Friday, July 5, 2013

Sewing baskets, part II

Last week, I showed you my main sewing basket, containing all of the implements I use in both hand- and machine-sewing. Thank you for your comments on that post; yes, I am pretty organized. The whole world feels better to me that way! Maybe I have a little bit of a problem. Well, at least I can find what I need. Now, I'd like to share my other sewing basket, which is very dear to me.

Let me preface this tour by saying that I am sure it is evident from my posts that I have a very good relationship with my in-laws. I know that isn't true for everyone and I know that I am really fortunate. They are involved in our lives in mostly positive and productive ways, which I know is not always the case with in-laws. They have also given me many family heirlooms and other gifts, which they choose with special care. This sewing basket was my birthday present several years ago.

The basket has a somewhat murky history; I don't know very much about it before it came to me. I know that my in-laws are frequent attendees of a local auction in their town in New Zealand (they are American expatriates, and have been as long as I have known them; they spend several months every year in New Mexico near us). They have bought a lot of interesting things at the auction over the years and this sewing basket was one of them. Apparently, it was in poor condition but they thought it would be fun to fix it up for someone - and that someone ended up being me.

I don't know what kind of wood it's made from - my father-in-law said it's probably some type of native New Zealand wood; they have many trees we don't have in the Northern Hemisphere. He refinished the wood, giving it a nice shine. He also fixed the side hinges; this is one of those old-fashioned baskets with three tiers. It's obviously old; how old, I have no idea, but they think it's from the first half of the twentieth century - so, broadly, it's pretty old.

The cushioned lid covers were in bad shape when they bought the basket, so my mother-in-law set about repairing and replacing them. As I've mentioned, she is very talented with textile arts of all kinds and seems to know how to do just about anything. I've learned a lot from her. Actually, I spent many years feeling a bit intimidated by her, but she never made me feel that way; self-confidence has never been my strong suit. Anyway, she remade the cushions in bargello, an intricate style of needlepoint, using wool yarns. Each side of the lid has the same pattern.

One side, as above, also has my initials embroidered into the design. And both sides also have glass beads worked into the red part of the flowers. I think this is so beautiful. I actually gasped the first time I saw it; nobody had ever made me anything with my initials on it before. I loved that it made it all mine, just for me.

When I opened the basket, I was surprised to find that they had also filled it. They bought skeins of embroidery floss in many, many colors and put them into zippered plastic bags, sorted by color, inside all of the inner compartments. I had never seen so much embroidery floss in one place, outside of a craft store! But it has been wonderful, especially in the past year or two since I have been trying to develop embroidery skills. I had done counted cross-stitch for a long time and had a little collection of floss already; this addition made my collection pretty vast.

Both of the upper two tiers on both sides of the basket were filled with these zippered bags. There are eight altogether, seven of them are solid shades in various color families and the eighth contains variegated skeins. I've been using them for years now and still have plenty to go.

The bottom part did not have floss in it but it did contain my little thimble case in the shape of a hat, as seen in my first sewing basket post. It was a lovely little surprise to find at the bottom of the basket when I first opened it.

This basket is one of my favorite possessions. It sits on a shelf in our home office (which is also my craft-storage headquarters), above my little desk where I am typing this blog post right now. It is practical and beautiful, almost like a piece of furniture. This basket means a lot to me. It was a lot of work for both of them and they put much thought into every part. They saw potential in an old, battered item at the auction and they made a beautiful, special gift just for me.


  1. Your basket is stunning - and the love that comes from this gift and all the hand work it took to restore it is beautiful. You have wonderful in-laws and I love the way you express your gratitude to them - no wonder they're crazy about you!

  2. So much love put into that basket. The reason they gave it to you is because they knew you'd cherish it. It's beautiful!

  3. Your basket it so pretty, Jennifer. What a lovely, thoughtful gift from your inlaws! I love it when somebody really knows you enough to personalise a gift, you'll cherish that for so many years. I would have been so excited about all of that embroidery floss! x

  4. I can see why this basket would be one of your favourite possessions. Improve the Bargello work.

  5. That is lovely. My sewing box is the same but has legs. I never thought about covering the top, but might do it as it is out on display most of the time.

  6. Reading this gave me goose bumps...lots and lots of love went into this gift and it is such a sweet sentiment. You are a special lady!!

  7. Absolutely beautiful in every way - I continue to be amazed at your dear mother-in-law's talents! Extremely special gift! Your in-law's obviously value and appreciate you so much!
    Joy x

  8. Jennifer, what a lovely sewing box. Thank you for sharing your story about this beautiful sewing box. I absolutely love reading your posts.

  9. Really lovely. What a special, thoughtful gift. Your in-laws sound like lovely people.
    M x

  10. Hi Jennifer, Your sewing box is just beautiful!!!You are indeed fortunate to have such lovely in laws!!!And the work that's gone into the top of your box, is just amazing!!!Very talented work indeed!!!Have a happy weekend!!!

  11. Your sewing box is so very pretty, I'm sure they knew you would treasures it. I have my mums sewing box from when she was a girl, but it has a broken strap now you have inspired me to get it fixed.

  12. What an absolute treasure - from a pair of treasures! Beautiful x Jane

  13. Oh wow Stephanie ... what a perfect gift that was, and what a sensationally beautiful thing to own. I'm sure you'll cherish it always!

  14. It is a truly beautiful gift. It's great that you have such a happy relationship with your in-laws, and they obviously think the world of you. All my embroidery threads are in a right muddle - I need some of those ziplock bags! x

  15. Both the basket and the story of how your in-laws fixed it up for you are beautiful. What a lovely post - such a tribute to the relationship you have with your husband's parents.

  16. Its beautiful and such a lovely story of how it became yours. Have a great weekend!

  17. That is one gorgeous gift! You are so right that you are lucky to have them as in-laws. My husband's father was just plain mean to me, his poor mother was in a wheelchair and she taught me to knit and crochet and made me a few fun things as she was an expert seamstress. She made me a bunny couple, I'll have to show it on my blog sometime. That is a beautiful box, I think the handle is oak and the rest of it pine, perhaps. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  18. Jennifer, so sorry, I have no idea why I addressed that comment to Stephanie ... I blame the heat!

    1. No worries, Annie! I understand, I find it hard to think in the summer sometimes. :)

  19. What a lovely story behind a beautiful item. It's always nice to have something that has a story behind it I think. It looks like its packed full of loveliness!

  20. What wonderful in laws to think of you so much, but I bet that's on both sides. I too have a box like that, except mine in in a light wood and has plain wooden lids. It's also not in a good condition and needs some TLC.
    S xx

  21. You have some very special folks there, Jennifer...
    You and your wee family are lucky to have them!

    Had a great weekend...hope you did as well!

    Linda :o)

  22. What a lovely thoughtful gift, no wonder your treasure it and your inlaws so

    Clare x

  23. Hi Jennifer

    I just found your blog a few days ago and I have been reading through your wonderful posts. As a new blogger myself it is great to be able to read what others have written. I was planning to write a comment when I got to the "end", but when I came to this post I had to write.

    I LOVE that sewing basket. The actual basket is beautiful, and the tapestry on the top is particularly lovely. The thought behind it and knowing that it was renovated and decorated just for you, by your in laws is fabulous too.

    How wonderful for you to have such lovely relations and family. It sounds as though you are all very close.

    Looking forward to reading lots more from you in more posts to come!


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