craft, Mary Frances sewing

Chapter IX: A Doll’s Laundry Bag

I debated skipping this chapter.

I didn’t make Mary Frances’s Laundry Bag because I am awash in handmade things to put things in. It’s where I started my self-taught machine sewing journey while in Japan…even before I owned a machine! I used a high school’s home economics machines in my down time between teaching.

You want to go wade through my Pinterest page of things to put things in, go ahead.

The chapter involves sewing that bag. Period.

And then I skimmed it again:

Well, self-taught sewist, it’s time to teach yourself about needle sizes and types.

If you’re here for Thimble People entertainment, you can skip ahead to the sewing tools at the end of this post. They are puuurdy. If you stay, prepare for needle talk.

What do the numbers mean? Generally the number of hand-sewing needles (not machine needles) refers to the gauge. The higher the number, the finer (and usually shorter) the needle.

There are also different types of needles:

  • Sharp Needles: Aren’t most needles sharp? Not helpful. These are the average/medium lengths needles with sharp points and the eye of the needle is round (almost a circle but on the oval-ish side).This is probably your general idea of a hand-Sewing needle
  • Between/Quilting needles: shaped like sharps but shorter and thinner (higher gauge) for making fine stitches on heavy fabrics.
  • Milliner’s needles: shaped like sharps but longer.

Photo stolen from

  • Embroidery/Crewel needles: like sharps they have a sharp tip and are of medium length but the eye is a longer oval eye so that they can more easily be threaded with multiple embroidery threads, thicker thread, or yarn.
  • Tapestry needles: blunted tip (sometimes bent at a slight angle) and a large oval eye.
  • Ground Down Needles: I have no idea what this means, maybe the tapestry needles? …no, those were Zephyr needles. I got a little tired of Googling and then going “Ohh, add hand sewing to search” when I got pages and pages about proper disposal of needles and what to do if you find a needle. If you know, drop me a comment.
  • Bodkin needle: blunt, huge eye, used for drawing tape, ribbon or elastic through a loop or hem.

It was with Bodkin searches that I started to drift into “Oooooooh, PURDY!” Remember, really nice ornate sewing tools were sometimes the only property a mother could get away with handing down to her daughter. They were seen as too much “Women’s Tools” for anyone to make sure they remained the legal property of the husband and thus part of what would be passed town to sons. Before sewing became highly automated the ornate tools of sewing and the craft/artistry of needlework, was seen as an aristocratic skill and past time.

All that to say: Check out this bodkin and needle case. Vintage/Antique bodkins get pretty fancy..


Damn…look at that sewing basket. WHAAAAAT?


Sewing Egg: containing needles and a thimble! Makes me almost like thimbles (Seriously, next chapter is all about how Mr. Silver Thimble is the WORST)


Here’s a smoother sewing egg! The Smooth Sewing Eggs could be used to stretch items for darning. I’m not sure what it has inside but I want it.



People say I’m hard to shop for but just get me a flapper vomiting a measuring tape. I will LOVE you.


Sweet dreams


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