Asked on Nov 14, 2013

Can you tell me what this is?

Elaine Simmons
by Elaine Simmons
This was in my grandmother's sewing things and I imagine about 120 years old. Does anyone have any idea what it was used for. It is metal and there is a small hole at the end. It is 3 inches long at it's longest point and 2-1/4 inches in circumference at it's widest point. No writing on the outside. My grandmother both sewed and crocheted if that helps.
q can you tell me what this is, repurposing upcycling
  73 answers
  • Bonnie S Bonnie S on Nov 14, 2013
    I have a rug making kit and that looks like one of the pieces in my kit. You take long strips of fabric and put it through the big end and out the small end. It rolls the material into long rope like pieces that you sew into a rug.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 14, 2013
    That explains a lot since my grandmother made a lot of rugs. But........the hole is so small......about the size of a toothpick. Is yours that small?

    • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Nov 15, 2013
      @Elaine Simmons I've seen my Great Aunt make rag circle rugs using one of these. And yes the strips were very narrow. Amazing.....

  • Maureen Walker Maureen Walker on Nov 15, 2013
    Have no actual knowledge of this implement but it's fun to do a little divergent thinking! How about using it to fill lavender sachets? No! Hole too small. Or to fill pin cushions with rice or sand? Wd work with sand but hole too small for rice. Sounds great, though, for transforming fabrics into a kind of yarn, as per Bonnie S, above. Then you could braid or crochet traditional rugs. Family treasure!

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 15, 2013
    Here is the end of the funnel with a hole. It is only 1/8 inch across.

  • Dee Cain Dee Cain on Nov 15, 2013
    Perhaps it was to help keep wool from knotting as they worked on projects.

  • JeDonne M JeDonne M on Nov 16, 2013
    There used to be a similar item in my mom's sewing supplies, she made her own piping for her sewing projects.

  • Doreen Nestell Doreen Nestell on Nov 16, 2013
    A hem roller yes to make piping and rugs.

  • Rosalyn Harwood Rosalyn Harwood on Nov 16, 2013
    you could also use it to put beads into bottles...

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    The piping thing sounds good but I can't see how that could work. She used to make braided rugs but the strips were wide, probably about an inch to two inches wide. My guess I would think is that it might be string or strong thread to go through it to keep it from knotting. I remember that the thread she used was about that thickness for rugs. I have three other metal things that were in her supplies that I don't know the name of but I know what they do. They fold the fabric into itself when you push it through and then it is maybe ironed? and then it is sewn into the rug as you go.

    • @Elaine Simmons The metal things you mention that fold the fabric sound like bias tape makers which is used to bind the edges of fabric. The cone shaped tool looks to me like something you would use to make narrow strips of fabric into a yarn of sorts, making it easier to crochet with. I would think that a narrow (1" or less) strip of thin cotton fabric or 'homespun' would easily fit through the small opening. Once crocheted, it could then be sewn together to make rugs.

  • Irish53 Irish53 on Nov 16, 2013
    yes Dee you are right. It was used to keep the string from knotting. If you see on a braided rug it is joined together with a thin string.

  • Grace Smith Grace Smith on Nov 16, 2013
    I wonder if it could be a tussy-mussy, a little metal container that ladies could carry their flowers in while promenading?

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    Lynn, yes, as I said I thought the three things were to make the fabric fold.......I remember seeing her use those. That is why the most plausible answer to me is that she put the heavy string through it to keep it from knotting. I really appreciate all your answers

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    I think Dee should win the prize.......if there were one LOL!

  • Marion Tinney Marion Tinney on Nov 16, 2013
    When you sew something that has to be turned right side out, you need something to push out the corners to make then pointed. I think this would work well.

  • Cindy Spencer Cindy Spencer on Nov 16, 2013
    It looks like an old funnel to me.

