Saturday, September 10, 2016

Sewing Machine Stitchery Advertising Premiums

Sewing Machine Stitchery Advertising Premiums.......Wow, that’s a mouthful, but what else could one call them?

Author’s note:
I haven’t been able to find anything written about sewing 
machine stitchery sample advertising.  I corresponded with
existing sewing machine companies asking about stitchery 
samples and only Singer responded; telling me there was 
nothing in their archives however, the Singer representative
added they were “probably made by independent dealers.”


The first practical sewing machines were sold to the public in the 1850’s.  They were only the second machine (the first being firearms) to use standardized parts, making manufacture and repairs significantly easier than for non-standardized machines.  In the early to mid-19th century many people believed women would be unable to operate machinery.  Marketing sewing machines required that belief be countered.  Showrooms were setup in cities and exhibition halls with pretty, young women demonstrating the machines, disproving the above fallacy about women and machines.  Sewing machines were sold on installment plans, the first household items to be sold that way; and trade-ins were offered for older and competitor machines.

Trade cards became a popular advertising media during the 19th century.  This was fueled by a scrapbooking craze of the era.  Advertisers competed to offer the most beautiful and interesting cards, hoping their cards would attract attention and would be retained.  Singer Sewing Machine, Davis, Howe, New Home, Wheeler & Wilson, Domestic, and other major sewing machine companies all created traditional attractive and novelty cards, but unlike trade cards for non-sewing machine goods, some of the sewing machine cards depicted “fac-simile” printed pictures of beautiful embroideries and costumes made on their machines.  A small number of cards were even engraved with pictures of embroidery stitches that could be done on the advertised sewing machine.

The next step was to put an example of the stitching directly on the card, some with fancy embroidery stitches and others with trim or ruffles sewn onto the card.  This led to cards being published with blank sections for embroidery (usually flowers or hats) to be added.  However, unless these cards found their way into a collection (either an album or an emptied cigar box), most likely these cards would be trashed. 

During the late 1800s someone decided that sewing machine advertising might be more effective if premiums were offered that would be retained and perhaps used, serving as constant reminders of the quality of their sewing machines.

I believe the first premiums were late 1800s doll bonnets.  Each bonnet was shaped and had attached ruffles, requiring much machine-work. I have two of these: a 7 X 3.75-inch one, stamped on the inside with “From the Standard Sewing Machine Agency, 326 No. Wash. AVE., Scranton, PA” and a 6.4 X 4.3-inch one stamped “Stitched on ‘No. 9’ Wheeler & Wilson”.   Standard was in operation from 1884 until 1929.  Wheeler & Wilson produced the No.9 Sewing Machine between 1887 and 1905.  I haven’t seen any other sewing machine advertising bonnets---perhaps because all stampings are on the inside or because multiple washings may have obliterated those stampings; but I also suspect that because so much work went into making each of these bonnets, their original distribution was minimal.

Another popular premium, offered by advertisers of many products, and especially popular before the advent of electric fans, were cardboard hand-fans.  However, some of those advertising sewing machines had added sewn-on embellishments.  The two in my collection: one made by “White Sewing Machine Company” of Cleveland, Ohio (White moved to Cleveland in 1866.) and another by “Standard” have ruffled ribbon edgings and bows.  Due to frequent use and weakened cardboard where embellishments were sewn-on, few of these fans appear to have survived, although I suspect they were fairly common during the turn of the century.

The most common (or perhaps, the most saved) sewing machine sample stitchery advertising premiums seem to be miniature (doll-sized: 2.7-inches to 6-inches long) aprons.  These were made from at least the early 1890s until about 1940.  Davis, Domestic, New Home. Singer, Shryock, Wheeler & Wilson, White, and perhaps other sewing machine manufacturers, all offered these premiums.  I have seen 16 of these, 13 of which are in my collection.  Most of these simple little aprons are stamped or printed with Sewing Machine Company information, although a small number are made with special Singer Sewing Machine logo fabric and/or have business cards sewn into the waist or into one of the ties.

The last type of premium I have found is an embroidered silk or rayon book mark of unknown date still attached to a paper imprinted with “Made on the ‘White’ Sewing Machine with Shaded Corticelli Sewing Silk” and “White Sewing Machine Co., Cleveland, Ohio”.

If you have any additional information on Sewing Machine Stitchery Advertising Premiums or examples to show I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I hope you have enjoyed National Crochet Month and Crochetville's designer blog tour.  Join me in thanking Amy Shelton and Donna Hulka in putting this all together!

