Needlework Tool Collectors               HISTORY                 


The Needlework Tool Collectors Society of Australia
(NTCSA) began in 1987 in Melbourne, growing from the enthusiasm and interests of two sisters, Katrina and Jenny, who gathered together their friends and fellow collectors to form the Society. When traveling interstate, they would arrange to have afternoon tea with other collectors, inviting them to join. As numbers grew, it became possible to hold larger events, the first of which was a Conference (then called The Corroboree to give it an Australian flavour), and has been held continuously every second year - the Conference in 2018 was our Fifteenth Biennial Conference. The rest is, as they say, history!  
Another person who contributed to the growth in other States was Nerylla Taunton.
Nerylla's name is well known to the many who knew her, and to many others worldwide from her wonderful publications that have become leading References works - Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries (1997) and Chatelaines: Utility to Glorious Extravagance( (1994) which she co-authored with Genevieve Cummins.  
Now, more than 30 years later, many others who share their delight have made it a Society
that reaches beyond its original geographic foundation and has members around Australia, in New Zealand, in the USA, in Europe and in the UK. All share an interest in needlework tools and other associated areas that may have lead them to this field. Among us you'll find embroiderers, lace makers, costumiers, history lovers, writers, and collectors who enjoy other interests such as china, Christmas, silver - you name it, and someone likely has a collection in that area.

Members' needlework tool interests cover a wide range that includes antique, vintage, modern and handmade needlework tools. Some years ago, a series of
six postcards were produced and made available to NTCSA members. One is above and four are below, leaving the elusive sixth one still to track down and post later.


Here's some information on our previous CONFERENCES:   

2018 CONFERENCE in Sydney, Australia

Lee Bateman - A Spring Collection
Marlene Arditto - Shuttles for Knotting and Tatting
Maria Richards - Floral Feed Sacks, a Revolution
Anne Harbers - Silver in Motion: Amazing Automatons
The Cavalcade of History and Fashion - Bustle to Bias Brides: 1880-1940
Lynda Wake - Boudoir Dolls of the Art Deco Era
Susan Webster - Silver Needlework Tools by Webster & Co.
Kerry Easton - Palace Intrigues and Needlework Tools
Paul Brunton AM - After Dinner Speaker. Paul is Emeritus Curator at the State Library of NSW, and will speak on
 The vivid, shrewd and witty letters of Rachel Henning.
Rachel Henning wrote about colonial life in Queensland and New South Wales, 1853 to 1914 

October is Springtime in Australia, and the theme suited the Season, calling it  'Spring into Needlework Tools'  
Think about Spring flowers on Needlework Tools, and Spring colours in Needlework tools,
and even Needlework tools with Springs
in them! (for example, the sewing birds below have Springs)


Plus the Conference Dinner, the souvenir Goodie Bags, and the very popular SALES MALL on the Sunday.
There will also be book signings by our own talented members Susan Webster and Nicola Kissane, both producing new books in 2017.
Don't forget about the competition for a handcrafted Spring Hat Sewing Accessory, a chance to make your fellow members wonder
"Why didn't I think of that?".
Entry to the Conference and Sales Mall is by  PRE-PAID TICKET, available to both Members and non-members (surcharge for non-members applies). See the Booking form above.

The October 2018 Conference in Sydney is over, and was wonderful. If you're curious about how it all happens, the 2018 Conference Information Form is here and the 2018 Conference Booking Form here

...then there are the wonderful prizes to be won at the Conference such as a lovely English Lady's Companion in red leather with gilt decoration c1850. This beautiful mid-19th Century piece has silver tools inside - scissors, a delicate penknife, winding pencil, stiletto, tape measure with silk tape, silver thimble, plus a leather needlecase with tabs to hold two tools, and a noteboard. The thimble support post lifts out to reveal space for pins or a thread reel. 


                              (above right) Our new Lapel Pin, in Sterling Silver. 

was in Melbourne, Australia at The Parkview Hotel on the 15th-16th October 2016                    
Held over a weekend, the 14th Biennial Conference started on Saturday morning with Conference registration.
             The theme was 'Measures'.  

                                                                      THE PROGRAMME                                                                                     Speakers and their Topics:
                                 Dixie Ann Middleton - The Champion Embroiderers
                                     Terry Meinke
- Avery Needle Cases - Part One and Two
                       Nicole Jenkins - Measurement – Garment Sizing
                          Nicola Kissane
History of Tasmanian Stitchery
           Susan Webster
- Australian Measures   
              After Dinner Speaker:
Michele Hill William Morris
Pictured below is just some of the fun --
Lovely gifts from T.O.N.I., our logo on fingernails, a significant birthday, the sale-of-work table, and a few pictures from the Conference dinner.



in Sydney, Australia
at The Harbourview Hotel
Blue Street, North Sydney, NSW
October 25-26 2014
Entry by Pre-paid Ticket only
Held over a weekend, the Conference actually starts on Friday afternoon with

Conference registration 5-6pm, and an informal dinner in the evening.

