> ~ Insights by SewCalGal ~

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Old Quilting Tools



While doing some Spring Cleaning in my sewing room, I began to ponder what is the oldest sewing tool that I have. 

I concluded that my sterling silver stiletto may be the oldest tool in my sewing room. 

This tool certainly has been a quilting tool that has earned its value, over the years.  I believe I splurged and purchased this tool in 1985, while taking an hand applique class for Baltimore style quilts.  Over the years, I've used this tool for applique (hand and machine), as well as guiding fabric into my sewing machine feeddogs.  Clearly, for the price, this tool has certainly earned a place in my sewing room.  And, it is a type of tool that I'd definitely recommend to others
While I do use bamboo and other stilettos, my treasured silver stiletto is always my favorite and has earned a sweet spot in my heart.

If you do not have a stiletto in your sewing room, but are thinking about getting one, I'd advise against any that have plastic as they do not work well when you want to use a stiletto to pin fabric that you need to press with a hot iron.

For those that may want to get their own stiletto, I spotted two opportunities that you may want to check out:


















I am curious....have you ever used a stiletto? And, what is the oldest tool you have in your sewing room?

35 comments:

Jen said...

I don't have ANY old tools.... my mom won't let go of anything of hers! So I've had to invest in all my own! (Which I don't mind so terribly!) I tried to use stiletto a few times - but found that it was too sharp... so now I use a bamboo skewer - like you'd use for making fruit skewers - they're cheap and flexible!

Quilterbell said...

I have never used an stiletto, but I have seen Eleanor Burns using it quite a lot!. I was always curious about them. I do not really have an old tool as I am reaqlly new at sewing, so I will have to wait a bit I suppose!!!, ja,ja

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I have a real porcupine quill that I use as a stiletto.(spur sanded off end) I have a few old wood bobbins and old 'fireplace' iron from my great grans things - put they are decor.

Razzle Dazzle Quilter said...

Hi there
Yes I do use a stiletto , can hardly sew without one. I have two very nice vintage ones with ivory handles. They are my favorites, I also use a modern Clover one
Cheers
Linda

Nina Lise@Mrs Moen said...

Hi Darlene! I do think I have a stiletto somewhere, so I will have a look in my tool box and try it out some more. The first tool I ever bought was a rotary cutter with a mat and ruler. I still use the mat and ruler, but the cutter is retired to crafting projects. It still is in my sewing room though.)

kc said...

Maybe I'm missing something, but I always just use the pointy tip of my seam ripper. Sometimes I use the pointy tip of my index finger instead, but that's usually not intentional and is usually followed by creative use of language.

Barb said...

My stileto is my finger (ouch)....I do have one but can never find it when I need it. Does that sound familiar? I am always looking for stuff.

Quilter Kathy said...

Yep...I have an old steel one that I use for larger blocks, and I use wooden skewers for tiny blocks just in case I sew over it :)

Heather said...

I have the brass version of your stiletto and love it. I have tried other types (when I can't quickly locate the brass one) and they just aren't the same. I have so many old tools that I inherited from my Aunt and Mother but I really don't use them except the old needles from probably the 1940's. No they haven't rusted and work great for basic hand sewing. I love the old pincushions, needlecases and thimbles and enjoy them on display in my sewing room. A sweet reminder of family!

Cecelia said...

I have a brass one that I have had for years & I use it to guide my fabrics & I love it! The oldest tool I have is my gold stork scissors.

IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

I think I'm the oldest "tool" in my sewing room....LOL. I actually have some vintage notions I've collected but don't use that often. My Hot Harriet cloth cord iron is probably the oldest notion that I use often. I use it in my sewing area on the first floor. A girl needs a few sewing stations ya know.

Smiles,
Kelly

Larissa said...

