Sunday, 19 August 2018

People who live in glass houses . . .

As part of my studies I've just finished reading Second-Hand Cultures about, unsurprisingly, how second-hand goods fit into consumer culture. In one section, a woman with a love of the 1960s explained how as well as clothes and homeware she also collected items such as 1960s plasticine and sellotape.

I thought that was a bit extreme, until I spotted some safety pins lying on the table, bought in a collection of dress patterns and related sewing items earlier in the week. I could have just unpinned them from the card and put them with the rest of my safety pins (having once been wardrobe mistress to a dance troupe, I always have a lot of safety pins around - old habits die hard!), but I liked the card itself.

So here, by way of 'fessing up, is some of the vintage haberdashery I've acquired over the years. In my defence, it is there to be used. Old snaps and hooks and eyes come in a variety of sizes which just aren't available now, and are useful for things like dress plackets. Vintage bias binding feels softer and much more pleasant than the modern variety.

Other things are simply more attractive, such as the Dorcas pin tin with its black paper lining. Admittedly it is nigh-on impossible to open, but at least there is no chance of dropping it and all the pins falling out. The other pins are from my grandmother's workbox, so almost 100 years old and still rust-free. Several of the bias binding packets advertise 'boil-proof' dyes, from days when laundry practices didn't involve washing at 30 degrees. Some of the Newey hook and eye packets (but not, oddly, the snaps) advertise their royal appointment - I'm quite taken with the idea of Queen Mary doing a bit of mending in her spare time!

The safety pins which prompted this post

The 'Newey' logo through the ages, and other brands

So many brands and widths of bias binding

More Newey products


  1. I too prefer vintage notions, and the reason why vintage bias is nicer feeling is that it has a higher cotton content. The older stuff is 100% cotton! One caveat, however, is that sometimes vintage bias binding can be brittle, as I found out last year. I made two dresses (one for me and one for a friend) using some black vintage bias in my stash that was 100% cotton, so probably from the late 1940s. It was fine for a few washes and then it started to disintegrate! Oy. I had to replace it on both dresses. I still use vintage, but I make sure that it feels strong before I use it.

    1. Thank you Juliana, that explains why the binding available now always feels stupidly stiff, even after I've washed it. I'll bear your warning in mind.