Category Archives: shadow boxes

Shadow boxes

No quilting in my world since I was called back to work May 1. Our startup company lost funding last September and my job wound down in October. It was pretty depressing, but the team found a new funder and, this time, we have a real, honest-to-goodness project, so we are back in business and going 100 miles an hour every day. Moving from no job to a full time job was rough, but I’m adjusting and glad to be at the office doing whatever I can to help out.

I thought I would show you my sewing-themed shadow boxes, now that they’re all done. Back in January of 2014, on a trip to Houston, I took a bunch of my grandmothers’ and mother’s old sewing related items to a framing shop there to be made into shadow boxes. Three years later, we ended up with three unique boxes.

This one we named the Baby Box (27½” x 21½”) because it features magazine pages about how to make baby clothes. These likely belonged to my paternal grandmother, and if they were made for my dad and/or uncle, these pages would date prior to 1930.

Mom and Grandma used a lot of bias tape, piping and other trims for their sewing projects, mostly clothing, and some of the more unique ones with their unusual labels and ultra-cheap prices looked good here.

I wish I knew which of my grandmas had had all the crochet hooks. Only a couple of them might have belonged to my mom because I only remember her crocheting one thing in her life: an afghan for my college dorm room.

Most of the crochet hooks I found among her and my grandmother’s sewing things had teeny tiny hooks, likely not suitable for the thicker yarn Mom used for my afghan.

We picked a different frame for each of the three boxes as well as a different lining color. Here is the frame for the Baby Box:

Here is the Notions Box (21½” x 35″).

It’s a bit chaotic, but that’s often how our sewing rooms look, so it seemed appropriate.

This box had to be built up to make room for the box of pins and the wrist pin holder you see on the middle-right side, which belonged to my paternal grandmother.

My grandma could have been a tailor. Her sewing and fitting skills were impeccable. She used a dress form when she sewed her clothes; in fact, my dad remembers helping her make it. She handed him a roll of brown tape one afternoon and told him to cover her with it! When he finished, he and my grandpa (who was very supportive of her sewing endeavors) cut it and got it off of her. She mounted it on a stand that either she had made or my grandpa had made. Both my grandparents were very clever at fashioning things they needed for around the house, rather than buying everything.

Here is the Notions Box frame:

The last one is the Embroidery Box (41¾” x 25¾”).

In addition to the embroidered pieces, it also contains most of the crochet hooks I mentioned earlier, some darning tools and some upholstery needles like the wicked looking one to the left of the crochet hooks.

The envelope in the upper left corner contained a mail order pattern for my grandma and dates from 1937 to 1947, when she and her family lived at that address (removed for privacy).

After learning that postage in that decade was between 3 and 5 cents, I asked my dad about the 1 cent stamp.

He thought that commercial mailings at the time may have qualified for a reduced rate, similar to the discount second class (periodicals) get today.

I love and appreciate all the knots in this embroidered piece, which was a tablecloth for a card table (Grandma played bridge).

Here’s the frame:

Many sewing supplies remain, particularly thread and buttons.

I filled an old Ball jar from John’s grandmother with a bunch of the spools, and it sits on a shelf in my sewing room.

As for how to showcase all the old buttons, I’m still thinking

It was fun creating keepsakes that highlight two generations of my family’s sewing history. It’s also comforting to know that those little notions, buttons, thread and patterns won’t be lost forever and now can be enjoyed every day.

Thanks for stopping by!

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