All the winners have been notified, they have selected their winnings, which have been packed/mailed, and all tracking numbers sent out to winners. Congratulations Sharon, Regina, Jessica, Julie, Maria, Amanda, & Dana!!!

As a textile/crochet historian and designer, I collect crochet books and often end up with duplicates.  I have tried selling on eBay, but that was unsatisfactory and have learned that I prefer to give my duplicates to go to those who would appreciate them most.  I have seven lots of books for give-away (free to anyone in the US, and for the cost of postage for anyone outside of the US). To be eligible to be randomly selected, leave a "NatCroMo" note to me on this blog or Facebook private message, by midnight April 1, 2016.  If you receive a "good luck" note from me, you will know that you have been entered.  The seven lots are below and the randomly selected winners will get their choice in order of their selection.

1) Raffino, Jonelle & Mapstone, Prudence.  Freeform Style (2009)
                      North Light Books, Cincinnati, OH.
2) Wiseman, Nancie M. Crochet with Wire (2005) Interweave Press,
                      Loveland, CO.
3) Fisch, Arline. Crocheted Wire Jewelry (2009) Lark Books, Asheville,
4) Dowde, Jenny. Freeform Knitting & Crochet (2004) Sally Milner
                       Publishing Pty Ltd, Bowral, Australia.
5) Six crochet booklets in varying condition:
                       Spool Cotton Co. Pot holders to the Rescue #164
Nun's Crochet Twist Instruction Book #852
Clark's Ruffled Doilies #253
Spool Cotton Co. Doilies #184
Clark's Pineapples on Parade #241
J&P Coats & Clark's The Pick of the Pineapples #287
6) Six crochet booklets in varying condition:
                       Laura Bed Dolls & Sweet Dreams
Lily Smart Crochet
J&P Coats & Clark's Quick Crochet #300
Weldon's Crochet Accessories
Lily Crochet Book 1300
Nat'l Crochet Bureau Prize Winning Crochet Designs
7) Six crochet booklets in varying condition:
                       Fuchs' Dress & Suit Fashions in Wool Vol. 108
Fuch's Fun Fashions in Wool Vol. 121
J&P Coats & Clark's Priscilla Filet Crochet #317
Nat'l Crochet Bureau Prize Winning Crochet Designs
J&P Coats & Clark's Prize Winners #257
Ely's Pointers for Crocheting & Knitting

By the way, I had intended to provide a free pattern, but life got in the way.  I am sorry.  Check out my website: for more information about my designs and publications.  Nothing for sale at this time.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Volume 26, Number 2 of the Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) Chain Link newsleter, dated Summer 2016 contains my article on The National Crochet Contest 1937 - 1958. In that article I promised more pictures to be published here.

First are five pictures from the crochet booklet: Prize Winning Crochet Designs National Crochet Contest - 1937, from the very first annual contest.  (For those of you following the National Crochet Month {NatCroMo} blog tour and who plan to participate in my giveaway on 31 March, I will be offering a couple of these booklets.) You see here the cover with an inset of the "National Queen of Crochet," Mrs. Frank E. Hayward.  That is followed by a picture of Mrs. Hayward holding her winning blanket.

Next you see a page with details of the first contest & depicting the showroom with the contest entries, followed by a page listing all the winners and depicting Mrs. Hayward demonstrating crochet tips.

The back cover lists the details for the upcoming 1938 Second Annual National Crochet Contest.  And here is a press-release photograph of Mrs. Hayward receiving her winning citation.
Next are both sides of a postcard given to a state or county fair blue-ribbon-winner, authorizing the recipient to enter the National contest.  Apparently, the blue-ribbon-winner who got this card decided not to enter the National contest.

Here's a press release picture of John Miller, identified as a California lumberjack (what could be more manly?), the winner of the Men's Division of the 3rd National Crochet Contest, being congratulated by Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., a contest patroness.  Despite having competed in a much smaller field of 15 male contestants, out of a total of over 2,300 entries, newspaper articles gave more attention to Mr. Miller and his lovely bedspread than they did to the National Champion, Mrs. E. N. Noble of Minneapolis.  However, I did find a comment that Mrs. Roosevelt declared Mrs Noble's banquet cloth to be "the most remarkable piece of crochet she had ever seen."  Unfortunately I have yet to find a photo of that banquet cloth.

