Monday, January 30, 2012

All Spooled Up

Here are some more vintage lovelies from Linda at Itsy Bits and Pieces.  She included these sweet wooden spools as a gift to me, and I love the way they look...thank you Linda!

I've never been much of a seamstress, but I do love old spools!

One time, back when I was in the 7th grade, and schools still taught home economics and shop...can you say 1970s?...I had to make a sundress.

My poor sundress was looking so wonky that my home ec teacher took pity on me and let me take it home so that I could fix it.  I think she knew that if I did take it home that my mother would likely take over and try and fix it.  She was a rather harsh teacher but based on how bad it was looking she was ok with a little parental intervention!

Though, with a little...ok a LOT of help from my mother, I was able to salvage it and I actually wore that dress for many years to come.  But that dress was the beginning and end of my sewing career for anything that required more than sewing a straight line.

I did lose my mind once when my children were little and I bought a sewing machine.  My thought process was that I could somehow channel my grandmother who could sew quite well and made many of our outfits when we were little.  I still remember the Alice in Wonderland shift dresses and matching triangle head scarves that my grandmother made for my older sister and me.  I loved that dress, but alas, I was never able to sew like she could.

So my love of old spools comes not from my own sewing memories, but from watching my mother and grandmother sew.  Pinning patterns onto pretty fabrics, cutting along the dotted lines, hunting for the perfect color thread to match, and then sewing pretty things for us to wear.

I wonder if anyone out there really still makes the majority of their clothing?  Somewhere along the line it became cheaper to buy clothes than to make them, or maybe it just became unfashionable to make them?!  Either way, sewing is a skill I admire and respect.  It takes a great deal of patience, an exacting nature, and a good deal of artistry.

What was the last thing you sewed?!  I truly can't even recall anything beyond reattaching a button...


  1. I can't sew to save my life. I even have trouble reattaching a button. Now Fred, on the other hand, is a wiz with his sewing machine. But since his parents owned a clothing shop in Verzenay France, where he grew up, he kinda of learned the business. So see, he had practice.
    Your Friend, m.

  2. I have several of the old spools that belonged to my grandmother and my mother. Well, I DID have them. I gave them to my daughter who has them in a huge glass cannister (along with others she has collected) on her mantle. It is fun to see them displayed and know that they are now 4th generation. xo Diana

  3. I have a whole basket of old spools. It's too bad that todays aren't worth saving.

  4. I knew you would make these look so beautiful...I love the graphics! I had to laugh at the sundress story...I remember making one, too. Mine was so sad that when I entered it in our county fair with my 4-H group...I got a white participation ribbon lol. Now I stick to making pillow shams and straight line stuff like that!

  5. Beautiful photos Kat. I can only sew straight lines too. My mom and grandma both sewed clothes and really whatever they wanted, I never picked up on that either, patterns confuse me. :)
    Have a wonderful day!

  6. My mom was a wonderful seamstress but not I. I also took the home economics class in Jr. High and chose to make a pair of lined slacks... with plaid fabric, so not only did I have to try to line up the plaids on the side seams, I also had to try to get the lining to fit properly which it never did. I just let my mom hold the award for the best seamstress in the family and I took up drinking and smoking and staying out too late instead. LOL

  7. I think the sewing gene is recessive. I sewed most of my girls' clothes when they were little ... made homecoming and prom dresses, and even cut down one of the school-issued cheerleader skirts when our eldest daughter was in high school. Nowadays, I spend my sewing time making dog collars for charity or things for the home. (I put the finishing touches on my latest creation yesterday afternoon.)

    It probably IS cheaper to buy clothes than to make them, if you want any sort of variety in your or your children's wardrobes. The price of patterns is totally astronomical, unless you're on the ball and get them on special sale days when they can be found for as little as a dollar. Fabric is pretty reasonable, thread is $2+ per spool ... it adds up quick.

  8. Kit, I remember those little wooden spools. We used to hammer little nails in the top and make a crocheted rope with bits of coloured wool.

  9. I SO remember Home it was yesterday. I chose to make a nightgown and I think it ended up with three armholes! I finally decided I was going to learn to sew the basics, 2 years ago, my own curtains and pillows and anything else that wasn't involved. I bought a basic sewing machine on sale and now the honest part...I never got past threading it, or trying to anyway! My saving grace is that I can sew pretty well by hand and like to embroider and do some samplers now and again.

    Your pictures turned out great. I am still fumbling along with my camera...actually I am amazed at what I am learning by looking at that photography series on Fridays. It is at least teaching me what each part of the camera can do.

    I want to give you a big thank you for the photo of the little bird I received the other day. It is beautiful and is going to look great next to the other one. I think I am going to put them right in my family room as a crowning touch {when it's done!}. I'm giving you a virtual hug!


  10. I recently sewed 12 large buttons on a comforter. It was a job but I did it and it was worth it in the end. I do a lot of hand sewing (selling vintage linens) and mending but I want nothing to do with a machine. The spools are beautifully photographed.

  11. My mom used to sew a lot of my clothes. That gene was not passed on to me. I was horrible on home ec. Could not sew worth a flip.

  12. My mother made most of clothes. I wasn't interested in learning until I had my own daughter. I taught myself to sew, made most of my daughter's clothes (until she became too cool) and taught sewing for children class. I sewed because of the love of giving my child an original. I have a collection of wooden spools I found in my grandmother's sewing machine. Sigh, too bad Home Ec. is no longer taught. Hugs!

  13. Love the old spools and I wish now that I had saved the empty ones my mom always used to let us play with. Thanks for the flashback to home ec in grade 7, I think circa 1978. Our project was a fairly simple collarless pullover blouse with no buttons. I attempted several cord pants and vests for my little nieces (now 14 and 17) but gave up on clothes sewing for the reasons you mentioned. But I do love to quilt and wish I had both more time and money for that. The most recent thing I sewed was my ruffled pillow slip and I used a king sheet to make my guest bedroom curtains. I also grew up watching my mom sew beautiful handcrafts. She struggled with patterns but was brilliant with her own creations (dolls, teddy bears, nativity figures.)

  14. Gorgeous shots, Kat!

    Okay, you know I'm gonna get all techie on you, which lens did you use to get these great shots?

  15. I have a theory that the sewing gene always skips a generation Kat, my mum couldn't sew for toffee, and it is my métier! I can't sew clothes for myself...I seem to have lost the ability to see myself clearly. I love sewing for children though. Smocking, embroidery, appliqué: just love it.

  16. Those images are fabulous Kat! They conjured up many memories for me too. I remember my first Home Ec project was a gingham checked apron, a sundress sounds much harder though. I do like sewing every once in a while, mostly something for the home, rarely anything to wear. xo ~Lili

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