Then, coffee and tea are available Saturday and Sunday morning when the

Registration desk opens at 8:00am.
 What was on the Programme?
Speakers and their Topics:
Gay Hendriksen – Not Everything She Seams

Susan Webster – Luxury Knitting Goods

Marlene Arditto – Jewels in the Crown: Workboxes from India and Ceylon

Judith Rutherford – Chinese Textiles and Embroidery Tools
of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911)
Sue Gowan – Charles Iles Thimbles

Kerry Easton – Heather Joynes OAM, Embroiderer Extraordinaire

Helen Parsons – The Art of Tambour Work

Christine Johnson – Lace: Its History and Tools
 Early Bird rewards; the Conference Dinner on Saturday evening, with Claudia
Chan Shaw
as the After Dinner Speaker; the Sales Mall on Sunday. 

Commemorative Conference piece for 2014 - a pewter stiletto featuring a
Waratah (the NSW state flower). Plus, it's the 21st Birthday for the NSW group!
Attendance at the Conference is open to members, and also non-members who can
join when booking (keeps our society's Insurance simple).

 Before, non-members paid a higher fee, and were offered optional membership.
Now, you just become a member and pay for the Conference as a member. Simple!
Download a Membership Application form as a pdf,

or contact us and we can send you one. Joining up for the Conference also

means you get the newsletters and other offerings for a whole year.  
If you need more information, please contact
webmaster (at)  
The NTCSA Membership fees (annual, valid to end of June each year) are:

Australia $30; Family Membership $50. Overseas (in $AU) $50
Special prices are available at the selected Hotel for conference attendees. When
making your reservation, please quote Needlework Tools Collectors Conference.
BOOK EARLY to make sure you can reserve a
room at this rate -- October is a very busy month!


The 'Wigwam' etui (above) was a major part of the fun at the Conference. The opaline glass
 egg opens to display ormolu needlework tools inside. From the Palais Royal c1870, the egg
sits in a gilded wire nest; the framework surrounding it gives the description 'wigwam' to the
etui; there are gilded ivy leaves twining around it. 


Milward Fan needlecase c1870  
The NTCSA's 12th Biennial Conference was held in Melbourne, Australia
on 21-22 July 2012 at the Parkview Hotel, St Kilda Rd, Melbourne.
It was the Society's 25th Anniversary, so the theme was

Read about it on this page plus you can download more information as a pdf here

The Program at the 2012 Conference was:
17th Century Stumpwork and Related Tools

Development of Scissoroos and thimbles with an Australian flavour
Adventures in 40 years of organising needlework events and activities

Dutch and European Needlework Tools
The Jewel of the Cabinet-makers' Art - Three Centuries of Worktables

The Australian Dress Register

18th Century "Toys"

Jane Austen's Sewing Box/Georgian Times
Our After Dinner speaker on the Saturday evening was Kevin Murray, who brought
our Silver Anniversary theme to gleaming life with his talk on English, Irish and
Scottish Silver.
The souvenir ‘Goodies bag’ for each attendee is always one of the delights of the
Conferences, and superb raffles of sewing accessories and other items were a
highlight. Adding to the mix, and the fun, were guessing competitions and a Lucky
Dip. The 2012 Conference Commemorative item was a turned timber pincushion.



This replica of the Sydney Harbour Bridge scissors was at the  
in Sydney, 23-24 October 2010
at the Harbourview Hotel, Blue Street, North Sydney  
Programs are diverse and offer a variety of speakers and subjects which cater for the many
varied interests of our Society’s members.
  The Program at the 2010 Conference was:  
Saturday 23rd October
Conservation of needlework tools

A journey through a special dolls’ house

Needlework Tools in Western Art
A special presentation by The Cavalcade of History and Fashion

Australian Thimbles

Ancient Thimbles
Sunday 24th October

Sales mall
Demonstrations of needlework tools in use

Raffle draw

Irish Crochet

Charles Horner
 The Changi Quilt
Sewing Birds
The Conference Dinner on Saturday evening was delighted to have Susannah Fullerton
as the After Dinner speaker on the subject of ‘Literary Travellers in Australia’.
A souvenir ‘Goodies bag’ for each attendee is one of the delights of the Conferences, as
are raffles of sewing paraphernalia, and the Conference Commemorative item in 2010 was a
copper thread holder in the shape of the Harbour Bridge.

( check back soon )