New To Me Sewing Tools

This Labor Day weekend we ventured south to Salamanca where one of the larger antique malls is literally an old mall. It really is almost the entirety of the mall with the exception of a hardware store and a little cafe, an essential for those shopping the whole day. We have never made it through the whole place. This time we fell short by a row and three rooms. One of these times we really aught to work through in the other direction.

I did a good bit of window shopping; the flow blue and Breyer horses catching my eye. I had been hoping to find textiles with certain ones in mind. They were lacking in that area. I do understand that with the foot traffic this place gets, that can be dangerous for the textiles. But, I was still hopeful.  I am kicking myself for not grabbing a particular horse. I was too distracted deciding on the bundle of sewing tools I did end up purchasing.

When purchases come in bundles, I tend to put more weight than necessary into the parts I don’t want. I languish over “What am I to do with these bits?” Well, in this case, I am cleaning them up and going to put them up on Etsy. (That will be soonish and include some metal crochet hooks, bodkins, what I think are leather/saddle needles, shoe/button hooks)

What I did buy is to fill my demonstration sewing case.


The bundle was a bag full of assorted sewing tools. As it was sealed, I wasn’t able to feel each of the pieces I hoped were bone rather than celluloid. Once we were out to the car, I was pleased to find each of the pieces I was eyeing were indeed bone.

From the top down: Two crochet hooks. A long stiletto that matches the second crochet hook. A medium stiletto. A tbd that matches the above stiletto. A bodkin.

If you are asking how to tell the difference between bone and celluloid, I look at a few things. Bone tends to weigh more than celluloid. That top crochet hook is actually pretty heavy for its size. It is actually heavier than other bone pieces I’ve held of the same size. The texture is also different. Celluloid tends to be very smooth. Bone will be pitted and grooved. (horn is a little less so in my experience.)  The way the bone is turned or carved is not as uniform as a molded celluloid piece. Many celluloid pieces seem to be a bit translucent too. If you have a light app on your phone or a small flashlight, hold that up behind it.  Celluloid will let some of the light through.

IMG_7770I need to look into what this piece is. If it was flat, I would think it was a seam presser. If the end was sharp, I would think it would have been used to pull stitches.  As it is curved, I am tempted to think it is it a toiletry tool rather than a sewing tool. But, I didn’t think toiletry/manicure tools were done in bone. The curve fits the curve of my nails nicely. It could also have been used to work one material into another. I will have to text it to see if it works for stuffing wool into channels.


Despite all my points on telling the difference between bone and celluloid above, I have not decided which this little needle case is. It has more weight and substance than celluloid. Yet, it is very smooth and has that screw on top. It has a teeny, hairline crack in the top where I think someone tried to screw it on too tight.

IMG_7782This is incomplete. It would have been the center of a larger piece. It was turned on a lathe based on the spirally carving marks. There is a dark brown thread around the middle. The bottom would also have had thread. I am not sure if the top would have or not.


This nifty pencil nub was a delight to find. I have to look up its dating. I just like that someone used it right down to the end and saved it. The white would have nicely marked dark wool or silk.

IMG_7777This needle box is celluloid. It is one of the pieces that will be looking for a new home. But, I thought it would be nice to share it because it is cute and an example of celluloid. This is particularly thin and delicate for the material. This is a celluloid stiletto I picked up a couple weeks back.Celluloid stilleto Normally, I wouldn’t include a celluloid piece. But, this is such a pretty color and it shows the swirls of the synthetic material inside.

Published in: on September 15, 2015 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What a nice find. Your unknown tool, could it be a point turner?

  2. I’m thinking the mystery tool is a darning tool for glove finger tips as it’s curved like the egg used for socks. Gloves are forever wearing out at the tips and thrifty ladies would likely repair knitted or cloth gloves used for everyday. Tho the point is a puzzle…

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