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.
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