
There were some other vintage notions in the bottom of the canister.

I love this kind of stuff.  But I love it even more because of the family sentimentality. (I don’t know how many of my grandma’s other grandchildren would have got so excited about a bunch of old spools of thread.) I’m so glad she didn’t just throw them away.  There’s something cool about handling and using something one of your fore-mothers used. I like it.


  1. says

    Love all that STUFF! Funny thing is, I have lots of vintage items like this from my mom and yet I never thought of it as vintage, it was just my mom's stuff. LOL

  2. says

    I have some vintage spools in one of those old blue canning jars with the tin lid. Know what I'm talking about? I think they look pretty in there. My head will not explode if you say "vintage" again.LOL! I LOVE anything vintage. Speaking of "vintage"(there's that word again), I am really wanting to get my hands on a copy of that "Vintage Notions" book.:-)

  3. says

    I had that Mandy doll! I know my mom still has it somewhere and is waiting for me to have a girl before she brings out that doll (and I had another friend of Mandy&#39;s too) and a bigilion Barbies.<br /><br />So nice to have things like this!

  4. says

    The pattern picture brought back such great memories for me. My daughters had those dolls and I had that pattern and remember making all those darling clothes. They still have their dolls and the clothes all these years later. I wonder if I still have the pattern.

  5. says

    What beautiful treasures!!! Have you thought of a shadow box . . . a divided box covered with glass and then hung on the wall like a picture frame. I still have my Mandy doll . . . should pull it out for my girls.

  6. says

    You have no idea how excited I was to see the pattern for the Becky and Mandy doll clothes! My mom had this pattern and made all of the clothes from it for our dolls. My sister and I still have them tucked away at my parents home. We loved the little pioneer girl clothes (our favorite thing to play dress up was pioneer girls and of course we had matching pioneer outfits too.)<br />Thanks for

  7. says

    Oh my goodness! What an amazing little collection. My mom has her mothers sewing collection. And since I&#39;m the only one of her children who sews I hope it comes to me one day. All her patterns unfortunatley got trashed. A non-sewing sister thought &quot;no one would want these old clothes&quot; and send them to the dump. My grandma made a dress every single week for more than 20 years.

  8. says

    What awesome treasures. And because I bought a new camera because my fairly pricy Canon G9would NOT blur pictures even on macro setting(long explanation….which I don&#39;t even understand), let me just give you a shout-out for the third picture from the bottom, the one of the spools of thread, some in focus, some nicely blurred. *sigh* Perfect picture…

  9. says

    Such special gifts. My Grandmother gave me a little bag full of about 20 vintage hankies that belonged to her Mother…I don&#39;t know what to do with them quite yet. I am a afraid to sew them together but really don&#39;t want them just stuffed in a bag. Can&#39;t wait to see what you do with your special hanky.

  10. says

    such wonderful vintage things from your grandmothers! Love them all! I, too, cherish my vintage sewing items that came from my great grandmother and my husband&#39;s grandmother!

  11. says

    I loved looking at your blog. Sew many memories. Sewing really was a huge part of my growing up years. My mother made,then I made, most of my school dresses. They were cute plaids or small prints with coordinating piping around the peter pan collars. The sewing machine was nearly always set up on the kitchen table. The patterns and fabric were cut on the diningroom table. The ironingboard was

  12. says

    Love VINTAGE stuff!<br />And two things Amy – make your daughter a throw pillow with the beautiful handkerchief! I know I saw a tutorial about it this week!!<br />And that doll clothes pattern….I made every one of those outfits for my daughter (who must be your age) and she still has some of them!!<br />I still have the pattern too!<br />Thank you for sharing Amy!

  13. says

    Just looking at all those old wooden spools,the hankie , the sewing bits gives me goose bumps. Sounds silly I know,BUT.That is part of my past just seeing them. I guess a person who does not sew would think me crazy eh? Thanks soo much for that (good feeling) look into the past. Blessings: Dianne.

  14. says

    Ahhh…My Friend dolls. My mom spruced up my old My Friend Becky doll, sewed new clothes and gave it to my girls for Christmas. Then after they loved it so much she got them My Friend Mandy and Jenni. I love them. I need to find a pattern so I can make them some clothes too.

  15. says

    I love your pictures. I know I have old notions from my mom and grandmother, now I have to dig them out and practice some photography! And of course, figure out how to display them.

  16. says

    I love looking at your photos, so many of them seem familiar to me…<br />I have my Grandma&#39;s sewing box… it&#39;s actually in an old film reel cover. I love looking at her stuff especially since she always encouraged me so much to sew.

  17. says

    I inherited my Nana&#39;s old sewing notions. It was such a wonderful trip down memory lane. I still remember her teaching me to sew my very first nightgown. Now I have her old jar of buttons on the table behind my sewing machine. Every once in a while I take off the lid and take a deep breath–so many memories come flooding back. <br />A question about the thread though. The owner of my LQS said

  18. says

    I have many of my Grandmother&#39;s sewing notions. I made a square grapvine wreath and attached many of her spools, quilt pieces, buttons, needle books and such. It hangs on a wall in my sewing room with a sewing machine drawer that I mounted on it&#39;s side and added more items. I LOVE ANYTHING VINTAGE!!

