Friday, 6 October 2017

Like Watching Paint Dry

I mentioned on Monday (HERE) that I'm busy sewing for a craft sale.

One of the most important items I use when sewing is the lowly straight pin. Plus all its brothers and sisters, because one pin isn't a whole lot of good all by itself.

I'm going to assume that everyone knows what a straight pin looks like, but if anyone doesn't, scroll down and you'll see several pictures to illustrate.

I'm not sure how many pins other people go through in their lifetime, but I still have all the pins I ever bought. I started sewing on my mother's treadle machine, and back then I was still using her pins. That was over fifty years ago. I was about eight. My mother sewed her clothes and my clothes, and I sewed doll clothes.

This is what a treadle sewing machine looks like, by the way:


Uses foot power, not electricity. This looks a lot like my mother's machine.


But then I eventually went to high school and we needed our own supplies for sewing class in Home Economics. This is my first container of pins--yes, I still have it. And they are far superior in quality to the bendy ones you have to buy these days. More on that later.


Purchased in 1969. Nice and sturdy, and they don't reach out and poke you when you least expect it.

 And here's the pin cushion I made (hastily) from scraps a couple of years later--yes, I still have it.

Circa 1971. The light areas on top are where the nap has worn off the corduroy material. Just look at those loose stitches . . . I sewed it by hand and the stuffing put a strain on my lousy seam! I was fourteen years old. I have forgiven myself.

Somewhere along the line, I misplaced my little blue container of pins, and when I took up sewing again, I needed more. Here they are:

These pins are extremely sharp and much thinner and weaker than my originals. I don't like to use them because I hurt myself on them ALL THE TIME. And you can't sew over them with a sewing machine the way you can with thicker ones. The world is going to heck in a handbasket, if you ask me. Even if you don't ask me, it is.

And I was given a new pincushion by . . . somebody in my family (what? can you remember who gave you every single gift you've ever gotten?) at Christmas one year. Or my birthday. I can't remember that either.

This is the classic "tomato and strawberry" pincushion sold everywhere. The big part is the tomato and the little part is the strawberry and you can sharpen your pins and needles by running them repeatedly into the strawberry because it's filled with emery. (I had to look that up on the internet because I actually never knew what was in them before.) My husband says it makes no sense to have a tomato and a strawberry together, and he's right, but someone thought it was a good idea at some distant point in sewing history and apparently no one has put up much of a fuss because this is the way they're still made.

The tomato is upside down in the picture. On the bottom (not shown) is a piece of star-shaped green material to represent the leafy stem end of the tomato. But the pins won't go through that fabric, so it works better upside down. Another design flaw that has never been corrected! Some day I must register a complaint with someone, somewhere.

I've just remembered that I DID buy another box of pins between the two shown here, but I have no idea where it is. I'm lucky to have rounded up these ones for the pictures. You'll have to use your imagination to picture a small hinged plastic box with a black bottom and a clear top. The pins in it are also good quality. I'm set for life as far as sturdy pins go.

But the real whole point of this post is something I bought last week for fifty cents in our local thrift shop. I adore it. And I don't use the word "adore" lightly.

Here is my new pin dish:

I've been looking for a pin dish for months now. This one makes my heart go pitter-pat. I know, I know, I'm not right in the head.

And here it is being useful:

Sitting on the draft blocker that I sewed inside out by mistake. I don't even care! My pin dish makes everything better.


And now you know the reason for the title of this post :)

What's new and exciting (or old and comfortable) in your world? Do tell!

And please have yourself a good weekend :)



42 comments:

  1. I LOVE your new little pin dish :) That sewing machine looks exactly like my mum's old treadly, I used to sit on the floor and watch the wheel spin as she treadled. I made my first pincushion too, I was about 16 and used an empty, washed-out, tuna can. I don't remember what I stuffed it with, but it's looking rather the worse for wear and I should replace it. I might get a tomato and strawberry one, I had no idea the strawberry had emery in it for sharpening pins. I remember the old straight pins too. I don't have any :( only the newer ones with the coloured ball tops, and boy do they bend easy when you're trying to pin strong fabric!

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    1. Those new ones are only about a quarter as thick as the old ones--not an efficiency I would recommend!

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  2. My mother ripped the pins out of her sewing with gay abandon. An incredible number of them found their way to the floor. Where it was my job to retrieve them. And yes, I hurt myself on those skinny modern ones. Often.
    Have a truly wonderful weekend - and I too love your pin dish.

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    1. I couldn't sew that way--I'm too concerned about hurting myself on the flung-around pins, so I feel for you in your "job" . . . Also, I don't want my cats to get stuck, or worse . . .

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  3. Sew, (get it?), when are we going to see the things you've sewn? As lovely as your collection of pins, and pin cushions are, I'd love to see your final creations. And a tomato and a strawberry are both fruits, and both red so they kinda go together. :D

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    1. Ha ha! my "lovely collection" made me LOL. Yes, I know they are both fruits but would YOU eat them together?

