Ubiquitous, functional, and pretty -- these three words best describe the accessory that soldiers so frequently carried with them that it became one of their best friends on campaign. The sewing kit, affectionately known as the "housewife," was an item as individual and unique as the soldier himself.
Almost no two are identical. The fact that they were made mostly by women on the homefront accounts for this. A soldier would find items such as thread, buttons, pins, needles, scrap fabric, even scissors in a housewife sent to him. Some women were urged to enclose a note to the happy recipient with some words of encouragement.
Our housewives reflect the "homemade" nature of originals, drawing inspiration from samples in museum, private, and our own collections. Many options are available, including backing material of regular fabric, leather, or painted cloth which is varnished with gum sandarac, scented with lavander oil. They can also be customized with national/patriotic motifs, i.e. Corps badges, flags, etc. All visible stitching is by hand.
Click on the thumbnails to view detailed sections of each photograph. Simply click your browser's back button to return!
- Oilcloth housewife with pincushions/padded cylinder, rolled and closed.
- Same housewife open, showing tri-color flannel pinflaps, buttons, and thread.
- Housewife taken from pattern published by the U.S. Christian Commission.
- The "Kathleen" model, featuring Confederate 1st National Flag as pinflap.
Ordering a Housewife
Specify style/material/color preference. All kits come with thread, buttons, needles, and pins.
Housewife with cylindrical roll (thumbnails 1, 2) - oilcloth, $50.00
Housewife with cylindrical roll (thumbnails 1, 2) - leather, $60.00
"Flat" pattern housewife (title thumbnail) - oilcloth, $35.00
"Flat" pattern housewife (title thumbnail) - leather, $45.00
Housewife of U.S.C.C. pattern (thumbnail 3), $25.00
"Kathleen" model with C.S.A. 1st Nat'l (thumbnail 4) - oilcloth, $55.00
"Gettysburg" model, with cylindrical roll, silk taffeta lined, embroidered pinflaps - in leather, coming soon!
All prices include shipping and handling.