Pam’s Pictorama Post: I have always found the term notions as applied to sewing paraphernalia rather romantic. These days your basic notions are getting harder and harder to find, at least here in New York City. Sewing baskets house your tools – pins, needles, thread, scissors, tape measure, hooks, chalk, buttons and the like and they still exist but were more prevalent in the first part of the 20th century I think.
These days kits are sold for the likes of us who may only sew the occasional button – needles, some thread and a needle threader (I needed one of those even before my eyes went bad), which can cover your need for executing the basics, but back in the 20’s sewing was more of necessity and the ever popular Felix might hold your yarn, needles or thread. (Recently I wrote about a Felix curi-oddity that came my way which appears to be meant to hold needles, thread and the like. You can find that post here.)
Pictorama readers may remember that my adventures in stitching tend to be ham-handed at best. With a little luck I can get the occasional button back on. I have stopped short of doing any sewing on my toys however and certainly a hem is beyond me. However, sewing tools and notions do charm me and a few of my other sewing related posts can be found here, here and here.
This fragile small item showed up on eBay recently and intrigued me. I have never seen it before which accounts for a number of years of Felix looking, although things certainly do still turn up. It is plastic and mass produced – there is a crack in the top which means it doesn’t screw on tightly any longer. There may have been many produced, however the thin plastic seems to mean the survival rate is low. A worried, early blocky Felix paces across the front. It has a very hard to read Made in France embossed on the bottom.
Clearly the top can be used as a thimble (I understand the need for and practicality of the thimble, but have never effectively employed one) and inside is a spool which I assume held thread. The top of the spool unwinds and that’s where you could keep a few needles. The thimble top screws on to hold everything together, perhaps the bright orange color helped you keep track of it in your sewing box or maybe even your purse. There was a bit of room inside and perhaps there was a small tape measure or more importantly an edge or some kind that would help you cut the thread. Doesn’t seem to be room for one of my beloved needle threaders however, alas.
Interestingly, a note came with the sewing kit and it reads, Dear Ms. Butler, Thanks for bidding on this unusual cat sewing kit. My best guess is that it was acquired by my mom, who was born in Berdstown, IL 1921. I hope you have a collection of eccentric objects to which this is a welcome addition! Julie Johnson. I am anxious to introduce Julie to the Pictorama collection which I think I can fairly say houses its share of eccentric objects. I will keep her note with it – I love knowing a sliver of history associated with it.
I have also been a fan of the term notions. I once used it on a reimbursement form for a conference expense and was questioned what it was. The expense was approved.
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This made me laugh! And wonder what notions you possibly had to buy while at a conference!