Sewing then was not only a private craft but also a social one and like the work holders this would also have been an expensive and stylish, which would have no doubt been displayed by the person sewing very proudly when working in front of family or friends. It was designed for easy winding of cottons on to the rotating bobbin which is attached to the clamp that holds it securely to a table. Then there were a few thimbles and the V & A stated that decorated thimbles had been produced since at least the 1500's, which astounded me. They were often given to women as sentimental gifts as they symbolised female industriousness and virtue!!
There were these beautiful knitting needles and case of blued steel, silk, chamois and silver-gilt
C1840 -50. These particular needles were designed for knitting delicate lace, and were stored safely in the embroidered case. The blue effect on the needles was produced by heating the steel at high temperatures and allowed the knitter to mark the length of of her row of stitches. The elaborate case suggests that these needles were a prized possession and were taken very good care of.
There were a beautiful pair of scissors (top right of picture) of cut steel and they have initials of A.M C1700 and were probably Abner Morton a scissor maker of the time. The beautiful scissor were both decorative and functional and were used for fabric cutting. When the scroll work handle is closed to birds appear as their beaks meet. The blades resemble obelisk supported by two dogs standing either side of an urn. This design takes many of its elements from heraldry. Along side these were these shears with a case C1600. Shears were also made to cut through fabric. They are both gilded and inlaid with mother of pearl. They would have been part of a brides trousseau or collection of household goods, gathered in preparation of a marriage. Such expensive and attractive shears would have symbolised the high status of the bride and her family. Then there was a tray of these beautiful buttons made of cut steel C1840 -50. At this time is was seen that an accomplished seamstress to have the ability to embellish clothes to reflect modern fashions and showed of her skills as a needle woman. This could be achieved by adding or changing the trimmings.
This very beautiful sewing kit of velvet, steel, bone and mother of pearl is C1890. This portable
sewing kit demonstrates how sewing tools could follow the fashion of the day. Produced at the height of Art Nouveau period, both the heart shape and bright green colour were popular characteristics of this style. The shape of this sewing kit suggests sentimental and romantic associations and was possibly a gift from a loved one.
Look at the bone handled tools in the case. This would have been a very expensive gift in its day.
The next piece is a sewing manual of paper and with textile inserts 1838. The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor published this manual in 1838 y to instruct charity schoolgirls in basic needlework and knitting skills. The book would have been used been used by a teacher, rather than the pupils themselves. Poor women and girls were expected to support themselves through sewing, often for very long hours and very poor wages.
Then in the very middle of this glass case was this Sewing Machine made in London and is of Cast Iron and Laquer C1875 - 80 and made by E. Ward. This is one of the first patented sewing machines. It has an elevated shelf to support the fabric. Such machines were marketed as essential and easy to use accessories for the organised housewife. An expensive machine like this would have taken pride of place in a middle class drawing room. It is decorated with a fashionable technique of its time called 'Japanning' - a type of painted lacquer .....
These stitchery items were beautiful under the lights and proudly put in a glass case. It was a little tricky to take photos but I hope that I managed fairly well for you all to look at.
Then it was time to go to the cafe and get a lovely cup of coffee and a scone ( well it had to be done!) The ceilings and windows along with the decoration in there was so beautiful I had to show you a little bit of it...
They have these massive balls of twinkling lights on this very impressive ceiling and the stain glass windows are stunning.
One of the things I learnt about the restaurant and cafe is that originally it had different first and second class menus, and a third class service for 'mechanics and all workmen employed at the Museum Buildings and even for the humble working class visitors'. in its day.. so my guess was I was sitting in the first class section!!!
They have a great gift and book shop inside the V & A and I wandered happily around for several hours.
I hope that you have enjoyed this little tour and tomorrow although I do not do a blog I will be announcing the winner of the competition so please come back and see if it is you, if you took part.
Have a great day and as always Happy Stitching!