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My sewing box - a more personal blog

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Hello dear Sparkfriends,

This big wooden box moved into my apartment a few weeks ago. But it had always been there in my memories as a child and teenager.

It used to belong to my grandmother...

She was an amazing amateur sewer (she sew my mother's wedding dress), who also made her own hats and all kinds of embroideries, tapestries, etc. Her box is packed with sewing 'things' like lots of threads, beautiful old very fine needles and lots (LOTS!) of buttons...

There are 3 levels.

There are several boxes that, in the 50s, used to contain sore throat tablets. They are full of threads or buttons.

I am not sure but maybe this sewing box belonged to my great grandmother before my grandmother (it looks like it is from the 19th century, and my grandmother was born in 1911)...

In any case, my mother grew up with this box, and I did too as my mother used it after my grandmother (this is a picture of my mother and I last August).

When my mother's Alzheimer's badly deteriorated, a couple of months ago, and my father said he couldn't care for her anymore, we had to choose a nursing home for her. I mentioned worry and tears on several occasions in my blogs these last few months, because it was (and still is) heartbreaking. I know several of you will know what I mean, and I am very sorry you have to experience this as well.

I cried when I first opened the box and found these. I don't know if these look the same where you live, but in France you sew these on clothes for children going to summer camp for example (you can see mine!) or for old people going to a nursing home. 'Astolfi' was the name of my mother's mother (who also had Alzheimer's). Underneath, there are the ones of my two other grandparents. And 'BB' was my great aunt, Berthe. My mother really kept everything!

It is partly because of this box that I decided to go back to sewing and joined a sewing club in September (I found this picture of a sewing club on the Internet but it could be mine, except that our room is huge and there are about 10 of us!).
I used to sew a little with my mother as a teenager, but apart from making a couple of curtains, I hadn't for years.

The picture above is of my first completed project! I finished it a few days ago (and as you can tell, I am very proud!) I know several of you already saw it on my page, but I couldn't resist showing you again!!! Now I am about to start sewing a laptop case in this Liberty fabric, with a mauve lining:

Apparently, I am crazy to have chosen one with a zip, but nothing can scare me! ;-) Here is the pattern in case you are interested:

Why do I tell you about all these? Because my aim when I joined SP was: 'Towards a lighter life'. And SP definitely has helped me and is helping me reach that goal! Joining a sewing club was a great idea, because it is a lot of fun and it helps me think about my mother and grandmother in a positive light rather than focus on Alzheimer's all the time.

Two weeks ago, when I reached the place where I had gone hiking, I realized I had forgotten my hiking book! Ugh. So I went to a sewing fair in the area and, although nothing can replace hiking for me, it was lovely...

One of the stands there sold old sewing material (which cost a fortune!).

There was even the needles set that used to be my grandmother's, in a basket of roses (on the right).

Of course I thought of my sewing box then, and when I went home I opened it and looked at it even more carefully. There are so many beautiful things! Let me end with these pretty sights...

I hope you didn't mind that today's blog was more personal than usual, and wasn't about hiking for once!
Let's close the box for now...