Lol! When you first mentioned a 'stiletto', my immediate thought was of the shoe version!!! Hehe! I still can't believe I used to wear them! (Haven't done since I was pregnant, but I used to wear them for 8 hour shifts, standing on my feet at a checkout all day!!! ... And be fine at the end of the day!!!!)
Since I've only really started sewing seriously the last year or so (beginning of last year), all my oldest (personal) tools were bought early that year ... pins, rotary cutter, cutting board ... everything!! Before that, I was using all my mother's things ... but then, I have been the only one that has used the sewing machine for anything more than fixing a few hems a year for the last 5/6!!! ... The oldest 'tool' I currently use for my sewing would then have to be my mum's sewing machine ... a Bernina aurora 430 which she had me choose with her (well, for her really) as she knew that I would be using it WAY more than she ever will any more! ... Loving it though!!! It's only 4/5 years old, so still relatively new, and it's only needed to be oiled 2 or 3 times in that period, so she has done most of her 'miles' in the last year, lol! ... Thanks for suggesting the 'stiletto' ... will definitely look into it!

Anne said...

I have a brass version of your stiletto, that I bought from Katie Pasquini Masopust five years ago, and I use it all the time. Here's a link to her web-site.

http://www.katiepm.com/supplies.html

Nancy said...

I think the oldest tool in my sewing room would be Me.
Love your stiletto.

Snoodles said...

The only thing older than me in my sewing room would be my hubby's grandmom's machine....a Singer knockoff built in Japan in the early 50's. I need to get it tuned up and use it for piecing!
Love the stiletto - maybe I need to add that to my Christmas list!

Missy Shay said...

I have never even heard of a stilleto until this post. I have some vintage sewing machine attachments from the early 1900s and a Franklin Vibrating shuttle treadle sewing machine from the 20s and an electric White Sewing machine from the late 20s.

Laceflower said...

I have a beautiful stiletto with a lovely wooden carved handle and it lives on top of my machine because I use it all the time. The stiletto is one of the most used tools in my studio. I've got some really old stuff in my studio as I've been sewing for 5 decades, perhaps my gran's tiny crochet hooks for pulling serger ends back thru the stitches to secure the end is the oldest thing. Second oldest would probably be my Vogue sewing book, great reference source, that my mother gave me in my early 20s.

Kim said...

I have that very brass stiletto...love it and keep it on a ribbon attached to my sewing machine.
My oldest thing ( besides me?)......probably my Bernina 1030.......what a workhorse.

Happy Sewing

paulette said...

I have a stiletto that I bought at the $1 store...WHY didn't I buy MORE?? I cannot sew without it!! It has a wooden end that I 'smoke' when I don't use it!! (It is all chewed up!) My oldest tool is a thimble that I found in my mom's stuff...use it all the time!
P

wackywoman said...

Yes, I use a wooden stiletto and love it. My oldest tool is a seam ripper that still has my maiden name(using the old Dyno Label Maker)on it. I had this in Junior High. Oh my goodness.

Quiltingranny said...

I am not sure what you use a stiletto for. The oldest tool in my box? My original seam ripper!

quiltfool said...

I use my stilleto all the time. It is a go-to tool, but when I introduced it in my quilting class the other day, blank stares. I have one for every machine, made out of all kinds of material, but all with steel points. I have a ton of vintage tools in my sewing. I guess my oldest is my 1912 Singer Treadle. There might be one or two older items, but that's the one that comes to mind. Lane

MC said...

I don't have a stiletto, but now I want one. My oldest tools are my grandmother's old needles, knitting needles and crochets.

Cindy Brick said...

Why is it that every time I look at the stiletto photo, I hear "you'll shoot your eye out..." I would have tripped and put it through an eyeball, probably! (But then again, seam rippers and I generally leave each other alone, too.)

Thank you so much for mentioning my Stars All Around quilt book giveaway -- it's much appreciated!

Latest post: Repurposing Gone Good
http://cindybrick.blogspot.com/2012/04/repurposing-gone-good.html

Sandi said...

My oldest sewing tool would me my toy Singer Sewing machine that I'm proud to say I'm the original owner of. I probably got it around 1960. I have several vintage Singer sewing machines including a featherweight that predates my toy one.

