My weakness for beautiful tools was sorely tested these past few days, and I finally succumbed to the charms of these vintage needlework treasures. The objets of my desire were lovely tools for sewing, stitching and lacemaking from a French company called Sajou. Maison Sajou was founded in 1828 and was well known as a provider of threads, needles and finely crafted scissors for what is called Ouvrages de Dames, or “Ladies’ Work” until the early part of the 20th century, when it fell into decline. The woman responsible for restoring the House of Sajou to its former glory is a designer, collector and connoisseur of vintage mercerie (haberdashery) named Frederique Crestin-Billet. She had the foresight to relaunch the Sajou brand with the idea of keeping the artisan workshops who make fine scissors, threads and needlework accessories alive. She has teamed with the last remaining thread manufacturer in France to offer a full range of threads, patterns and tools for the needleworker, all chosen for their utility and beauty. French. Utility. Beauty. Revitalizing artisans. What’s not to like?
At Sajou, everything you might want for hemming your sleeve or sewing on a lost button has been rendered into an exquisite or amusing sewing object. You can practice a running stitch with needles in their fancy Art Nouveau folders, or store pins in a finely constructed tiny hinged wooden box marked Pins and Needles (in French, of course). Everything is a faithful reproduction of a French original and everything is made in France.
One of their specialty items are thread holders, which are flat shaped disks with notches or “spokes” that were used for winding thread for storage. Thread cards were designed and printed with themes that range from the Eiffel Tower to inspirations from hats, wallpaper and old seed packets. The cards are charming and collectible.
The piece de resistance of the Sajou collection are their selection of sewing boxes. These are meticulously constructed boxes in two layers with sections to hold various notions and all finished in blue and white figured paper. The tools and notions are nearly everything you need to keep yourself neatly together. They feature thimbles, scissors, seam rippers and a selection of threads, thread cards, needles and other items that make hand sewing a real pleasure. We are setting up links to be able to acquire some of these treasures for your own sewing box or give as a gift to a favorite needleworker. Watch for our next post about Sajou as we explore the steps it takes to make an heirloom quality pair of embroidery scissors.