Wednesday, September 30, 2015

18th century sewing kit or 'housewife' - September HSM Challenge 'Colour Challenge Brown'

For September's  Colour Challenge Brown challenge, I created an 18th century sewing kit or 'housewife' out of leftover silk scraps, with rose burgundy, blue & brown being the main colors! . 

First, the finished sewing kit / 'housewife':
Silk Sewing kit or 'housewife' by TheLadyDetalle

Silk 'housewife' w/ silk ribbon
An 18th century sewing kit has been in the plans for a long time, but I know so little about them. I've seen these sewing kits popping up at Fort Fred (where I picked up a small version a few years ago made of cotton/linen), and more recently someone made one & posted on LJ. So my mom is currently making a bunch of fabric books (a really cool alternative scrap-booking idea), and I asked her to save the scraps from the outer cover fabrics (one of which I gave her to use), and she gave them to me last weekend and so now I made an 18th century sewing kit or 'housewife' using fabric book scrap as a base.

The scrap was a quilted (low slub) silk dupioni in a rose burgundy, and was JUST too pretty to throw away, so based on my small reproduction 18th century sewing kit and a few images I've seen of like  ones, I decided to put one together, making it up as I went.
Cutting the silk dupioni

First, I dug in my leftovers bin, which is basically leftover fabric from finished projects, and came up with a few pieces to use.
The outside (fashion) of the sewing kit is the rose burgundy quilted silk scrap mentioned above, and the inside I lined with a leftover piece from a reproduction muff for sale in my etsy store, a blue silk dupioni with embroidered wheat (in brown silk).

This was a really quick little project, basically cutting out a piece that is 5 1/4" X 17" in the rose burgundy quilted silk and then the same in lining (blue embroidered wheat silk), pinning and hand sewing on the rose silk bias binding all around, in order to finish the main piece.
Pinning & sewing binding - lining side
Then I added all the various little pieces that make up the needle holder, a pocket, a band (to hold in thread) and more. It was a lot of fun and quick to put together, and I Google'd to get a few image ideas of what to include inside.

I also dug around for a very small piece of blush colored silk dupioni (leftover from my 18th century riding habit waistcoat) for a pocket, a few small scraps of coutil from my Regency stays (for needles), and some brown gold dupioni from my yard sale find silks for binding, as well as some silk ribbon. I also made bias binding for the fashion fabric/front/back of the sewing kit from a small amount of rose burgundy dupioni from my stash (silk sale earlier this year which matched almost perfectly, yay).

Adding the sewing kit pieces
A fun, quick little historical sewing project that incorporated the challenge color BROWN, used stash scraps and from which I learned a bit more about historical sewing kit/'housewives'.

Historical Sew Monthly SEPTEMBER challenge:

The Challenge: Colour Challenge Brown: it’s not the most exciting colour by modern standards, but brown has been one of the most common, and popular, colours throughout history. Make something brown.

An 18th century sewing kit or 'housewife' made of rose burgundy quilted silk dupioni, and lined with blue embroidered with brown wheat silk dupioni, with touches of brown gold & blush finishes.

Fabric: Small scrap of rose burgundy quilted silk dupioni (from mom), small scrap of blue embroidered with brown wheat silk dupioni (from a muff I made previously), bias binding from rose burgundy silk dupioni stash fabric, pocket from blush silk dupioni (from JoAnn's leftover from my late 18th century riding habit waistcoat), white coutil (from 96th District Fabrics leftover from my Regency stays), and some small pieces of brown gold silk dupioni (from yard sale find).

Pattern: No pattern. This came entirely from past experiences in looking/handling small reproduction versions and seeing images online. I guessed at the sizing and details, and used Google to confirm some general images of 'housewives.'

Year: 18th century - going for late 18th century

Notions: Silk ribbon & then small sewing accessories just to show how they fit

How historically accurate is it? It's a reproduction 18th century sewing kit ('housewife') out of close to period appropriate fabrics (silk dupioni is not quite period, but it's low slub quilted and embroidered dupioni, so hard to tell).

Hours to complete: about 4-5 hours total.

First worn: Not worn, will be taken with me and used when I re-enact sewing or want to bring along to an event and sew.

Total cost: Almost nothing. All stash (except the quilted scraps from my mom) and all small leftover pieces from other projects, so I felt very thrifty, which is I'm sure how they made theirs & felt also!
Silk 'housewife' by TheLadyDetalle
Next up is October - Sewing Secrets


  1. A very pretty 18th. c. silk housewife. I've also sewn a cotton hussif/ housewife: They're really useful, even today, to carry pins, scissors, etc. if one wants to sew in the garden. :)

    1. Aw, thanks! I really enjoyed making it/figuring out how to put one together. Thanks for the link, I'll check yours out too. Oooo, sew the garden, that sounds awesome and relaxing :).