the victorian sewing bird

by | Aug 2, 2022 | Antiques, Favorite Finds, Uncategorized | 13 comments

If you haven’t discovered this about me, yet, I love learning about old things, researching them, and hunting for just the right thing to add to my collection.  It appeals to the history-love in me, my inquisitive nature, and my love of owning and using beautiful, functional things.  Of course, it does appeal to my collector gene, too.  So, when I learned about these delightful, useful tools, I went about my routine of researching, hunting, and then purchasing an antique Victorian sewing bird.

When you search for “Victorian sewing bird” on Etsy or eBay you will find true antiques, reproductions, and ones that have been restored or repaired.  Common restorations include the screw that holds the bird to the table and the fabric pieces that cover the pin cushion(s.)  When I was hunting for one to purchase, I wanted to stay around the $150 price range (or less), and I wanted an original antique without any modern repairs.  That was a tall order, but they do surface.  As with any worthwhile hunt, it just takes patience and persistence.

I finally found a lovely antique Victorian sewing bird that ticked all of my search boxes just a few weeks before we moved out of our house in Minnesota.  Before packing it up again, I clamped it onto the table in my studio and snapped a few pictures.  Isn’t it just a lovely little thing?

antique victorian sewing bird | miss mustard seed

The purpose of the Victorian sewing bird is two-fold.  The mouth will open when pressure is put on the tail and it will act as a third hand, helping to hold a piece of fabric taut.  I love how this little Victorian cartoon shows a woman using her sewing bird for the first time.  “The first time she ever helped me was with my wedding dress.”

antique victorian sewing bird | miss mustard seed

And here is a girl “spending house in the sewing room” with a sewing bird clipped to her desk.  It looks more like this one is a crow and about ready to nip at her, but the idea is the same!

antique victorian sewing bird | miss mustard seed

Sewing birds come in brass and silver and the velvet covering one or two of the pin cushions can be in different colors.  The most common color seems to be a pinkish-red.  Of course, I would’ve preferred a blue one, but if it’s going to be red, this is a very pretty red.  Some of the modern sewing birds have bright red pin cushions and harsh brassy bodies.  As with most things, I prefer the soft patina that comes with age, time, and use.  I just love the details on the wings.  Whoever invented the sewing bird understood that functional things could be beautiful, even works of art in and of themselves.

antique victorian sewing bird | miss mustard seed

When I visited my great-aunt’s house in South Carolina, I spotted and immediately recognized a Victorian sewing bird framed in a shadow box and hung on the wall as a unique piece of art.  I bought mine to actually use, but I find it very tempting to put mine in a shadow box as well.  (You can see a full tour of my aunt’s lovely house HERE.)

antique victorian sewing bird | shadow box | miss mustard seed

I am looking forward to getting a new sewing area set up in our next house.  (You can see the sewing room from our MN house HERE.)

sewing room | blue and white toile fabric walls | miss mustard seed

If you’re interested in purchasing an antique Victorian sewing bird, I found some lovely ones!  Some of them are at a great price, too (around $65-80.)

 

13 Comments

  1. Laura F

    I never knew such a thing existed….How clever! And now my search for a vintage sewing bird commences….lol

    Reply
  2. Kim

    Wow, I would find that to be a very useful tool! I sure wish that the sewing tools that are available today could be made pretty like they were back then.

    Reply
  3. Sandy

    You certainly found a lovely sewing bird. 🥰
    Now we wait to see where she will roost.

    Reply
  4. Irene Kelly

    This is a very lovely unique piece the metal work on it is beautiful. And look st the velvet fabric dont see that often. Leave it to you Marian to find a piece like this !

    Reply
  5. Patricia Kasparian

    You’re right, they’re quite beautiful. I’d never even seen or heard of this object. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Carolyn

      As schools are starting for this hear, I pray Jeff finds a church and to settle his family into a new house. I have your book and I am.slowly copying some of your ideas.

      Reply
  6. Fran

    Lovely! (Adding sewing bird to a list of things I never knew I always wanted.)

    Reply
  7. Michele M.

    I learn so much visiting your blog. This is a first for me. Fascinating!

    Reply
  8. Heidi Vagle

    I have never seen a sewing bird before! What a great invention that is also so pretty! I love birds and will be adding by this to my treasure hunting list for sure!

    Reply
  9. Pat Mays

    I was looking for one for a dear friend of over 50 years and a sewer. I looked for years. Was at a flea market walked into a typical man style item vendor. There is a case of man things was a lovely perfect sewing bird, not perfect a bit shabby, used loved and waiting to found and loved again. I asked about guy had no clue what was or used for, $12.00 later, I bought! Gifted and was loved again. Good things will come to those who wait.

    Reply
  10. Cheryl

    I had never heard of such a thing! How pretty and useful!

    Reply
  11. Paula Carli

    I had collected these sewing birds for several years, many years ago when they could be found. Sometimes I would find one in a sewing basket at an estate sale up in No. California gold rush town where we lived. But then it did start harder to find and the worst was once, I purchased one thinking it was old and turned out to be new. You are right, they are all similar in design, I do have one small one, possibly for a child, one without the pin cushion but I made one for the top part. Great find and there is something magicaly about having them near you when you sew. Thanks for your story.

    Reply
  12. Pam

    You never cease to amaze me !!! I love the 🧵 ng bird and I’ll put it on my list that I must have!!! Because you know of course I really need this. Thanks for making my day. 🤔

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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