      I might do a post on my sewn products although it's apt to be as boring as this one :)

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  4. I still have the pins I bought when I took a sewing course at seventeen. The pins are things you don't want to misplace in the house so the containers are important. I still have the original pin box with an elastic around it. I like your containers much better, Jenny.

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    1. I agree about the containers. The cover on my first one is loose so I keep it in a bag. My pin dish is just for when I'm in the middle of a project; it's easier to use than a pincushion!

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  5. I adore your pin dish too. Something old and comfortable? Shortly after we moved in to this house there was a yard sale down the street. For ten cents I bout a tiny little blue pitcher with an upside down sunflower on it. I love that thing. I keep pens and pencils in it on my desk. It makes me smile every time I look at it. See? I DO understand how you can adore your pin dish lol.

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    1. Yes! Isn't it funny the things that can appeal so strongly to us!

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  6. It's wonderful to see nimble fingers dip into pins, come up with them and use them. My hands gave up pins long ago. I still can use pins that are about three inches long and have a large, flat head, like a flower. But, I can use them.

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    1. I'm glad you mentioned those, Joanne. My fingers are much less nimble than they used to be, too, and sometime I'm going to want to make the switch!

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  7. My mother had a treadle-converted-to-electric sewing machine that looked very similar to the one in the picture, only with the treadle removed. The wheel she spun wool into yarn with was treadle, though, if I remember it correctly.
    I used to have a little sharpening stone for sewing needles. It looked like a little, square, stick with grooves the long way down its sides.
    I mostly used it for sharpening the finest tips of my soldering iron when doing repairs on tiny electronic devices.
    When I sew things, I tend to go over the area I worked in with a big speaker magnet afterwards, to keep from poking hole in myself with sharp things I may have dropped.
    So the cat met the dog, briefly, and didn't seem too freaked out. She seems to come around at nightfall, hungry for food and attention.
    I think I may call her Luna.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. SO MANY THINGS in your comment need commented on, Doug! A converted sewing machine? Your mother spun wool? There's a sharpening stone for needles? YOU SEW? You're blowing my mind :) If you want to elaborate on any of the above, I'm listening.

      I love the name Luna for your new cat, and I'm glad she and the dog were okay.

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    2. Yeah, there was an electric motor mounted on the side with a belt that drove the flywheel, and a foot pedal to control the speed.
      Mom was an avid knitter, and decided to buy a spinning wheel to spin her own yarn, after which everyone started giving her sheep. Sheep figurines, throw pillows with sheep on them, sheep on sweatshirts, even a little glass diorama with a flock of tiny glass sheep being protected by s tiny glass sheepdog, and on and on, until one day she saw that her sheep decorations were taking up more room than her knitting and spinning supplies and she said "Enough with the sheep, already! If you want to give me sheep, give me some nice wool to spin yarn out of instead, please!"
      The ensuing wave of wool made a blob so large that she was happily spinning away for a long time, and I got a fisherman's knit sweater out of the deal that was awesome.
      And yes, the sharpening stone for needles was a tiny whet stone maybe 3 inches long and a quarter inch square with a small groove on each side running lengthwise that you ran the point of the needle down while turning it every few strokes. They have easier sharpeners now it seems, as I couldn't find a picture of one to link to for you.
      And yes, I sew. I'm not that good at it, but I can stop my clothes from falling apart when necessary. And I once had a job hand sewing fine carpet for a high-end floor company. I still have a big, curved, sewing needle from that job.
      The cat has come in, dined, and is now sleeping on the carpet. We'll have to clear off Kitters' old sleeping spots for her as she slowly gets us trained...

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. Those fisherman's knit sweaters were really beautiful - lucky you! Your mom sounds very talented in the wool department. I don't think spinning is an easy thing to learn to do. Good for you for being able to sew enough to repair your clothes. That's something many people can't do.

      That cat sounds like she's right at home already. It won't take long for her to whip you into shape :)

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    4. Can I just say I love you, Doug? When are you going to start your blog? When?

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  8. I remember getting my sewing supplies for home ec. I had the strawberry and tomato. I was hopeless at sewing. Each marking period we would complete a sewing project and then have a cooking project. I always got an "A" in cooking and a "C" in sewing and believe me, I only got the "C" because the home ec teacher was a kind woman. I remained a good cook for my family, but if something needed to be sewn, we had to find someone else to do it. I can sew on a button or repair a bit of a ripped seam. That's it. What's old and comfortable: Franklin and Penelope are here, and Favorite Young Man will arrive in a bit. What's new: I've started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm on Amazon Prime. My son recommended it. It's very funny. I'm on season four.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Cooking was the only test I ever failed, Janie. My mother was a teacher. My failure mortified her so she made me re-write the test at home and take it to the Home Ec teacher (who was unimpressed). I learned my lesson, which was . . . even if it looks like an easy course, study! So I guess my mom's tactic worked.