Thank you for reading! emoticon
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love personal blogs like this.... love to see and hear about my friends' lives, especially those that live in other countries. A lot of fun!
    320 days ago
    964 days ago
    I too have some of my grandmother's sewing things - your picture of the meters of lace edging reminded me of her tatting.
    1540 days ago
    Thank you so much for this blog! I always love reading about your hikes but this one really touched my heart. My Mother always had a sewing project going. She was very good and creative. She would sing while her machine was at work. Although my Mother died in 2001 I still feel very close to her when going through her button box. I used to sit in her sewing room with her and play with the buttons - some of which were passed down from my Great Grandmother.
    I am sorry to hear of your Mother's illness. It must be very difficult for you and your family. The women in your family are all lovely. How wonderful to have such photos.
    Your blouse is very becoming! Enjoy your sewing group!
    1578 days ago
    I still have some name tags that my mother purchased when I went off to the Ecole de Neige as an 8 year old.
    1578 days ago
    What a treasure in so many ways. My grandmother was a wonderful seamstress, she never needed a pattern...and I still have one of her sewing baskets but it is much the worse for wear and not worthy to be photographed, yet somehow I cannot throw it away.
    It's precious to remember and treasure these things. Small things from the past... emoticon
    1580 days ago
    Brought a tear to my eye as I read this. You are so lucky to have those memories. I remember a sewing box....was my grandmother-in-laws. She used to keep a little thing from each child or great grandchild, etc. in hers. Each held a special memory for her. She shared the little stories with me one day before she passed away. Don't think anybody else ever cared to learn the value of that sewing box.... For somebody not knowing would have questioned that little matchbox car with no wheel, or the soldier that had been chewed.... lovely memories. Thanks for sharing.
    1584 days ago
    Beautiful post! Thank you
    1585 days ago
    I too have my great grandmother's sewing box. She was alive until I was 17. I was very lucky to have her in my life. I love looking at that old box!!!!!!
    1585 days ago
    I have both of my grandmothers sewing boxes. They are made of 1970 's plastic but do contain treasures similar to your mother's. I'm not very good at sewing but wish I was. Yesterday I did sew a curtain for my granddaughters kitchen her Mommy & Daddy are making her. Kind of felt emotional while doing it. This was the first time in 5 years or so my 1976 or so Brother sewing machine was out of its case. emoticon I was thinking....I should do this more often. That would be create; NOT mend.
    1586 days ago
    Wow, Claire, there's so much great stuff in this blog and I'm sorry I'm coming to it so late. I love your old sewing box--my mother was a big sewer when I was younger and make many of my clothes as a child, so lots of the things you've shown are very familiar to me. These are precious family memories and I think it's great that you've rekindled that tradition. I just LOVE the shirt you've made for yourself. I would have thought you were a pro! Thanks so much for sharing these personal mementos with us.
    1586 days ago
    What a wonderful family treasure you have inherited! I am so glad you decided to sew again and continue your family's legacy.
    1588 days ago
  • RENATA144
    Beauty runs in your Family !
    I Love to sew too !
    You are a wonderful artist ! emoticon emoticon
    1591 days ago
  • DOODIE59
    O that was lovely -- almost everyone had a sewing kit when we were younger. I used to really enjoying sewing when my children were small -- it is such a creative outlet. Very satisfying. It is a very positive outlet of expression ... I hope you will find it so!
    Have fun sewing;)
    1592 days ago
    THis is a beautiful blog, thanks so much for sharing .
    1592 days ago
    Another wonderful blog. I should be "doing" but I am just not in a good place today and I decided to go back and read some of your past blogs. They are a joy to read. I especially loved this more "personal" one. It really touched me. My mother also has Alzheimers so I understand what you had to deal with putting your mom in a home. I also understand this awful feeling of "I've lost my mom" yet she's not gone. It will be like having to loose her twice. I don't have a lovely old sewing box, but all sorts of things bring back memories. Picking berries in the wild makes me feel connected to my ancestors who were pioneers. Looking for a recipe and seeing one in my mother's handwriting has become so special and touching for me. Making a family recipe, the smells, the tastes, these also bring back treasured times and things. Thank you so much for allowing us into your world for a bit.
    1592 days ago
    1592 days ago
    Lovely blog. A box full of treasures, lovely memories. Thank you for sharing, this was special emoticon

    I also have a sewing chest after my mothe rit is a box with a hinged lid and standing on 4 legs it is painted in the old style as bridal chests used to be painted.
    1593 days ago
    What a lovely treasure being passed down to you and a wonderful way to honor and remember your grandmother and mother.

    Thanks for sharing this heartfelt blog.
    1593 days ago
    What a treasure Claire thank you for sharing. I to know about Alzheimer's as my 2 Aunts ( my Dads sisters ) had it also. My Mom has things from the past that I open up & look at. I love the smell of some of the things I go through also.
    1593 days ago
    Thanks for sharing your memories of sewing in your family. Really wonderful.
    1593 days ago
    Thanks for sharing! Can you order those fabric labels w/your initials online? I would love to sew them in my children's clothes! Thanks for the inspirational blog emoticon
    1593 days ago
    1593 days ago
    Hi Claire........
    What a beautiful blog!!!!! Reading it brought back so many memories of my own Grandmother. She was very little.......only 4'11" tall and the only machine I remember her sewing on, was a treadle machine. She not only sewed, but also tailored and made beautiful coats and suit jackets for my grandfather. Imagine the control it took to run that machine accurately. She, too, had a magic sewing box filled with treasures. I remember going through it layer by layer as a child and sorting her thread according to color. Her sewing influence was not lost on me. I went on to be a Family and Consumer Education teacher and one of my classes was Fashion and Clothing Construction and the advanced class after completing this one was a Tailoring Class. I am retired now, but still enjoy making quilts and clothing for my Grand-daughters. It was fun going down memory lane. emoticon
    1596 days ago
    Thank you for writing this moving and personal blog. I loved reading about the memories of your mom sewing, and seeing the treasures that your mom and grandmother collected in the sewing box. My mom really did not enjoy sewing -- but I remember how much I loved it when she sewed princess gowns as Halloween costumes for my sister and me; it felt really special. I am so sorry your mom has Alzheimer's; it is tough but it I am glad she is in a place where she can get the care that she needs.