Mrs. Adolph E. Burkhardt of Poland, OH, fared better.  Here is a press release photo of her with her entry (hard to see but looks like it might be Irish Crochet in the center).  She was the Grand Champion in the 1940 4th Annual National Crochet Contest of 350,000 contestants, then sponsored by the National Needlecraft Bureau.  Harry Troxell of Cleveland, OH, won the Men's Division.  His 23rd Psalm bedspread was prominently displayed in back of Mrs. Burkhardt and Mr. Troxell in a newspaper article I found.

In 1949, Mrs. Thomas L. Nightingale of Sacramento, CA, won the Crocheting Championship for the third time, previously having won the title in 1938 & 1942 with relatively little press recognition.  Mrs. Thomas won her rewards with size 150 thread filet crochet creations.  After this win, contest rules were changed so that prior year's winners were no longer eligible for future entries.   I wonder how many more contests the 71-year-old, Mrs. Nightingale would have won had the rules not been changed.

Industrial Foreman, George Link of Bunker Hill, IL, won the 1951 Men's Division of the National Crochet Contest.  The press reported simply that "The Grand Championship reward at the contest went to a woman."

In 1952 the title of the contest was changed to the Nationwide Crochet Contest.  Here is a poster advertising the 1953 contest.

Here's a press release photograph of Mail Carrier Anthony White of Portland, OR, winner of the Men's Division of the 1954 Nationwide Crochet Contest.  The trend of highlighting interesting Men's Division winners more than the Champions continued through the last contest in 1957.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Oooops!  The latest issue of Crochet! Magazine with its CGOA Chain Link newsletter (for members only) just arrived on my doorstep.  I didn't expect it to be distributed until after the first weekend of April.  And the article I wrote for the newsletter on the National Crochet Contests promises more pictures of the National Crochet Contest Here.
Here is one picture.  I will post more with explanations tomorrow.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Goals, prioritized

2016 is shaping up to be an extremely busy year!  Every year I have goals, but I tend to take on too many, adding more throughout the year, resulting in my not accomplishing as much as I desire.  This year I decided to publish those goals in prioritized order, to help me to focus, knowing at anytime anyone of my Face Book and blog followers could query me on their status.  If I add any new goals I need to determine where they fit in priority. I think this will help me to avoid straying from my 2016 Goals:    OK, I did it, I am talking with someone about adding another goal---#11!  But it is too cool to pass up!  In 2016 I succeeded on many of these and others were not so successful, but this goal list did make me aware of what I was doing, what I was accomplishing and what I needed to work on, so I plan to do it again in 2017.

1) This probably has to be my first priority, since I have been committed to writing quarterly articles for the Crochet Guild of America's (CGOA) Chain Link Newsletter for a long time.  Deadlines around the 20th of January, April, July, and October.  I have many ideas for topics.  Need to post National Crochet Contest pics to this blog in early April to support the article I wrote in January.  April's submission is due during mid-April.  All quarterly articles were written and published during 2016.  This is an on-going commitment and will be resurrected in my 2017 goals,

2) National Crochet Month (NatCroMo): I have promised to provide a free pattern and a vintage crochet book give-away for my day: 31 March.  I plan to make the pattern overlap with my number 7 and possibly my number 11 goals.  I have advertised this on my Facebook page.  Gathered books for the give-away, some really great ones!  I did not provide a free pattern, but did do the book give-away.  This is a yearly commitment and I plan to participate again in 2017,

3) Committed to giving a short discussion and display of vintage yarn winding tools to the Prince William Purlers on June 7.  This is a high priority goal, because of a firm commitment, but it will not require much work. Gave a very successful discussion/display of yarn winders for the Prince William Purlers and later for the Prince William Crochet Guild. Additionally gave a talk to the Prince William Purlers on the WWI Knitting Campaign.  Both the Prince William Crochet Guild and thePrince William Purlers have invited me to give 2017 presentations.

4) Writing a crochet book, can't release details yet, but related to my  fifth goal.  For me this is a very big goal and I am stretching to do something new, so probably a 5-year goal.  However, I expect to have it well on its way (with a publisher lined-up) by August 2016.  I have done much research, and started some projects--  Started a handful of projects, 2 are finished, and done more research.  I acquired many publications and done much research and some crocheting.  Much more work remains.

