Friday, February 11, 2011

Family heirloom repurposed

Last week my mother bequeathed a fine family heirloom to me. Well, maybe it's heirloom status is debatable, and it doesn't have much monetary value... but it has special meaning to me. It was always an item of interest when I was a young child, and it's one of those odd things that reminds me of the simpler times of childhood.

My mother is a pretty crafty lady. She primarily crochets afghans and scarves these days, but she is quite a seamstress. She went through a phase about ten years ago when she made pillows like crazy. I have a few fishing themed pillows and a matching quilt as products of that phase. Back when I was in high school, she made a couple dozen pairs of custom boxer shorts for me- mostly wildlife prints. I still have one pair... with African Elephants on them. They don't fit like they used to... actually they hardly fit at all. I've kept them for sentimentality. I really don't know how they survived- most of the others I wore until they practically fell apart. Some of mom's handiwork... sorry, I'm not modeling...

The tag reads "Made with love by Mom"

In the early '70s, before I was born, my mom did a lot more sewing. She hand made most of the clothes my older sisters wore. Of course, that was back before you could buy cheaply made imported clothes from places like Old Navy... and outfit yourself for an entire season for under $50. It's crazy that you can actually buy clothes cheaper than you can make your own today. Nobody sews clothes out of necessity or as an economical choice anymore. Sewing has pretty much become a novelty type of hobby.

My mother still has a nice sewing machine and sews occasionally, but she's definitely doing a lot less than she once did. She mostly hems pants and does other alterations for family members who ask nicely.

The recent decline in sewing activity led her to the decision that she no longer needed her wooden sewing organizer. This is something my mother has had for over forty years... longer than I've been alive. She asked if I'd like to have it. I think she knew I could repurpose it for fly tying materials, and I gladly took her up on her offer.

I thought the fold out trays were just the coolest thing ever when I was a kid, and I guess in a way I still do. The carpentry is actually really nice for a mass produced type of item. They don't make 'em like they used to. As a matter of fact, if "they" were to make one today... it would be made of plastic... in China.

The organizer has the following identifying label on it:

Read "Not Made in China"

After I brought it home, I searched for more information online and looked to see if anyone was selling one like it on Ebay. Indeed, there are a few out there, and they're pretty reasonably priced. They seemed to be prized among sewing hobbyists, but I suspect there aren't too many that have been filled with feathers, fur, and hooks. Maybe other fly tyers will take notice of how useful they might be for organizing all (or at least some) of their fly tying junk materials.


  1. Jay ~ This is one of your coolest me anyway! How cool to have an heirloom from your mom. This brought back memories for me with my sewing days...that faded like ten years ago! I used to be talented like that...haha. And I even had a similar sewing chest similar to this one. And now I don't even know where it have me thinking! hmmm

  2. Absolutely cool. If I had room for one more thing in, on or near my tying desk, this would be it. Good on you Jay.

  3. RD, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm sure if you were talented once before, you might still be... maybe you could apply your talents toward fly tying? Good luck finding your sewing chest. When you find it, promptly fill it with feathers, fur, hooks, and fly tying thread. Hint, hint.

    Cofisher, I think it's pretty cool too. I can't quite fit all of my junk in it, and it's not really organized yet. But I was able to empty four plastic shoe boxes into it which made me pretty happy.

  4. What a nice way to always remember mom.
    Well done Jay.

  5. You're not thinking of carrying a purse to are you?

  6. Purse? Depends on whether I could repurpose one for fly fishing... but I thought you liked it Howard, are you now suggesting it's a bit "girly"?

  7. I like that a lot. And I didn't mean the elephant boxers...

    BTW - Love me a nice fishing purse.

  8. Great stuff Jay- I have very little in the way of heirlooms. I have one old ratty glass fly rod from my grandfather who taught me to fly fish. Your stuff is always interesting.