    I LOVED your new gown and profile photo! It is great that you have joined a sewing group.
    Hugs from
    1598 days ago
    1598 days ago
    I always enjoy your hiking blogs but this was a nice change of pace too. I'm sorry your mom has Alzheimers, that must be very tough. I like the picture of your family members. I hope you have a great week,

    1598 days ago
    Dear Claire,
    What a pleasure it was to read and view your blog today! I have a vintage sewing box also, although I do not sew, per se. I craft, and I hunt for vintage buttons at yard sales and flea markets. I make pins (jewelry) out of vintage mother of pearl buttons, and Christmas ornaments out of other buttons. I have very fond memories of my grandmother's button tin. She sewed using a treadle machine! It's a good thing you are doing taking up sewing in honor of your mother, grandmother, and great-grandma-ma. I love the fabric you've chosen for your ereader cover - so pretty! Thank you for sharing this with us!
    1598 days ago
    Un merveilleux blog Claire, rempli de si touchants souvenirs! Comme j'aime cette boite et tous les accessoires de mercerie! Tout ce qu'elle contient est si précieux. C'est une excellente idée de vous êtes inscrite à un club de couture, et je vois que vous avez hérité du don familial! Bravo! Et je pense à vous car je me doute combien la maladie de votre mère vous brise le coeur. emoticon
    1598 days ago
  • HOLLYM48
    What a beautiful sewing box and a beautiful tribute to your mother, grandmother and even great grandmother. There is nothing more special than something handed down for several generations and the special little trinkets inside of that special little sewing box. It is so much more than just a box that hold buttons and thread, it is a box that holds love and special memories.
    Thanks for sharing that special box with us and the wonderful treasures within!
    I loved the fabric that you chose for the next project and I hope it is just the start of many many more happy projects for you!
    Hugs from Athens!
    1599 days ago
    I love to sew also. Did a lot when I was younger, but when I was working full time, I gave it up. Now that I am almost retired I got a new sewing machine that also does machine embroidery. I love playing with it. I have dug out fabric that I saved many years ago and am planning to make a few things again. I also want to do some quilting. My mother loved to make quilts. Your box is full of memories~enjoy.
    1599 days ago
    Thanks so much for this blog. My mother was a seamstress working in a maternity hospital and she made the babies night gowns. She worked right through the war years and many of the people were so poor they had no layettes or any money for kids clothes. My mother was a skilled needlewoman and she walked about with crochet in her apron pocket]. On her break she would crochet booties and hats and baby jackets and she gave them away.
    We were poor so the matron always gave her the yarn. MUM taught me to sew. I have 7 sewing machines. I have made wedding dresses but my real skill is alterations. I had a good business till I injured my back. My clients were my friends but I had to give it up in order to be able to recuperate. I still love to sew but still I love to make clothing fit right.
    I am so happy you are doing this. I am going to give sewing lessons this winter to a lady who wants to sew. It will keep me happy. HUGS Pat in Maine.
    1599 days ago
    An absolutely lovely way to remember. To have such great memories of your Mama and Grandmother tucked away in a beautiful box. I am glad that you have taken out these treasures and are now going to classes. Love the top you made.
    1599 days ago
    Love the dress you sewed; it's very becoming on you and the color is perfect for this time of year. As always the images you presented are stunning, so alive and reveal the spirit that is in you. Thanks for this personal journey.
    1599 days ago
  • KLONG8
    You have such a nice way of taking us on a journey with you. I love the box, your memories and am glad that you have such a precious treasure. Thanks for sharing.
    1599 days ago
    What a priceless treasure to cherish! And with so many beautiful things in it. All these buttons, and laces and threads of all colors really make someone wanting to start sewing lessons! And it's a great way to connect with your past, too, and with your mother now that you both need it so much. Maybe you could sew something for her,too. I'm sure she would love it.
    You look a lot like your grandmother, Claire! And she was such a beautiful woman!
    I strongly believe that everything in life happens for a reason. There are things that we choose to do at certain moments for reasons we can't really comprehend until much later. I'm sure your sewing club has so much to give you. Enjoy it and good luck with your new project! (Which looks great!)
    1600 days ago
    Claire, what a beautiful box and a beautiful blog! emoticon Thank you for sharing your life and your memories.. your mother and grandmother are beautiful! I do understand some of what you are going through and my heart is with you, dear friend. Enjoy every moment you can and create whatever memories you can... make the most. God bless you! emoticon emoticon Karen
    1600 days ago
  • JACKIE542
    So nice Clair, I also have my mothers sewing box, and her sewing machine. It still works too. I love looking at all the sewing things she taught me how to use. Love to look at the buttons. I have memories of all the coats and outfits those buttons came from.
    You look beautiful in the blouse you made, I would be proud too.
    I do know what you are going through with your mother, we had to do the same for mine. Please take good care. emoticon Jackie
    1600 days ago
    Puis que j'ai appris à coudre de maman, j'en suis ravi. Ta boite et magnifique. Les souvenirs que tu retrouve la dans seront toujours avec toi. Je suis triste que toi aussi tu dois voir les changements que Alzheimers apporte a ta maman, ma tante l'avait.
    J'ai beaucoup aimé ce petits reflexions du passer.
    Bisous de ton amie
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1600 days ago
    What a delightful treasure - thank you for allowing us to look over your shoulder.