  • Jean M Jean M on Nov 16, 2013
    Looks like something I have seen in fabric stores for making your own bias tape.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    The powers that we made me post if my question was answered yet. But I wanted to post this at least. When some of you talked about bias binders, I have her set of those and pictured beside it is my bias binder. I remember the three binder hanging off the strips of fabric so I think they folded the fabric, much like a bias binder does today. So as I said, I think the most plausible answer is to use it for thread running through to keep from knotting. Here is a pic of the binders.

  • Janet Roop Janet Roop on Nov 16, 2013
    Darning socks would be my guess

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 16, 2013
    How would you use it to darn socks? That does not make sense to me. I have darned socks before( I must have been crazy to go to that much work lol) and although I didn't use the tool they did which was a wooden thing shaped like a light bulb, I used a light bulb so don't see how this can fit in.

  • Carole Carole on Nov 16, 2013
    It looks like it belongs in the kitchen. A piping nozzle that sits in the base of a piping bag for icing cakes, piping choux pastry to make chocolate eclairs and so on. They would come in many different sizes.

  • Montserrat Vega Montserrat Vega on Nov 16, 2013
    Es un cono para hacer dulces. Se le da mantequilla para que la masa de hojaldre no se pegue y se mete en el horno. Cuando están terminado se rellena con crema pastelera o nata

  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Nov 16, 2013
    Maybe to oil the sewing machine?

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 17, 2013
    Well that LOOKS like it exactly but of course mine is all rusty. Since Montserrat reply was in Spanish and I am sorry to say, I don't speak it I had to go to and click on the translator. My grandma was German but I suppose she was not the only nationality to use this. Translated, this is what Montserrat said. Montserrat VegaEs a cone to make candy. You will be given butter for that the dough does not stick and put it in the oven. When they are finished is filled with pastry cream or cream

  • GrandmaCarol Speight GrandmaCarol Speight on Nov 17, 2013
    NOW that you have us all "all-flutter" waiting for the true answer.....Ever thought of asking at an genuine old antique store?.....lolol

  • Carole Crawford-Evon Carole Crawford-Evon on Nov 17, 2013
    It's used as a funnel to fill objects like pincushions.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 17, 2013
    No, I haven't Grandma Carol.........there are none around where I live and it is something I never gave much thought to but after we moved and I was going through my sewing things, my curiosity got the best of me. I thought I would have an answer immediately! I really think Monstserrat Vega might be right. Mine looks exactly like the ones she has pictured. Montserrat Vega, do you have a recipe to make those sweets?

  • Rose Lineberry Rose Lineberry on Nov 17, 2013
    My mother had one she used for years to make rag rugs. Old dresses, shirts, etc. were torn into strips and fed into the wide end and twisted as she pulled them from the other end but she had three of them and braided the strips as they were twisted and then she sewed them into circles or ovals.

  • King's Kid King's Kid on Nov 17, 2013
    I have used metal tubes cannolli made to bake dough, and the picture from @ Montserrat looks like mine, only mine are about 5 "long, and tube shaped, as I said. Got them at a restaurant supply store.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 17, 2013
    I think it is an item to make sweets. A woman on HGTV said you could still buy them and gave me a link. Rose, I have those for making rag rugs too. I know what they are and have my grandma's but this item is different than the picture I am posting. This shows the braiders and along side it is my bias maker which is basically the same thing.

  • Lisa Lisa on Nov 17, 2013
    I agree with @Rose Lineberry - It's used to make rag rugs. you can buy one from this website:

  • Gail lichtsinn Gail lichtsinn on Nov 18, 2013
    rose lineberry that is exactly what it was used for with material or yarn...People who finger weave sometimes use these..It keeps the torn strips the same size and even..Its like a bobin

  • Becky Arneth Becky Arneth on Nov 18, 2013
    I think it is something that would be used to make a crisp point on an item being sewn....Like the corner of a pillow, or when making a collar.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 18, 2013
    Lisa and Gail, if you would both look at the picture I posted in my last reply, I HAVE those braiders. This item is different from them. With the braiders I remember seeing her use them so I know what they are. It was this single item I did not know. I still think Monseratt Vega found the item. It looks EXACTLY like them. Only I just have one. I asked on the quilting board at HGTV and someone posted a pic that was in a link that was exactly like them. They were used for wrapping tiny strips of dough around and then baked. Then they are filled with whipped cream. They were very reasonable, like 6 for $2 and something. Since it was in my grandma's sewing stuff I think she repurposed it for sewing somehow.

