Vintage sewing items are highly collectible, showcasing the history of fashion and the evolution of the art of creating garments. Collectors of vintage sewing items run the gamut from those who appreciate the engineering of early machines to style-oriented folks who just want to sew. Collectibles range from sewing machines and spinning wheels to patterns to hand-sewing tools, such as boxes and baskets, thimbles, pin cushions, and scissors.

Sewing needles were originally hand-made using bones or horn (animal sinew was used for thread). Iron needles were introduced in the 14th century, and needles with eyes were developed in the 15th century.

For centuries, people stored their needles in ornamental needleboxes made of wood, bone, sterling silver, or pewter, or in embroidered needle books. Pins were kept in small boxes until the 15th century, when pin cushions were introduced. By the 1800s, pin cushions were a common sewing accessory, crafted in a variety of ornamental shapes and designs. Other sewing items were stored in sewing baskets, often made of wood decorated with inlaid stones or carved patterns.

Sewing baskets held other necessary items such as scissors and thimbles. Steel scissors were introduced in the late 1700s, and sewing scissors are recognizable by their smaller blades and handles. Thimbles, worn on the finger or thumb to protect from needle pricks, were mostly made from gold, silver, and bronze, but other materials (such as porcelain) were also used.

Many people also collect antique sewing machines in addition to sewing tools and accessories. The first conceptual sewing machine was introduced in the late 1700s, but a functional machine wasn't actually produced until the early 1800s.

The first sewing machine in the U.S. was developed by Walter Hunt, and later patented by Elias Howe. But Isaac Singer released the first mass-produced, commercially successful sewing machine in the 1850s. Where previous machines were hand-cranked, Singer sewing machines used a foot pedal. Previously used in garment factories, it wasn't until this practical innovation in 1899 that sewing machines became commonly used in the home.

Vintage sewing patterns have also become a popular collectible. Patterns became commercially successful in the late 1800s and many fashion magazines (e.g. Vogue, McCalls) included patterns of popular styles with each issue. Vintage patterns in good condition are rare, as most were made of paper or cardboard, and destroyed during use.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Sewing Machine Collector

Sewing Machine Collector

Geoff and Norma Dickens' reference site on vintage toy sewing machines from the late 1800s. Browse the images alpha… [read review or visit site]

Sense & Sensibility Patterns

Sense & Sensibility Patterns

An extensive collection of photos and ephemera illustrating changing fashion styles from 1795 to 1959. Includes por… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Singer 221-1 Featherweight Portable Sewing Machine Vintage + Case Book 1940'sFabulous Vintage Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine W/case & AccessoriesAntique Vintage Old Victorian Hand Crank Sewing Machine See VideoRare Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine Table & Original Table Extension 1887 Wilcox & Gibbs Hand Crank Sewing Machine Rare Portable Model With Case Rare Antique Clemens Muller ~la Voyageuse 6~ Saxonia Hand Crank Sewing MachineBeautiful White Singer 221k Featherweight Sewing Machine With CaseSinger Featherweight Sewing Machine Ae219148 Scroll Face 1936Vintage 1953 Singer Featherweight 221 Portable Sewing Machine Case Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine 221 With Hard And Soft Carrying CasesVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Catalog 3-110 W/extras (tested)Victorian Wood Country Cabinet Merrick's 5 Drawer Spool CabinetAntique Solid 14 Kt Gold Thimble * American * Circa 1880Antique Small Singer Sewing Machine 1899 Model 24 Or 25 ?Vintage Singer Sewhandy Model 20 Sewing Machine W Org Box & Booklet-toy-antiqueVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine 3-110 With Hard Case & AccessoriesAntique Palais Royal Box W/ Silk Lining, Mirror & Pincushion * French * C1820Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine & Carrying CaseWorking Singer 221 1953 Featherweight Portable Sewing Machine W/ Case And BookVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine 3-110 With Hard Case & Extras (610)Unusual Antique Mother Of Pearl Palais Royal Thread Winder * Circa 1820Singer 221k White Featherweight Portable Sewing Machine W/ Case & AccessoriesVintage Sky Blue~ Singer Model 20 ~ Sewhandy ~ Toy Hand Crank Sewing Machine 1935 1930's Singer Featherweight 221 Scroll Face Sewing Machine AccessoriesVintage 1947 Singer 221-1 Featherweight Sewing Machine With Case & AccessoriesAntique Carved Bone Parasol / Umbrella Needle Case * Circa 1890Antique French Silver Embroidery Scissors * Circa 1890Antique Vintage Sterling Enamel Thimble Thread Holder And ToolsVintage 1964 Singer 221k Featherweight Sewing Machine & CaseSinger 221 / Featherweight 1951 Centennial Sewing Machine W Case Extras Ak0938311946 Singer 221-1 Featherweight Sewing Machine Serial # Ag883366 Scroll Face,box~*~estate Find~*~ Antique Sterling Silver Sewing Tool Sewing Notion #1Antique Treen Tartan Mauchline Ware Mc Farlane Sewing Needle Thread WaxerLovely Antique Beaded Bristol Board Needle Book * Circa 1840-50British Edwardian Silver Button Set Of 6 In Original Leather Box!!! - MusiciansAntique Steel Stork Scissors * English * Circa 1880Vintage Cast Iron Black Little Lady Child's Sewing MachineAntique Sterling Silver Tatting Shuttle By Webster Co. * Circa 1920Tall Antique Sterling Silver Applied Band Thimble * English * Circa 1840~ Midsummer Roses ~ Ooak Acorn Emery ~ New For June 2017~ By Janie ComitoAntique American Civil War Area Cast Iron 1865 Florence Sewing Machine For PartsAntique Wood Milward's Needles Wooden Advertising Spool Cabinet Case Sewing BoxAntique Set Of Figural Metal *rooster Chicken Buttons* Antique Leather Cased Mother Of Pearl Sewing Set * English * Circa 18903 Antique Bone Thread Spools * English * Circa 1860-1900Most Stunning Antique Openwork Metal Button W/ Robins Egg Blue Enamel & PastesAntique Sterling Silver William Moir Thimble W/ Lois Xv Rim * Circa 1870Look 2+ Lbs Vintage Antique Buttons Lot Celluloid Rhinestone Glass CollectableVintage Glass Fish Button Walrus Fossil Studio Button By Wahaba - "queen Of Hearts"Collection Of 25 Antique Handmade Bone Crochet Hooks, Tatting Needles, StilettosBig Lot Of Antique & Vintage Sewing Buttons #311 Antique Victorian Buttons - Enamel, Steel CutsAntique Singer Sewing Machine,Primitive Cotton Velvet Tomato Pincushion-pin Keep+strawberry Emery Fob28 Golden Age Gilt Era Buttons - Nice Large Lot - Floral, Tin Backs, +1 1/4" Antique Gilt Brass Red Champleve Enamel Button W/flowers - E.m. ParisAntique Civil War Era Shaker? Sewing Kit & Tools Roll Up W/ Original Wooden BoxWhimsical Antique Figural Lady Bug On Leaf Pin Cushion From The Early 1900's ~*~estate Find~*~ Antique Embroidering Scissors #2 Sewing Tool Sewing Notions