Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Day 8: Vocabulary

In the 18th century, a housewife or hussif was something commonly found in the home, and kind of the 1700's equivalent of an empty cookie tin that holds sewing supplies. They were often made of scraps, and could be customized to hold whatever the seamstress needed, and then would roll up for easy storage and transport.

I found myself in the position of having enough scrap fabric to save, but not enough for a bigger project, so I decided it was finally time to sew a housewife! There weren't a lot of rules that I followed, and I kind of made it up as I went along, but I think that's faithful to a project like this in the 18th century as well.

To begin with, I cut out two rectangles that came to a point a one end, and I also cut out three more rectangles to serve as pockets. I can always add more pockets if I need to, but for now I wanted to have a lot of space to stick pins into.

My beeswax pocket and the slightly larger pocket (currently being used for my measuring tape)

The big pocket and pin storage

I sewed the pockets to the body, and then sewed the two largest body rectangles together, right sides facing out. I wanted my housewife to have lots of color and contrasting patterns, so I chose to bind it in a contrasting print. Making the binding was a simple matter of cutting strips about 2" wide, and then folding it over as I sewed.

In sewing the pockets to the body, I used a variety of different stitches. While I'm not familiar with any 18th century housewifes that this can be seen on, I wanted to use mine as a kind of sampler, so that visitors could understand what different types of stitches look like without necessitating me altering whatever garment I am currently sewing.
A whip stitch

A running stitch, or a basting stitch
A backstitch

My last step (and what I should have done before adding the binding, but oh well!), was to add ties to help keep the roll closed. I knew that silk ribbon was an option, but I also knew that I would be using this quite a lot, and after seeing how the silk ties on a friend's housewife were holding up I decided that it would be better for me to turn the selvage edge of a scrap piece into a much sturdier tie. Instead of sewing the tubes inside and then struggling to turn something to tiny, I just folded the raw edges in and sewed along the very edge, and since the final width was roughly 1/4" that worked very well.

It looks a bit cleaner in real life; I was having trouble getting a good photo of the ties where they attach to the roll

The finished product!

Overall, I am very happy with this project. I started using it immediately, and I don't know how I could have ever kept my sewing supplies floating around in my basket! I am looking for a way to make the pockets closeable, as my thread sometimes escapes when I first unroll it, but that might just be user error. My favorite thing about my housewife is the stitching. Since I do most of my sewing in front of the public, I wanted to have an easier way to answer questions about stitches, so I turned the project into a sampler! Now, I can point out what the basic stitches look like without having to demonstrate in the middle of a project that doesn't require that stitch.

Finally, my basket is staying organized, and that is simply incredible!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it nice to make something useful but not tediously time-consuming now and then? Lovely, especially using it as a sampler.