18th Century Sewing Kit

A great thing to do at events is sit and sew!  Period correct activity + getting your hand sewing tasks done – what more could you ask for?  Add to this the endless problem of how to carry around all of your stuff – some of it modern that must be kept out of view – I decided it was time to put some more thought and effort into this.  I have a reproduction sewing box, but it is large and bulky to carry around.  I need something that fits in my carry all basket.

Work Bag, Pin Cushion, and Housewife   Looking around on the internet and Etsy for inspiration, I decided to make a work bag, a pin cushion, and a housewife sewing kit all with the same fabric remnant I bought years ago.  I found it on Ebay – SO SAD I was never able to find any more of it – like an entire bolt for a gown … Lucky for me it matched some silk I already had in the stash.

Nevertheless, I thought it would make a beautiful housewife, which is a sewing kit that folds up.  And is incidentally also good at holding cash, credit cards, and your driver’s license (he he).

The Housewife: has a space for scissors, two pockets, and a needle book.

There are a lot of ways to make these and different options.  Some have a pin cushion built into the housewife but I decided to make mine separately to make it less bulky.  I had a pattern which I adapted, since I wanted at least two pockets and a needle book.  The needle book is just 3 pieces of wool broadcloth trimmed to size with pinking shears and sewn down.  All of the pockets and accessory holders were sewn to the silk lining, then the lining was sewn to the outside cover and turned right sides out, and slip stitched closed.

The only thing I bought are some of the accessories!

Beeswax, Scissors, Bodkin, Stiletto, Tape Measure, and Thimble.

I had the beeswax  – which honestly will probably just be loose in the work bag – and the thimble.  The scissors, bodkin, and stiletto I ordered from Burnley and Trowbridge, the adorable hand labeled tape measure came from Fashionable Frolic on Etsy.

The Tools: Thimble, Tape Measure, Beeswax, Stiletto, Scissors, Bodkin.

What are they you ask?

  • Thimble – put over your finger to prevent the needle from poking holes in your finger.  Happens a lot if you don’t use one.
  • Tape Measure – measuring things, obviously.
  • Beeswax – running the thread through this before sewing helps avoid tangles.
  • Stiletto – for making holes in things.  Specifically, hand made eyelets.
  • Scissors – cutting stuff.
  • Bodkin – for lacing ties through casings, ribbon in insertion lace, etc.

This, plus some needles, a few pins, and a project – are the basics of a hand sewing kit.

Pins – speaking of, here is my matching pin cushion that has an attached ribbon so you can pin it to your apron or skirt.  In the 18th century pins are for more than just sewing.  Women’s clothing was held on primarily through ties and pins.  So you never leave home without extra pins!

And to hold it all, plus cell phone, head phones, car keys, etc is the work bag:

Work bag – just a draw string bag with a lining!

So now I am ready for some hand sewing this weekend!

Work Bag, Pin Cushion, and Housewife

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