    • Kathryn Botard Kathryn Botard on Nov 18, 2013
      @Elaine Simmons I'm so glad you found an answer. Cool. Maybe she put it in her sewing basket so she wouldn't lose it? Either way, it's great you found out what it is.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 18, 2013
    Here is the link of the picture of them. I just might buy them. Would be fun to make these. There is even a recipe included. posted Nov 17, 2013 09:27 AMHide Post They still make those. They are used in a lot of Italian cookies and pastry. But in her sewing box? I think she found another use for it.

  • Debra Debra on Nov 18, 2013
    It looks like a item my great Aunts had when they braided rugs out of scrap material. My Mom had some of these also.

  • Debbi' Adams Debbi' Adams on Nov 19, 2013
    it is a thread funnel. roll your yarn or thread and run it thru the hole at the end of the funnel and it keeps your yarn/thread from knotting.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 19, 2013
    Are you absolutely sure of this? It makes sense since it was in her sewing things but the Spanish speaking lady pictured some that were identical. Another person had a link to a place that sold them for use in the kitchen also.

    • Pati Waggoner-Gulat Pati Waggoner-Gulat on Dec 05, 2013
      It's a thread funnel. My momma has one EXACTLY like this and she used it for crocheting and knitting altho you can also use it for making corners...My momma is 77 and probably got it from her grandmother...

  • Jean M Jean M on Nov 19, 2013
    I am not 100% sure but it looks sorta like what I saw to make your own bias tape on some other site. I have also seen something like this for making canolis but I wouldn't think it would be in with sewing things. Maybe do a search on line and type in item used for making own bias and see what comes up.

  • Jean M Jean M on Nov 19, 2013
    Well, I checked it out and I don't really know now. What I saw when I pulled it up was the item that looks like what is shown in the comments above about eight up. This may be an old timey version.

  • Jean M Jean M on Nov 19, 2013
    I think it is what Debbi Adams said it is now. I can see how that would be great to keep your yarn from knotting.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 19, 2013
    If you would check back in my post, you will see that I posted a pic of bias tape makers and of rug braiders. It is NOT that. Either it is something my grandmother used to run a thread through to keep from knotting or it is to use in the kitchen.

  • Jaclyn Thompson Jaclyn Thompson on Nov 19, 2013
    Heh I was going to guess .. Something you use to push corners of materials out to make it square & pointy!!!

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 20, 2013
    No, someone already guessed that.

  • Maureen S Maureen S on Nov 24, 2013
    it is used to make cannoli shells, for pastry.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 24, 2013
    I think so too Maureen although my grandmother was not Italian at all, but German!

  • Jeanine Hurtt Jeanine Hurtt on Nov 24, 2013
    i believe it would be a tool for spinning cotton

  • Joellen Joellen on Nov 25, 2013
    I think it is a called a threadle or threttle.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 25, 2013
    I looked up threadle and it is a lever used on a sewing machine. I couldn't find anything on threttle.

  • Somdlady Somdlady on Nov 27, 2013
    It really looks like a tobacco spear. They put this on end of the sticks and would spear the tobacco stalks on them. Your grandmother may have found another use and repurposed this for sewing.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 27, 2013
    I doubt that it is a tobacco spear as my grandmother lived in rural Iowa all her life and they do not grow tobacco there. Thanks for your input anyway.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Nov 28, 2013
    I am not angry, I was just suggesting people read the other comments before they commented on what they thought it was. I am sorry it came across that way.

  • Angie Jenkins Angie Jenkins on Dec 05, 2013
    looks like a small funnel to put oil into a sewing machine

  • Julie Wilusz Julie Wilusz on Dec 05, 2013
    I don't know how your grandmother got it in her sewing supplies, but it's a form to make pastries....cone shaped, similar to cannoli, but can't think of the name of them just now....

