What Does It Do? A Mysterious Needle-like Tool

This weekend I went nuts spring cleaning. I opened boxes of things that have been packed away for ages, including my husband’s grandmother’s sewing supplies. I found many wonderful things in her sewing basket, including a wooden egg for darning socks, tiny crane scissors, and lots of vintage bias tape. I also found this strange needle, and I have absolutely no idea what it’s for! I could use your help in identifying it, dear CRAFT readers. Can you offer your ideas in the comments. and bonus points if you have an example of something made with a tool like this. Thanks in advance!!!

36 thoughts on “What Does It Do? A Mysterious Needle-like Tool

  1. asmalldharma says:

    Could you give us an idea of how big this thing is?

  2. Jeannie says:

    I think this is a leather awl.

  3. katbaro says:

    Its hard to tell without knowing how big it is but it looks like it could be an eyelet punch.

  4. Brookelynn says:

    It’s 3 inches long, with no moving parts…

  5. beyourownsaviour says:

    I have something almost similar but with a plastic tip for turning inside out corner seams and things (point turner?), but since yours is lacking that tip, it may be just a leather tool or some kind of punch. I’m no expert, though!

  6. enidb says:

    It looks similar to the buttoning device I found in an antique sewing box I ended up with. I can send a pic, but mine looks like the one on the right in this Etsy photo http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=9082689. Mine is 3 1/2 inches. Maybe this will help you figure out its purpose if it’s not actually a buttoning gizmo.

  7. cyndirella107 says:

    Here is the M-W.com definition of “bodkin”:
    1 a : dagger, stiletto b : a sharp slender instrument for making holes in cloth c : an ornamental hairpin shaped like a stiletto
    2 : a blunt needle with a large eye for drawing tape or ribbon through a loop or hem

  8. alison says:

    It’s a yarn needle, for very big yarn?

  9. beyourownsaviour says:

    I thought about it, maybe it’s some kind of weird bodkin- similar to… http://www.needleworkantiques.com/_6978_tortoise_etui_web_3.html

  10. KimberlyA says:

    It looks like an awl to me as well, for punching holes to put in grommets or eyelets.

  11. CraftyRie says:

    It looks like a fancy tool that they used for making rag rugs.

  12. CraftyRie says:

    As soon as I saw it, I immediately thought that it was the tool that was used to make rag rugs & how I wished I had one! So maybe, rag rug making?????????

  13. ann says:

    I think its a stiletto for making the holes in broiderie anglaise, ive seen a few before.

  14. kat says:

    I too inherited one just like it from my grandmother… she always referred to it as a shoe awl and used it to poke holes in leather.

  15. AnneNopper says:

    In my country, we call “furador”. This serve to make holes in the round tire leather that make the wheel foot machine work (it is around the other small wheel in the sewing machine).
    In the extremity of both sides of tire, there are a hole, put toghether with a small metal wire shape like a C.
    I hope help.
    Sorry, but my English is very poor.

  16. Haute Goat says:

    Old sewing machines used to have a STILETTO in their accessory box – this is used to help feed fabric under the presser foot so your finger doesn’t get to close tot he needle (I think some companies called it a “3rd hand”).
    It could also be an AWL for making eyelets. Some buttonholer attachments came with eyelet cams, and cutting tools for cutting the buttonholes open once completed. (You know, the big clunky attachment that you screw onto your sewing machine that has little metal cams you put in to determine the size & style of the buttonhole).
    You can still buy STILLETOs – Clover makes one that looks ergonomic. And of course you can still buy AWLs, although most sewing machines now have built-in buttonholers.

  17. Brookelynn says:

    This is a great thread. I love that none of us have ever used one exactly like it, lol! It just goes to show how so many of the vintage arts and methods are easily replaced by a modern button foot or the crop-a-dile!
    I think the strangest part about this tool is the large and awkward loop in the top. It just doesn’t seem suited for holding, or force. And it’s so wide… All this conversation has me determined to find a project just for this, and demonstrate it’s use!

  18. Cocoonivus says:

    At about 3 inches long, some of the ideas given could be right, such as the awl or stiletto used with a sewing machine.
    Another possibility is that it’s a laying tool. This is used in embroidery to help the threads of each stitch lay smoothly on the surface of your work. Most laying tools are small, pointed, and have a small handle.

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