Sew a Historical “Huswife”

A “housewife”, “huswife” or “hussif” is a small wallet made of fabric and used to store sewing supplies. Today we would call this a sewing kit. “Huswifes” became very popular in the 1700s and were often elaborately embroidered. Many “hussifs” as they were nicknamed as well, were given to soldiers who could store the small item in their haversacks or in other bags. Soldiers as well as sailors or really anybody needed sewing supplies constantly as clothes were mended rather than replaced. “Huswifes” were used throughout the 1800s up until the 1940s. Sewing kits today usually come in cheap plastic boxes, but you can sew your own pretty “housewife” with a bit of leftover fabric and a couple of hours of time. 

Our museum’s collection includes several “housewives”. More information and images of can be viewed here.

The sewing instructions below provides several options to design the sewing purse. This is also a project where you can use hand made tape and cording using the tape loom and lucet.

Sample pictures:

sample with two pockets with flaps and a pin cushion.
Binding with store bought 1/2″ woven cotton tape.
sample with pin cushion, two pockets, one with flap, and store bought 3/8″ binding tape
sample with pincushion, pocket and cording made with a lucet tool to hold scissors
sample with needle flap, a small pocket, a pocket with flap and cording made with a lucet tool
to hold small scissors. Binding tape woven with a tape loom.
sample with pincushion and two pockets, one of them embroidered.
Finished with store bought 3/8″ binding tape.
sample with home made tape with braided ends

Please consider a donation to the Hyland House.