End of an era for needlework shops?…..

Found in one of my 1930’s magazines


I was wandering through some of my magazines ready to write Tuesdays Blog post and I found this picture for which I couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sadness at it’s account of the thriving needlework shops of the past.

I have to confess the night before I had watched about the closure of yet another independent business who had closed its doors after 40 years and as a retailer and past needlework shop owner myself, I know first hand how hard it is to sell on the High Street and the irony that closing my doors and turning to the internet was the best possible thing I ever did.

I’m not really sure how many shops would have afforded to keep such and array of threads in stock and the beautifully coiffured assistant and rather well to do client  probably don’t represent the popularity of needlework in those days which spread across the social spectrum. None the less it portrays the scene of a more leisurely time when one could take pleasure in choosing their materials in person.

Of course the feminists will say this is a view of feminine repression where women  had little more to do than cook, clean and sew ; of a time before they could pursue a career and talk about far more ‘important’ things. There is no doubt that the internet does bring likeminded people together to share their work and tips and every international sale, even after 3 years still thrills me. Austerity has brought back many of the nostalgic arts and social media and the revival of television programmes about crafts and vintage interiors have seen an explosion of interest in embroidery and many thousands of newcomers picking up the needle. Indeed as I sat sewing in front of a TV craft channel on Sunday it wasn’t without a twinge of envy that the total sales of kits the presenter was demonstrating had amounted to 18,000 and rising!

Perhaps it is the nostalgia that embroidery invokes, or my love of the past. I’m not a technophobe by any means and love the internet for the great good I think it has done our art. Perhaps I am just plain old fashioned  for there is a joy at speaking to real ‘live’ customers on the phone and hearing the voices that once would have physically walked into a shop.



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  1. Judy Eberharter


    I share your sadness about the closure of the needlework shops. I have to order most of my supplies from Amazon because the nearest shop is over an hour away and they don’t have much for hand embroidery. I consider myself a feminist and I wouldn’t consider needlework a symbol of repression at all. The feminists I know believe that all people should have balance in their lives, be able to work if they choose and fill their free time with meaningful activities. Working so many hours that you don’t have time for hobbies isn’t what anyone wants, I don’t think. Too bad it seems to be the trend here in the U.S. 🙁

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