Collecting Vintage Needlework Kits

kitsCollecting Vintage Needlework Kits

 Ask any collector about their collection and in all probability, you will receive a

passionate discourse regarding the “whats,” the “whys,” and the “how – tos,” that are

 responsible for the initial awakening of their inner collector. 

 From any point that I can remember, I have loved most forms of needlework in an

 Observatory – isn’t that pretty to look at … I wonder how they did that … I would love to

 create that – manner. In the early 1970’s I received my first crewel embroidery kit.  That

 kit transformed me from an observer of needlework into a participator in needlework. 

 That first kit also awoke the inner collector in me.  Since that awakening, I have been an

enthusiastic amasser of vintage needlework kits.


Needlework collecting enjoys a devoted, but relatively small, audience.  This

 “small but devoted” status currently provides a favorable market that is reasonably

 balanced in affordable supply and demand.  Whether you search on an online global

 market or a local garage sale, you can still find gems that won’t make your wallet cringe. 

 Regardless of where you search, it is helpful to have a mapping set of guidelines that can

 help you navigate the collecting terrain.  As your gain experience in collecting, you will

 also gain expertise. But while you are experiencing the collecting learning curve, here are

 some initial guidelines to map your beginning collection:


 Stick with a price point.  Whether bidding online or perusing a local sale;

 know the comfortable price boundary and stick to it.

 Learn about the designers and manufacturers. There are some names that you will

 see with frequency. These names can be indicators of the kit’s style, era, intricacy and

 difficulty of design, and overall product quality. Depending on their current level of

 production, there are some names that could indicate current and future monetary value.


Question the plans and possibilities with the kit.  Will this kit be created, or

 collected or sold to fuel other purchases?  Can you take some creative license with the

 design and function of this kit?


Be picky when inspecting the kit’s condition.  This is particularly important for

 online purchases.  Regardless of any perceived standard of terminology, (i.e.

 mint, very good …) condition is still subjective  “to the eye” of the observer.  Using the

 kit’s packaging language as a starting guide; begin your inspection..  Has the kit been

 opened.  Are  all of the contents  present as packaged. Determine the condition of the

 thread, fabric and other supplies.  Ascertain the needle’s placement and the presence of

 any metal rust. Occasionally you will find a needle that has become rusted and affixed to

 the design area which could destroy a kit’s usability.  If the kit has been started, assess

 the quality of stitching.  If the stitches need to be removed, make sure that this “de-

 stitching” doesn’t affect the integrity of the fabric.  Inspect the subtle language of the

 package, which will include any tearing, soiling or clouding of the package exterior. This

 exterior damage may indicate that there is also damage to the interior contents.  


 Think “out of the original purpose box.”  Even kits with condition issues can

 occasionally be rescued and repurposed.  Kit contents can also be salvaged

 and repurposed for another kit, or project, or for supply “stash.”


Pay attention to what your nose already knows.  Aromas are great story tellers. 

 While some aromas can dissipate; many aromas will indicate a deeper problem which

 may never resolve.  A good rule of thumb to follow is, “if there is an aroma (including an

 intentional over perfuming) that catches your nose, then there is an issue that needs to

 catch your attention.”


Know when to say “no.”  Even a nicely priced kit is not always a good value. 

 Keep in mind that when you say “no” to an iffy kit, you trust your inner “knowing” that a

 better kit is just around the corner.


This final guideline is probably the most important of all of the mapping techniques. This

 guideline encourages you to make those purchases that to move you from creative

 observer to creative participator. Buy the kits that remind you of the “whos” the “whats”

 and the “whys” that initially stirred up your inner collector and inspired your collecting



WC 709 CPR Karen Glasgow Follett 2014