    I have my great-grandmothers button box that I remember playing with as a child - sifting through to find the "fancy" buttons was something I always had to do when I visited her.
    1600 days ago
  • GEORGE815
    The old ways are the best ways.
    1600 days ago
  • MARYBETH4884
    Thank you for sharing! These women and the memories in this box helped shape who you are today. Memories make us family and you will have them forever. Have fun with you treasures!
    1600 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    Truly a family heirloom! What a treasure! I have almost nothing from my fractured family tree and would love something like this! Thanks for sharing the photos of these women in your family - you come by your looks honestly! Beautiful eyes! I can almost smell the old trims and fabric and feel the buttons. My grandmother had one of the very first Singer sewing machines and my mother sewed everything I wore for years.

    I love that you have turned this treasure into something positive. Alzheimers is such a painful disease in so many ways.
    1600 days ago
    what lovely memories to have! a very real treasure! I to have a large tin of buttons..... I remember my grandmother had a cigar box of buttons .... as buttons were "expensive" they saved them all from discarded clothes.... why throw away
    something not broken and that you might use again....... consequently I have some VERY old vintage buttons ....they bring back memories. indulge yourself in the memories and let them warm your heart.
    1600 days ago
    You write so beautifully! I enjoyed this so much as it brought me so many wonderful memories! What a treasure you have with that beautiful, inside and out, sewing box!

    I do know about the heartaches of a loved one having Alzheimer's as my great-uncle, who is 92 and I see to has it. I am fortunate that he is always happy and there are times that it is a blessing he cannot remember. He sold thread for a living and after he retired he started his own company once again being a rep for different sewing products. I have so many items like you have in your sewing box, I need a special sewing box to have his things in.

    Once again I saved your blog to read when I had time to savor it as I always know that is what I will want to do.

    I loved you pictures of you, your mother and grandmother. I think you really look like your grandmother but of course you three are beautiful and I know they are beautiful on the inside just like you!

    I am sorry that you have to have the heartache of dealing with Alzheimer's but I always tell myself that maybe it could be worse and I am so thankful I had all the years with them that they did not have this disease. I also think that if they have some type of dementia it most of the time means you have had more years to enjoy and learn from them.

    Sorry to be so long with my comment.

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

    1601 days ago
    J'aime bien ce blog et ton haut en tissu rose. Cela te va! Merci aussi pour partager tes sentiments et souvenirs. Tu vas coudre la fermeture éclair sans problème et je pense que c'est meilleur que les boutons pour un couvercle comme ça.

    à bientôt! emoticon
    1601 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/3/2013 9:23:10 AM
    You are an amazing person. You always seem to find smiles where there are also tears. emoticon
    1601 days ago
    a really beautiful blog, Claire -- and also a beautiful blouse!
    1601 days ago
    What a truly lovely post. It's so nice to "meet" the women in your family. I really love the photos of the sewing box and its contents. I am always amazed at your eye for beauty.
    1601 days ago
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