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    

Vintage Singer 221k Featherweight White Sewing Machine W/caseNear Mint, All-original 1860's New England Hand Crank Sewing Machine * StunningRare Singer Beige / Tan Je Series 221j Featherweight Sewing Machine 221 Red "s" Vintage~ "singer Featherweight"~ 221k1 Sewing Machine With Case & Accessories #1Small C1920 Antique Ideal Model B Sewing Machine W/ Original Tin Case1954 Singer 222k Featherweight 110 Freearm Sewing Machine With Case + ExtrasRare Antique Singer 24-56 Industrial~ Hat Millinery~ Chain Stitch Sewing MachineBeautiful Rare English Antique 1870 Solid Sterling Silver Chatelaine Pin CushionFancy Antique Steel Scissors & Sterling Silver Sheath * English * Circa 1800Antique Carved Bone Thimble Acorn & Child's Thimble * French * Circa 1820Vintage Singer Featherweight Portable Sewing Machine In CaseVictorian Silver Figural Snake Dolphin Fish Embroidery Scissors Sewing ToolAntique New National Hand Crank Sewing Machine By New Home Sewing Machine Co.Gorgeous & Complete Antique Mother Of Pearl Cased Sewing Box W/ Tools * C1850Antique (c.1895) White 'prize' Hand Crank Portable Sewing Machine With Case.Antique Palais Royal Mother Of Pearl Needle Case * Circa 1820Vintage Singer Model 301a Heavy Duty Sewing Machine W/ Case & Extras Free Ship!Set Of Twelve Ceramic / Porcelain Enamel Japanese Buttons, C. Early 20th CenturyAntique English Sterling Silver Chatelaine Pin Cushion * Hallmarked 1890Vtg 1933 Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine For Restoration Or PartsVintage Black Singer Model 301 Sewing Machine With Accessories In Hard CaseAntique Georgian Brass Needle / Pin Box - A Stitch In Time Saves Nine - W Morton1950 Singer Sewing Machine Feather Weight 221-1Vtg Singer 3-110 Featherweight Sewing Machine In Case W Accessories Singer Sewing Machine 301aVtg 1948 Hand Crank Portable Singer Sewing Machine Model 201k Rounded CoverVintage 1948, Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine, Model 221, With Case Large Rare German Antique Volkstedt Rudolstadt Half Doll Pin Cushion Arms AwayVintage 1948 Singer 201-2 Sewing Machine Heavy Duty Industrial Strength LoadedSinger 221-1 Featherweight Sewing Machine With Case And AccessoriesVintage 1950 Singer 221-1 Featherweight Portable Electric Sewing Machine Faulty Beautiful! Vintage Singer Model 301a Slant Needle Sewing Machine W/ CradleVintage Working Willcox & Gibbs Patented Cast Iron Electric Sewing MachineVintage Colt Firearms Cameo Rouge Perfume Black And White Button - It Opens!Antique Hat Making Willcox Gibbs Sewing Machine, Restored 1875, Willcox DecalsVictorian Sterling Silver Thimble & 'a Present From A Friend' Case, Ca 1870Rare Antique Solid Silver Stork & Turtle Baby Scissors Clamp Birthing Tool NrVintage 1952 Singer Featherweight Portable Model 221 Sewing Machine & CaseVintage Gabler Brothers 800 Silver Thimble, Mushrooms Border 1952 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine 221-1 No Reserve Cheap As-isAntique Mother Of Pearl Tape Measure * Original Silk Tape * Circa 1850Fantastic Scandinavian Sterling Guilloche Enamel Button W/ Pink Roses F39Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine With Case And AccessoriesSinger Featherweight 221-1 Very Nice With Atachments With Case Ah559154 1948Lg Sz Antique Meiji Satsuma Button Egret Birds & Flowers W/ Fancy Border & Bk MkSinger Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine 1945 - For Repair Or PartsAntique Vintage White Cast Iron Family Rotary Treadle Sewing Machine Early 1900sAntique Bone Parasol Needle Case W/ 12 View Stanhope Of Versailles * Circa 1890Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing MachineAntique Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine With Case Vintage Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine With Case + AccessoriesVintage Singer Featherweight #301a Heavy Duty Sewing Machine W/extra AttachmentsFabulous Art Deco German Porcelain Flapper Lady Pin Cushion Half DollAntique Müller 6 Toy Sewing Machine - Machine A Coudre - KindernähmaschineNtique Victorian Carved Bone Scissors * Circa 1890Amazing Intricate Marion Weeber Celluloid Raspberry Button F28Gin-bari Enamel Button - Plant Life Wisteria Or GrapesSinger Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine With Case 1952 Singer Featherweight 221 Portable Sewing Machine W/ Case Parts Restoration70 Antique Victorian Glass Buttons - Swirlbacks, Overlays, Metal Ring, Goldstone