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 German French Fashion Bisque Pin Cushion Doll Glass Eyes Pierced EarsVintage 1970s Heavy Duty Bernina 830 Record Free Arm Sewing MachineEstate Find Antique Stitchwell Miniature / Toy Sewing Machine Hand CrankSinger Featherweight 221-1 Portable Electric Sewing Machine W/ Case & Lots ExtraVintage 1953 Singer Sewing Machine Heavy Duty~mod 201~w/case,key&acces.~must SeeAntique Wilcox & Gibbs Portable Sewing MachineAntique Pistol Shaped Vesta Case, Match Holder Or Maybe Needle Case C.1880Antique Singer Model 28-4 Hand Crank Sewing Machine W/buttonholerAntique Singer 12k Fiddlebase Hand Crank Sewing Machine C. 1874-1885Gorgeous Antique 18k Gold Thimble In Leather Case * American * Circa 1890Vintage Singer Toy Hand Crank Sewing Machine - The Singer Manfg . Co . -Vintage 1960's Singer Featherweight 221 -k Sewing Machine & CaseWilcox Gibbs Hand Crank Sewing MachineV.fine Cased Set Six C1909 Sterling Silver Guilloche Enamel Dress Shirt ButtonsVtg Singer 221-1 Centennial 1851-1951 Featherweight Black Sewing Machine W/accesBeautiful Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine, Case W/ Key, Accessories Antique Leather Cased Crochet Hook / Tatting Shuttle Lace Making Set *circa 1860Vintage Singer 221k Featherweight Sewing Machine W/ Case And AccessoriesVintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Cat. #3-120 In Black Case Works NrUnusual Antique Unger Bros Sterling Silver Folding Sewing Ruler Measuring TapeVintage Red " S " Singer Featherweight Freearm Sewing Machine 222 K Jan 19611964 Singer Featherweight Portable Model 221- Sewing MachineRare! Antique 1940 Blue & White Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine NrVintage 1956 Heavy Duty Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine W/ Custom Made Wooden BaseVintage 1934 Singer Featherweight 221 W/case & Foot PedalWhite Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Model 221k With Green Case Vintage 1953 Singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine With Carrying CaseVintage Singer 221k Featherweight Portable Sewing Machine Extras Feet Rare White4 Unusual Vintage Silver Thimbles * Early-mid 20th CenturyBig Lot 100+ Vtg Sewing Patterns 1950s - 70s Dresses Swimsuits Turbans BlousesVintage Singer Featherweight Model-221 1940 Sewing Machine Serial Af484542Vintage Singer Featherweight 221 Portable Sewing Machine No Case/footpedalPretty Original Singer Hand Crank La Vencedora Decals Antique Sewing Machine Rare Guilloche Enamel Button With Gold Butterflies Marked SwissFabulous Antique Palais Royal Mother Of Pearl Needle Case * French * C1810-201960 Singer 222k Featherweight Free Arm Sewing Machine 250 VoltsBernina 2000de 2000 De Serger Four Thread Free Arm Overlock Sewing Machine + BoxVintage Sterling Silver Tatting Shuttle Bobbin - EnamelSinger Featherweight Sewing Machine X2 Lot + Accessories & Cases Nr! 221 WowImmaculate 1953 Singer 221 / Featherweight Attachments, Keys, Manual & ServicedRare Antique Sterling Silver Bodkin Ribbon Threader 3 Piece Set In Original CaseVtg Singer Featherweight Black Sewing Machine # Ag854848 Box & Buttonholer NrEarly Cast Iron Sewing MachinePretty Antique French Silver Needle Case * Circa 1890sVintage Singer Sewing Machine Featherweight 221-1Vintage Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine With Case Portable AntiqueJohn Clark Jr. & Co. Spool Cabinet- Thomas Russell Sole AgentOld Antique Georgian 1799 Ann Smith Age 11 Childs Pictorial Needlework SamplerAntique Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine Vintage 1957 W/ Case & FootpedalVintage 1954 Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine With Case No ReserveSinger Featherweight Sewing Machine Model 221 K 5. Rare Tan Color. Works!Old Antique Regency 1828 Ellen Chapman Fine Work Pictorial Needlework SamplerAntique Sterling Silver Tatting Bobbin Shuttle & Repousse Thread Case NrSinger 221-1 Feather Weight Sewing Machine Orig Case Accessories 1953-55Antique Cast Iron Sewing Machine Chas.raymond Circa 1860's WorkingVintage 1956 Singer 221-featherweight Sewing Machine W/ Carrying Case & ExtrasAntique Shaded Velvet Strawberry Sewing Pincushion Pin CushionAntique Tartan Ware Needle Box * Clan Mcbeth * Circa 1870~singer 221 Featherweight Sewing Machine ~ 1938 ~complete With Manual ,boxNov.1934 Singer Featherweight Ad 782105 221 Sewing Machine W/case & Extras Ga81