Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Needlebook Nostalgia

For those of you who don't follow me on Etsy or Instagram, you may be unaware that I am now stitching and listing needlebooks in my Etsy shop.   They are stitched on subtle coloured evenweave linen to match and highlight the chosen design and complemented with a contrast cotton fabric lining using an array of colours all with the intention to reflect Australia's natural beauty.  These projects have been really creative to stitch and sew, but I have to admit that I was unprepared for how I really enjoyed working my designs on evenweave and linen.  The plan is to continue so I guess that just means building up my stash of more coloured linens.  Oh well...what's a girl to do!

Research on the internet has revealed a plethora of needlebooks from the simply constructed using basic materials to the intricate and beautifully designed and exquisitely stitched works of art which seem almost too precious to use.  Check on Etsy, Pinterest and Google images and you will see what I mean.  So it was quite the coincidence when I was going through some paperwork the other day that I came across a torn out article from a craft magazine from years ago on needlebooks.  I have no idea how old the magazine and article are but the story outlines the history, inception, marketing techniques and nostalgic values which I found incredibly interesting and felt worthy of sharing.  

Between the 1920's and 1950's, advertisers used the marketing strategy of offering paper needlebooks as giveaways and a goodwill object (complete with company logo, contact details and graphics) as something to give to women which would be used on a daily basis to provide a constant visual reminder of their product.  Being approximately the size of a postcard, the lightweight cardboard needlebooks included sets of different types and sizes of commonly used needles and often included unusual needles which also revealed a lot about the period because housewives of the early 20th century often had to turn their hands to all sorts of running repairs around the home.  Whilst the assortment of needles attached to cardboard, foil or cloth inside the book indicated the items women were familiar with, just as important were the graphics on the outside such as hairstyles, fashion trends, leisure activities, world events, building and industry advances all which gave a reference guide of the social history at the time of production.  Common themes were used and it was interesting to note how a particular graphic of a group of women stitching, when reissued over a period of time, reflected current trends and created a time line of fashion styles.

Needlebooks of the previous century have become highly collectable items and depending on their condition and subject matter can range in price significantly.  They were never designed to be anything but a temporary or ephemeral object which means their conservation over the years have been compromised and despite the fact that thousands were produced, there are not many original examples.  Reproductions are easy to locate and obtain perhaps because of the popularity to recapture the nostalgic desire for the simplicity of the past.

The magazine article points out that women have always loved experimenting with designs and techniques and that needlebooks have always been a favoured gift for sewing friends as a token of affection - no matter what the generation.

My mother was a dressmaker by trade and still to this day sews and crafts, but I'm pretty sure I can remember seeing a couple of these needlebooks in her basket and top drawer of her sewing machine table when I was young ... make that younger.  Brings back wonderful memories.

If you would like to check out the needlebooks in my Etsy shop just click on the logo at the top of this page.


'Our life is a creation of our mind' - Buddha

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