Sewing needles

Forging, smelting, bronze, silver, gold smithing....

Sewing needles

Postby Rebecca Michelsen on September 17th, 2013, 8:33 pm

A friend of mine spent some time yesterday making me some sewing needles to test out. He brought them over this morning, and I cleaned up the one I liked the looks of best and started a new dress :)

These were snipped from 14g steel sheet, and then he repurposed a punch intoa much much much smaller punch to do some of the eye holes. He said he also ground some of them through with a diamond burr on his dremel, and tried one with a teeny tiny drill by hand. Same result as the dremel, just took ages.

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He's working on some in a few other materials - tin, bronze, bone - but wanted me to try out the steel ones right away. Figured I'd show you all, and ask if anyone had any research to share on needles - sizes, materials, techniques for making them, experience making them, etc.

Image

(My apologies for the gigantic image sizes!)
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Rebecca Michelsen
 
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Re: Sewing needles

Postby Becky Watkins Tien on September 19th, 2013, 9:03 am

Cool! I've just been using modern tapestry and chenille needles. Accurate needles are way down on my list of things to find/make.
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Marcus Tullius Cicero
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Re: Sewing needles

Postby Rebecca Michelsen on September 19th, 2013, 6:47 pm

Sewing is one of the demos I do on a consistent basis, so I really wanted more accurate needles, if only to be sure that my stitching was fully plausible. Plus, we both really like to know how something is done. So he makes, I test, we both refine.
It's interesting how little you pay attention to the taper, roundness, and smoothness of your manufactured needles...and then you start working with hand-forged and you suddenly realize that those things are very important! My fish hook sharpening stone (has a V-shaped tapered groove cut into it on one side) became my best friend when trying to get them down to a smoothly workable taper. I asked him if he could try hammering the eye end a little rounder (as opposed to the flat that they mostly are now) and squish the eye hole a touch narrower. So that's slated for the next batch.
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Rebecca Michelsen
 
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My Location: Petoskey, MI, USA
Tribe: Dumnonii
Region: Southwest Britain
Time period: 1st century AD
aka: Senovara

Re: Sewing needles

Postby Dymphy G on December 2nd, 2013, 10:19 am

Has he tried pins yet (you know, that stuf that hold fabric together while sewing)? I've used modern ones for tablet weaving, which kind of look accurate, yet, they are not really the real deal.

I have bone needles, and I'm kind of scared using them, they look so fragile! If your friend gets the needles right, and perhaps even makes some pins to boot, then I would love to purchase them - or trade them for some weavings. ^^
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Re: Sewing needles

Postby Rebecca Michelsen on February 20th, 2014, 6:25 am

I haven't found any documentation at all for the use or manufacture of sewing pins in the Iron Age. The best I could find was conjecture that long, narrow tree thorns may have been used for such a purpose.

I tried my hand at making my own needles shortly after receiving the ones above. Using modern equipment (1" band sander and dremel) they were SUPER fast and pretty easy. As I said before, it's important to be sure that you make them round and smoothly tapered, and I was correct about hammering the eye end flatter after drilling the hole. The needles definitely go through the fabric better once the eye is tapered better, and it was an easy fix.
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Rebecca Michelsen
 
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Tribe: Dumnonii
Region: Southwest Britain
Time period: 1st century AD
aka: Senovara

Re: Sewing needles

Postby Ben Abbott on February 24th, 2014, 8:00 pm

Have you seen the bone needles, like this?: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/hi ... eedle.aspx
-Otuell
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Re: Sewing needles

Postby Rebecca Michelsen on February 24th, 2014, 9:33 pm

I hadn't. Thank you!
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Rebecca Michelsen
 
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Time period: 1st century AD
aka: Senovara

Re: Sewing needles

Postby Raymond Luebke on February 26th, 2014, 9:27 pm

You can do them piece of cake Rebecca
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