Not a sewing item, but from my great grandmother I have several sets of tortise shell sock knitting needles that my aunt passed along to me. A very special keepsake. I have a silver version of your brass stiletto along with some new metal ones. A favourite tool is the bamboo "forks" for hors dherves, great to help you turn over an edge when using starch to prep your applique.

Char said...

Yes I do have a stiletto. I have one with a wooden handle. I also have 2 Porcupine quills that I use for the same purpose. My oldest tool is a tape measure my dad put in my Christmas stocking in 1970!

Anonymous said...

I use a stiletto all the time.....great for matching seams, holding the fabric in place til the needle inserts right where you want it, glueing the binding and holding fabric with the stiletto so I don't burn my fingers with the iron, and on and on! Except, I'm really cheap and have never purchased an "official" one. I buy cheap chopsticks and just sharpen them in my pencil sharpener. Viola! I have lots of them at all my stations in my studio...no kidding...I use them all the time. Oldest thing in my studio? Me!!! Connie in California

Nancy H. said...

Yes, I use my stiletto all the time. It is sterling and has an ornate handle and came from my Aunt's (born 1909) house. I don't know if it belonged to her, my grandmother, or great grandmother because they all lived in that house, but it is very old.

My oldest tool is my great, great grandmother's thimble that was passed down through the family to me. It has her name and the year 1833 engraved on it. It is too small for my thimble finger but I cherish it.

Barb and Sharon said...

I have a 2 pointed tool that works like the stiletto. My oldest tool would have to be my Nana's needle case with needles and her name embossed on it and her darning tool. I also have a Singer Featherweight from my Nana and a hand crank old singer from my other Grandmother.

Barb@Witsend

Purl Buttons said...

I use a stiletto like Eleanor Burns taught me (via PBS). It is a brass one like yours. My oldest sewing/quilting tool is my husband's grandmother's thimble but I don't use it even though it fits. I like the edge around the newer styled ones. My oldest tool in my studio is a niddy-noddy probably from my great-great grandmother's time when they spun and died their own yarn.

╰☆╮ Barb ╰☆╮ said...

I had to laugh because I use a metal pick that came with a nut cracker set that my mom had way back in the early 1960's! I needed something one day to guide the fabric and after searching around the house, I came up with that. It is the handiest thing, and since I never crack walnuts or pecans any more, it's perfect!

Anonymous said...

The oldest thing in my sewing room is my collection of thread, I have over a hundred spools of molnlycke polyester thread from the 70s. I also have my original seem ripper from the 60s, used that quite often while learning to sew. My stiletto is bamboo, the metal was just too scary, a girl can hurt herself while operating heavy machinery.

Anonymous said...

The oldest thing in my sewing room is an ivory bodkin I inherited from my Grandmothers sewing basket.

I have a stilleto collection! Brass,bamboo,porcupine quill and steel. Once you get used to them they are very handy,

Anonymous said...

Yes, I've been using a stiletto for decades. I am thinking that I got it either in the late 70's or early 80's...when I was still sewing clothing and other items, but many, many years before I discovered quilting. My stiletto is a must have for keeping fabrics in place and guiding them under the presser foot and feeddogs. It's handle is plastic with rubber ridges, and the "business end" is steel. I love it!

My oldest tool, other than my stiletto, would be this antique wooden industrial spool/spindle. I use it to hold my binding on my upright spool peg on my machine to feed off the prepared binding as I sew it on, so that I don't have binding all over the place to get creased or tangled.

teachpany said...

I have a Dritz stiletto, with a large plastic handle, but metal tip. It's great and matches all of my other purple tools, lol. My oldest tool? I don't know. I've been sewing for over 40 years (started before I could walk, lol, jk). I have some old tools, but others have been replaced along the way. I also have vintage stuff from estates, and a sock darning ball from my grandmoter, as well as an antique iron from my other grandmother, and screwdrivers from their machines. It's fun to think of the history of them!