5) Get together a mid-19th century Crochet Instructress impression by August 2016.  I have started some projects. gotten some accessories, and identified other accessories still needed.  I have gotten most supplies and accessories.  Much sewing and other crafting to be done.

6) Gear-up on my freeform Textile Tribute to the Arts collaborative project.  The only reason it is this far down on my priority list is because of the far-off submission date: September 2017.  I have created a Face Book page(, but have not advertised it yet---that must be done by roughly September 2016.  Created a bibliography of freeform books, available on my webpage: . Much work to be done,  

7) By 1 May, create my contribution to the Cyra Lewis' 2016 International Free Form Fiberarts Guild book, theme: Flora/Fauna of my Country/Region. My general design is planned, and started.   This project can be related to my number 2 & 11 goals.  I was not able to accomplish this goal, perhaps I can participate in 2017.

8) Create a submission for CGOA's Annual Design Contest, probably must be done by May or June 2016.  Design started and all supplies accumulated.  I was not able to complete this in time, but much work has been done and hope to submit it in 2017.

9) Committed to give a presentation/display at Prince William Purlers meeting on WWI & WWII knitting items, during fall 2016.  Completed presentation on WWI knitting and have been asked to return in June 2017 to give presentation on WWII knitting.

10) I have not committed to this, but Prudence Mapstone has put out a call for submission for a Jumpers & Jazz festival and is soliciting brightly-coloured freeform knit & crochet Jumpers (sweaters) by April 2016 (soon!).  Because of my relationship with Prudence, I would really love to participate, but I am reluctant to do so because I have so many other commitments.  I gave in on this one and created a squirrel scrumble which made it to the top of one of Prudence's trees,

11) Another goal, not yet a commitment, but talking with Brian Horrigan of the MN Historical Society about possibly providing WWI Workbasket Campaign items for the Home-front portion of his April 2017 planned exhibition of WWI America.  I wrote to Brian a couple of times and he promised more information about what he requires.  The ball is in his court as to whether this comes to fruition.

12)  A goal, not a commitment: Larisa Chilton is sponsoring an Irish crochet butterflies and flowers world map, with brightly colored butterflies and white flowers.  I love Larisa's art, want to take a class from her some day, and this project sounds fabulously beautiful.  Additionally, there is no deadline on the submissions, making it hard for me to put this on my priority list.  However, I can combine this effort with my number 7 goal and possibly my number 2 goal.  I need to follow up on this,  I don't know if it ever got off the ground.

13) Not a commitment, but want to create at least one contribution for the UK Hyperbolic Crochet Forest Project.  The deadline on this is unclear, but I believe their plan is to start exhibition in September 2017.  I am stoked by my idea for this project, but can't commit to it.  I created a 12-foot stream for the project, with the coolest ever mini-waterfall.

14) No commitment or deadline, but I need to do some beading for me.  I have some fabulous cabochons (one a Sonoran Sunrise and another an Ian Escaro outer-space inlay) that are "screaming" at me for attention.  Their necklaces have been designed, just need the time to sit down and bead.  Took a beading class on 27 February to quell the screaming a bit.  I almost completed my Sonoran Sunrise Necklace (just needs the clasp) and I will finish it in 2017.  Maybe I will do the Outer-Space Necklace in 2017 too!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Remiss --- Catching up

I have been so remiss in posting to my blog, so here is my attempt to catch up.  Within the next couple of days I will post my planned activities for 2016, but for now here is a quick rundown of my most significant activities during 2015:

Early in the year my son, Paul Allan Ballard, and Corinna Herden eloped.  I was honored that she wore the  necklace I beaded for her, it is my variation of Maggie Meister's Victorian Grand Tour Necklace.

In March I participated in Prudence Mapstone's Fifty Years of Flower Power project with two submissions: 
Later in the year, Prudence assembled all the contributions into a magnificent art piece, started its tour, and it was featured in Down Under Textiles, with my contributions centered on the cover of that magazine!

I also contributed to Kathryn Vercillo's Mandalas for Marinke, a project to raise depression awareness.  I also posted a pattern for the middle mandella (earlier in this blog).

and to 's "Flowers for Memories" Alzheimer's research project.  I wish I had written a pattern for this.

2015 was my first year in participating in the International Free Form Fiberarts Guild annual challenge.  Last year's theme was Ocean - The Color of Water, and my submission was included in the book.  I call my submission "On Golden Sands":

The year ended with my father's passing and with me feeling sad and very mortal.