Sunday, November 1, 2015

New Project - Blue & White Housewife

I've been meaning to make myself a historically-accurate sewing kit for quite a while now.  It's become quite necessary, as evidenced by the number of times I've ended up sewing in public while in period dress:


Lately I've been using this little basket, which works fine:

But it's a little bulky to carry around, it doesn't fit in my reticule, and it has no divisions to keep things neatly in place.  A simple fabric housewife solves all of these problems, and is perfectly historical!

Winterthur Museum
Victoria & Albert Museum
Museum of Fine Arts - Boston
I found a great tutorial on Pinterest, and modified it to my preferences.

First I pieced the outer layer, using scraps from the first two gowns I made for Colonial Williamsburg last year, when I was working at the Costume Design Center.  I kept the extra length that I cut off the hems of both gowns, because I'm sentimental.  I felt this project was a good use of these long strips that were straight-of-grain along one edge and angled on the other: 

I sewed them all by hand, partially because I wanted a really authentic housewife, and partially because my husband and I were binge-watching Netflix and I didn't want to leave the room to go use my machine.

When I had a 4 1/2" wide strip long enough, I cut off the top corners and trimmed up the slightly irregular edges using the pattern I had made.  I wanted five pockets, so I added length to the suggested pattern from the tutorial.

I cut another layer from a scrap of medium-weight wool for the interlining:

I cut and hand-hemmed pockets from more scraps of the two gowns, and used scraps of a striped linen for the inner lining.  Here I have my pockets laid out in the approximate position I wanted them in:

I wanted to avoid raw edges altogether, so I started layering the pockets and lining onto the interlining like so:

Starting at the top (pointed) end, I laid out a layer of lining, my hemmed pocket, and another layer of lining, matching raw edge of pocket.
Then I folded the second layer of lining down and pressed it below the pocket, encasing all raw edges. 
Another pocket was then layered over this lining piece, and the process was repeated down the line until all pockets were attached: 

(I trimmed away excess from the bottom layers of lining before folding down the new one, to cut down on bulk.)
This photo shows how the pockets and inner lining were attached to the interlining:

Then it was a simple matter of sandwiching the outer fabric with the interlining/inner lining and pockets, and binding the raw edges:

I used another striped blue linen for the binding.
When it was finished, I added a tie at the point:

And stuffed the pockets with sewing tools!

The scissors will soon be replaced with an authentic 18th Century embroidery scissors replica.  I also want to add a hand-marked measuring tape.
The thread-winders are from Burnley & Trowbridge

A few more pics of the finished product:


Now I can sew in historically-accurate style and comfort!  :) 


  1. Oh this is just FABULOUS!! I LOVE the patchwork, all of the different prints, and everything about it!! I want one!!
    Keep inspiring us, Anneliese :)