My Little 'Sypike': A Helping Hand

How many times have I wished I had an extra hand when sewing?  A hand to hold the far end of a seam or a fixed point to tie the end of a braid?  More times than I can count… so I have now made one.

I first saw a sewing aid, called a sypige in Danish (Norwegian: sypike or little seamstress), in this article a few years ago.  It is a small cushion that clamps onto a table, giving a secure place to fasten one end of the work in progress.  A neat enough idea, but something I had mentally filed away the idea for later.


A few days ago I realized I had the perfect raw materials to finally make my own ‘sypike’.  An old wooden umbrella swift I had acquired at a flea market was lacking one of the wooden screws and had a couple of broken slats.  Pretty, but useless for its task.


I started by stripping off the slats and loosening the wooden cup/finial at the top.  I then shortened the shaft and trimmed the diameter a few centimeters from the top edge to make a new tip for fitting the finial.  The finial is cup-shaped, perfect for holding a small cushion.  A fine drill bit quickly made holes around the lip for making a secure attachment for the cushion.  I chose to leave a bit of a shaft below the cup to give enough space to tie on for working braids.

The cushion itself is made of a circle of handwoven cloth and stuffed with carded wool, much like an oversized button.  I backstitched a guideline one centimeter larger than the size of the cup which later allowedmeto attach the cushion with fairly regular tension.  By first sewing the cushion on with some slack, I was able to work my bent needle through the holes.  Yay for period needles!

I have no documentation for this as a historic sewing tool, but it is practical and I had fun making my little sypike.