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Dec 05, 2013
    Julie, so far I have had several opinions and the person who posted that it was a cannoli cone posted a link that looks exactly like it. On the other hand several are sure that it was used for the thread to go through when she made rugs or when she crocheted to keep it from knotting. So maybe I will never know for sure! If I ever get to an antique store, I will ask.

  • Tami Tami on Dec 05, 2013
    My guess is that it's a corner pusher-outer thimble thingy. :) You could put it on your finger like a thimble but use the pointed end to open out corners on things like pillows.

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Dec 05, 2013
    My grandmother didn't do a lot of sewing that I remember. It was mostly crocheting and making the braided rugs.

    • Sar369102 Sar369102 on Jul 08, 2014
      @Elaine Simmons That's what it is used to keep the strips of fabric curled as you braid your rug. I haven't been able to find any in a long time. When I was taught, after you made your strips and had them all rolled up in large balls, you would start your braid section by folding 2-3 inches of the strip in half (lengthwise) and bring the raw edge of each side to the middle (I ironed mine to hold the fold) then cut the end to make a point. Once inserted the cone would continue the fold as you pulled the cone along the strip of fabric. I had a set of 3. Find a web site about antique braided rugs and you might be able to see more examples. I had another set that made the folds for me, so I lost the old set. Hoped this helped.

  • Mssmatch Mssmatch on Dec 08, 2013
    there are lots of things it could be used for, I use something similar for darning socks but I hope someone will know its true purpose. I can see how it could be used to make braided rugs, too,

  • K. C K. C on Dec 08, 2013
    Ice cream cone for Fairies?

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Dec 09, 2013
    That is a possibility! I guess you meant cones!

  • Joedean Small Joedean Small on Jul 08, 2014
    I think a corner pusher outer is it.

  • Kay M. Kay M. on Oct 28, 2014
    I'm wondering if it is for making those cones that held Tussy Mussies in Victorian days. They were often made from a doily that was starched in that cone shape. ??

    • Susan  M Jensen Susan M Jensen on Jul 05, 2015
      @Kay M. Im leading towards your answer. My 91 yr old hubby did not know. Said was busy outsidenot watching his Mother having Fun, Hahah

  • Elaine Simmons Elaine Simmons on Oct 28, 2014
    It is a possibility.........thanx.

  • Linda Fraser Linda Fraser on Jan 26, 2015
    I think it's a bias tape maker

    • Dee Dee on Dec 20, 2016
      I'm with you, I have some attachments for my machine that look similar, and they are for bias tape.

  • J J on Dec 09, 2016
    It is for preparing your fabric for making braided rugs.

  • Rachael Rachael on Dec 12, 2016
    you make cream horns with this.

  • Mssmatch Mssmatch on Dec 13, 2016
    please take a picture of the other end...

  • Joanie Joanie on Dec 13, 2016
    Maybe it was found in her sewing room, but maybe it was is a funnel of some sort, I'm just dumbfounded??????????

  • Renata Renata on Dec 13, 2016
    Yes , I believe it is a corner pusher outer .

    • Fiona Fiona on Jan 07, 2017

      It is for making cream horns, you wrap thin pieces of pastry round the horn as simply as that

  • Oberlinmom Oberlinmom on Dec 13, 2016
    I'm thinking your grandmother multitasked this tool. It may have been a kitchen item but she found a use for it while sewing or making rugs. It may just have been a found object she put to use in her sewing room.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Sep 03, 2017
    If the hole is only 1/8" then it could very likely have been used to make lengths of 1/8" wide tubing, used for knitting up into larger or bulky items such as mats. Remnants were first cut into strips 4 x the width (1/2 inch) then fed through the metal funnel to make it roll into itself, making the tight narrow tubes.

  • Sharon Sharon on Sep 03, 2017
    They also used metal horns like that as hearing aids back many years ago.