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]

Sensibility Vintage Images

Sensibility Vintage Images

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    

Antique Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine Lg Vintage Old West Town Tailor Pair Of Scissors Wood Occupational Folk Art SignComplete Ornate Antique Silver Sewing Chatelaine * 1892 Sterling Silver ThimbleOld Vintage Antique Chain Stitch Sewing Machine Wilcox Willcox & Gibbs See VideoOriginal 1869 Patent Model Mechanical Circular Sock Knitting Machine Csm W/ TagWorking Classic 1952 Singer 15-91 Heavy Duty Direct Drive Sewing Machine LeatherVintage, Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine, Model 221, With Case Antique... Wheeler & Wilson No. 8 ~ Hand Crank Sewing MachineBeautiful 1951 Centennial Singer Featherweight 221-1 Sewing Machine W/ Case!!Antique Mother Of Pearl Needle Book * English * Circa 1850 Three 19th C Antique Tartan Ware Sewing Thimble Cases All Signed #19 NrAntique Silver Filigree Mandolin Thimble Holder * English * Circa 1840Vintage 1935 Singer Featherweight Scroll Face Sewing Machine 221Two 19th C Antique Tartan Ware Sewing Items Thread Winder & Pin Cushion #10 NrAntique Cast Iron Sewing Machine Patent Date 1858 With Walnut BoxBeautiful 1964 White Singer Featherweight 221k Sewing Machine With Case & More!!Singer 1961 Featherweight 221 K*sewing Machine*awesome!!!Ornate Antique French Silver Floral Needle Case * Circa 1830Five 19th C Antique Tartan Ware Sewing Pin Cushions - Signed #21 NrAntique Case French Silver Mistletoe Sewing Set * Circa 1880sAntique Complete 5 Piece Sewing Etui C1910 Scissors, Needle Case Thimble BodkinOutstanding - Unsorted Estate Antique Vintage Button 14 + Lbs Lot - RhinestoneVintage Singer Sewing Machine Thread Bobbin Featherweight Case Tray AttachmentsVintage Sterling Silver Limited Edition Tulip Thimble By Helmut Greif * 1994Singer Sewing Machine Model 221 Feather Weight (everything Included!)Early Antique Sterling Silver Thimble W/ Cherubs & Heart * English * Circa 1690Vintage 1940s Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine Striped Faceplate -no RsvSinger Featherweight 221 Sewing MachineHuge Vintage Button Lot, Over 9.5 Lbs! Rhinestone, Military, Bakelite, MopVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Model 221 W/ Case And AttachmentsVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Model 221 With Case Extras PortableAntique Solid Silver Knitting Sheath / Stick * Dutch * Circa 1840Antique Bone Tambour Style Crochet Hook * Circa 1870Excellent Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine 1938 Near Mint Quilting DreamAntique Figural Brass Turtle Tape Measure * Germany * Circa 1900Rare Casige 7 Westfalia Toy - Miniature Sewing MachineVintage 1926 Heavy Duty Pfaff 11 Hand Crank Sewing MachineEarly Antique 18 Kt Gold Scissors * French * Circa 1780s Two 19th C Antique Tartan Ware Sewing Items Signed Prince Charlie #9 NrAntique Figural Roman Lady Silver Sewing Set * Germany * Circa 1860Antique French Gilded Silver Thread Winder * Circa 1890Vintage 221k Tan Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Not WorkingSinger 1936 Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine With Case And Attachments.Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine VintagePretty Antique Carved Bone Needle Case * English * Circa 1880Vtg Singer 221-1 Featherweight Black Sewing Machine W/ CaseVintage 1000+ Button Collection~paperweights~military~birds~animals~circus~hats!Superb 1961 Singer Featherweight 221-k Sewing Machine W/caseVintage Singer Featherweight 221k Sewing Machine For Parts/repairAntique Sterling Silver Brighton Chain Pier Thimble * Circa 1850Vintage Singer Model 301a Heavy Duty Industrial Sewing Machine Case Manual AttchSinger Sewing Machine 221k Vintage AntiqueOrnate Antique English Sterling Silver Embroidery Scissors * Hallmarked 1900Antique Palais Royal Mother Of Pearl Thimble * French * Circa 1840Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine No CaseAntique French Enamel Hand Painted Couple Scene Button In Gilt FrameVintage Singer 222k Sewing Machine, Case & Accessories, Vg Working Condition1953 Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine Carrying Case With Key1948 Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine For RestorationWillcox And Gibbs Original 1875 Chain Stitch Sewing Machine