top of page
  • Writer's pictureJulie S.

What’s in that sewing bag?

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

I often get asked to show the contents of this thrift store purse that I turned into my sewing bag. I love to hand it, with no explanation, to a young girl so she can rummage through it. You can often spot a future Saint Martha’s Guild apprentice this way.

A number of years ago my household mending went from a sadly neglected chore, to one of my happy pastimes. I had a mending conversion of sorts. It was an article about sewing chatelaines that did it. This drudgery of hole mending, seam repairing, alteration making – this was work that earlier generations considered a pleasant and beautiful activity. Their tools reflected this attitude.

Sorry about this, but take a look at Ebay for sewing chatelaines. You can’t tell me that this stitching was a hated chore. Those lovely women gracefully settled themselves in a comfortable chair by a sunny window and peacefully stitched things right. And the accoutrements of this work were beautiful.

My stuff wasn’t beautiful. The needles were in a plastic circle thing with a little hole that sometimes shifted to dump them all out. There was a big fat tomato with a little strawberry thing that fell off at some point and rolled around the bottom of my cardboard box. Tangled pink, orange and brown thread had unspooled and made a mess of things. The straight pins probably came out of my husband's shirt packaging - and they were wicked little things that poked holes in your fingers. Anyway, you get the picture. My darling husband, gifted me with funds to trick out my sewing kit. It was weird how mending instantly became a lovely interlude.

Check out Elizabeth’s Vintage Notions. It’s a division of Dritz. They make reproductions of sewing notions from the Victorian era. They’re not nearly as lovely as the silver antiques but they’re affordable and pretty.

needle case - holds all but the longest needles

Pin cushion

Tape Measure

Floss winder

Spool Holder

Bodkins - I lost my large one. Sigh.

I snagged an Our Lady of Fatima thimble on Ebay.


Beeswax is a must have item. And you won't like the disks stuck in that round plastic thing with the slots that you get from the craft store. Or at least not nearly as much as the real deal like this. Wrap it up so it doesn’t dry out as much. I have to go look up the cool photo of the chunk of wax from the Royal School of Needlework. Everyone there uses it. It's a work of art..

safety pin comparison
Throw away the ones on the left.

*Warning, rant ahead.* I carry safety pins, pinned through the lining inside my bag. You would think that manufacturers might have consulted with actual sewing people before they removed half of the metal from our safety pins. The new ones (several different brands) are only good for pinning a note to a repaired cassock. It feels like war-time rationing. Or bean counters gone bad.

At church people know that I’m likely to have my sewing kit, so they come to me when their wardrobes are malfunctioning. I live in fear that one of these fake safety pins is going to pop open and stab someone in the middle of Mass. Please, can we have our old pins back?!

Some of Sister Mildred’s Tools

And since we’re showing tools, look at Sister Mildred's. We found these in the old drawers of her treadle Singer (which we delightedly dusted off, oiled up and put back to work). I love her pliers.

328 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page