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|
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!