      I think Curb Your Enthusiasm is one that my grown son also likes. I don't watch TV anymore. If I sit down to watch one thing, I am there for hours. It's like a disease for me. But I miss watching good shows.

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    2. I'm fortunate to be able to watch for a little bit and turn off the TV. I can cross stitch, so I usually work on some project while I watch a show. I rarely watch something without doing something else. I stare at the TV only when I watch a movie that's in another language and I need to read the subtitles. I hope you'll share photos of what you've sewn for the craft fair.

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    3. I admire people who can do handwork of any kind and watch TV at the same time. The only thing I can do when I'm watching is EAT - another good reason for me to stay away from it :)

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    4. My mother in law could knit up an entire baby's layette while watching TV, her fingers knew the patterns so well.

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  9. I haven't seen that many pin dishes in a long time. I am glad you found one that you absolutely adore. Have a great weekend and talk soon. Take care.

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    1. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I bet you've NEVER seen that many pin dishes, Mr. S :)

      For which I feel I should apologize :)

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  10. We used to have Home Ec in high school and one of the courses was sewing. Did you have that? That's actually where I learned to sew. My mother tried to teach me and I was an impatient teenager. But in school I had to buckle down and learn. You are right about pins being different these days. Whenever I have to sew something, I stab myself 3,423 times. Give or take a few stabs :)

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    1. Home Ec is where I learned to sew PROPERLY, as opposed to just "sew". Sounds like it was the same for you :)

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  11. I don't think we have pin dishes over here, I've never heard of them before, but I do like your new one.
    I have a needle case I made at school nearly 60 years ago and is showing its age. When I've finished knitting some cardigans for my new grand-daughter I might have a go at making a new one. It's quite simple, so I shouldn't have a problem.
    I prefer knitting to sewing and don't have any pin stories as the pins you're talking about get 'lost' in a knitted garment. To sew knitted seams up I use old sewing needles as they are longer and sturdier.

    Joan (Devon)

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    1. I don't think "pin dish" is really a "thing" but that's what I call mine, Joan - ha ha. Using long sewing needles is a good idea for holding knitted seams!

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  12. I love how excited you can get about something as simple as a pin! I don't sew much, so my experience with pins is pretty much limited to the ones I pull out of new dress shirts -- and even those have been largely replaced these days by plastic clips. But I love the fact that you still have your 1969 pins and your old pincushion, and I never knew WHY that strawberry was attached to the tomato. A sharpener! Who knew?!

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    1. Well, you know the saying - Small things amuse small minds - hah! Seriously, though, it's like any other job: the right tools make the job easier.

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  13. Learned something new. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for reading, John - it's not a subject that would interest a lot of people :)

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  14. My great grandmother had a similar sewing machine in her kitchen. Not sure what happened to it but she helped me sew a little quilt once and it's one of the highlights of my childhood. I've also had that tomato. Probably the strawberry, too, but I for sure didn't know what it was for. And I love your pin bowl. It's just the sort of item that might make my heart go pitter patter. I'm happy to report, I'm in the same comfortable rut.

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    1. A comfortable rut is the place I best like to be, Chicken :) And yay for good childhood memories given by caring adults!

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  15. I lose pins all the time, I don't know where they go but I don't sew a whole lot so I have only bought new pins a small handful of times. My pincushion was sold as something to polish shoes with (what do you call that? a buffer maybe) anyways, it makes for a very big and luxurious pin cushion, it is a velvet material so quite a bit like your own home made cord one.
    I've never heard of a pin dish but yours is delightful

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    1. Now that's a unique idea for a pincushion! I like a large one and should really make one for myself. The one I showed above is tiny.

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  16. my grandmother had a sewing mating like that, which my mother inherited. it was in our home while i was growing up. it's a verifiable antique, in storage now, and this post makes me thing i should liberate it. the tomato pin cushion is also familiar. my mom had the same one.

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    1. My mother's treadle was stored carelessly and had terrible water damage - I could cry when I think of it. I'm glad yours is safe!

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  17. I didn't realize today's pins are wimpy - I still have the first batch I ever bought (for Home Ec), too. Guess I'd better hang onto them for another 40 years!

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    1. By then you might be able to sell them for a fortune, Diane :)

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  18. You are magician to still have such old tiny stuff with you Jenny!

    I had ll my stuff untill my younger son born and being naughtiest kid he spoiled lots of things and broke many of crockery gifted by my mom still i have forgiven him as he had came after wait of 10 years so we beard all his mischievousness happily !

    I have sewing machine that my mom gave me and it run by hand not foot.

    i have two pin cushions and pin container that was also given by mom 25 years ago

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    1. Haha- kids can be hard on our possessions! But as you say, we bear it because we love them and understand that these things happen. I remember from some of your posts that you sew, and you do it beautifully.

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