  19. says

    I really love all your vintage notions. I have collected vintage notions from various greats, grandmas and aunts, as well as grandmas. I have tobacco boxes filled with tatting thread, a wooden sewing box with a little of everything, a vintage round Christmas tin with the only quilt blocks my grandmother ever made-feedsack hexies. I too have lots of spools of thread. Im thinking of asking my

  20. says

    I use my Grandmother&#39;s Singer 301 sewing machine, it is in my mother-in-law&#39;s sewing machine cabinet and I use my Mom&#39;s sewing box all the time! I love my vintage notions and I wouldn&#39;t dream of parting with them and I am always on the lookout for old sewing notions when my husband and I go to flea markets during the summer. Thank you for sharing your family&#39;s notions with us!!

  21. says

    wow! some of those things look so familiar. i&#39;m giving away my age…but me mom had some of those notions too and i used them to sew with in the 1960&#39;s.

  22. says

    Wow, that kind of makes me feel bad for boxing up all that &quot;vintage&quot; stuff I had and giving it to Goodwill. I had my grandmother&#39;s old buttons too and sent them to Goodwill.

  23. says

    I love any kind of vintage sewing items. I&#39;m always looking for more…but don&#39;t know what to do with it either…I guess I just like looking at them! I have my great aunt&#39;s wicker sewing basket with old buttons in it…occasionally I dig through it just to look at them! I&#39;m always looking for more at garage sales or auctions. Love this stuff!!

  24. says

    When my mother passed away I was just 22. I inherited basically everything she owned, including a lifetimes worth of sewing supplies. My mother sewed all my clothes when I was small, and made stuffed animals, too. And what did I do with all this wonderful stuff? I was so upset and so raw with grief, every time I looked at any of it, that I threw it all away! Now, MANY years later, I could

  25. says

    Ok, here&#39;s a crazy idea as to what to do with the spools of thread. I really just like looking at them from an &quot;aerial&quot; view like in your last picture. If you could find some sort of clear acrylic box, you could just arrange them how you want them &amp; hang the box on the wall in your sewing room. I think I&#39;d love looking at it…a little piece of graphic sewing art.

  26. says

    I love your vintage &quot;stuff&quot;. It is wonderful. I have my grandmothers Kenmore sewing machine and it came with the drawers full. I cherish the contents. Happy quilting. Lizzie

  27. Susan says

    Roma! I did a double-take because that is my daughter&#39;s name. She is named after my maternal grandmother. We love meeting people who are, or knew someone named, Roma. I sort of &quot;collect&quot; them for my daughter. I have really been enjoying your beautiful work for a while now. Thanks so much!

  28. says

    I love wooden thread spools. Every now and then I feel that I need to find some somewhere, I don&#39;t know why or what I would do with them. They are just so nice to look at.

  29. says

    this post feels like it was written for me:) My grandmothers notions look exactly like yours and i love them very much. Much of my sewing comes from my grandmother, whose name also starts with &#39;R&#39;. I started when i was 8 and would often sew on her machine when we visited in the summer. I have fond memories of all the trips we&#39;d take to the fabric store. She, too, made clothes for my

  30. says

    Hmmm…some of that stuff looks like things in my Mom&#39;s sewing room…maybe I&#39;ll have to raid it!! (She sewed professionally when I was little, and has a lot of notions left from back then.)<br /><br />I am SOOOOOOOOOO jealous of that yellow canister!!!

  31. says

    I made a lamp to display my vintage sewing items. Took a large mason jar put the items in nicely and got a light kit and shade. I made 3 in all one for me and one each for my sewing buddies. They were very happy with them.

  32. says

    i saw this and it looked great! it was a spool wreath…so unique, so cute. I am sure if you googled it you could find some.<br /><br />hope it gave you some inspiration or an idea

  33. says

    I still have my grandmere&#39;s sewing cabinet that my grandfather made for her. It is stocked full of vintage sewing items that she brought from France after WWI. I am holding on to these memories so I can share them with my daughter, daughter-in-law and grandaughter.

  34. says

    I had that doll clothes pattern! It might still be in my mom&#39;s pattern stash! Loved those dolls! They are boxed up in my garage, and I&#39;m thinking they will all end up on ebay….since we still have no girls here 😉 <br />Love the vintage sheet quilt too- beautiful- as always :)

  35. says

    I would definetly make a shadow box for your sewing room to display those vintage items. Use some coordinating fabric for the background of the shadowbox to match your rooms color scheme in maybe a retro pattern for the time.

  36. Heather says

    Great collection of vintage sewing notions! I use old print drawers found at antique shops to display my vintage thread and thimbles. I just hang them on the wall and fill them up.

  37. says

    Roma is My older sister&#39;s name and also my SIL Mother&#39;s name. I haven&#39;t heard it that often. Love the Treasures your Grandma shared with you. I used the old wooden spools I had to make a spool toy for my children when they were little. They have got some 3rd generation drool on them now.

  38. says

    That little needlebook is so sweet. Whatever you do with your vintage collection of spools, don&#39;t sew with them! My grandmother was a horder of the first degree and I inherited garbage bags full of sewing notions, yarn and thread. Everything I tried sewing with these threads has come apart, the vintage cottons and rayons just disintegrate.

  39. says

    LOVE the vintage supplies. I have lots of them, too — from MY grandmother. I display them in an old wicker basket. I like that some of them still have the original price tag.<br /><br />My grandmother did a lot of tatting in her time, and I have a whole collection of hankies on which she tatted around the edges.

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