Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs Boyd's Thread

Last year, I started a sewing group in Sandgate, where we lived temporarily. One day, shortly after a story appeared about our group in the local paper, I got a call from a man who said he had boxes of dressmaking supplies to give to me that he no longer needed.

All I had to do was go and pick them up.

I bundled Lucinda into the car and drove to a small, well-loved house in an unpretentious suburb. After a knock on the door, a frail old man showed me to his wife’s old sewing room. 

She’d passed away very recently, after working from home as a dressmaker all her life. She had boxes upon boxes of supplies and equipment and he wanted it all gone. 

I have no use for it now, he explained.

He went on to tell me about his wife and the life she’d lived. He showed me pictures of the couple on their wedding day -- her wearing a dress she’d created. They looked young and happy. 

He told me about the things she liked to make and the clients she’d had over the years.Then, we carried the boxes to the car and he sent me on my way with a wave.

Back at home, I started unpacking and really started to see the treasures I’d uncovered. Boxes of threads, bindings, lace trimmings, buttons and beads. Thimbles and fasteners and zips and elastics.

A lifetime's worth of tools, carefully labelled Mrs Boyd

In a box of patterns, there were envelopes addressed to Mrs Boyd at the same address I’d visited. They dated back to the days –many decades ago — when the local paper had operated a pattern service. 

This woman had lived nearly her whole life in that home, sewing and stitching and creating and mending. Purely by chance, I’d been the lucky beneficiary of the pieces she’d collected along the way.

I still wonder about her. Was she fulfilled in her life? Did she want more? Less? Something different? They're questions that I will never know the answers to.

I gave away everything I didn’t plan to use to someone I knew who would. Now, after moving house again, I'm again discovering the lifetime’s accumulation of one woman’s work and thinking how best I can put it to use.

I didn’t know her, but I suspect she would have wanted that.


  1. What a sad but wonderful story. I'd love to see images of done of her treasures. I love vintage sewing bits and bobs. I was fortunate to win some bits and bobs on eBay for beautiful French lace that was owned by a lady who had a shop in Melbourne in the 60's. Real treasure.

  2. So glad you are blogging again. I love this story about Mrs Boyd's sewing things. It was very kind of her husband to pass them on to you. xx

  3. That's such a sad but sweet story. Sounds like her treasures have found the perfect home :)


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