Monday, July 1, 2024

Huswif Book of Treasures

 Historically a huswif - or hussif or housewife - would take the form of a long narrow rectangle that could be rolled up and secured with a tie or button closure. It was essentially a portable sewing kit. There would be one or more pockets, a place for needles and pins and scissors to be stored, and possibly a pin cushion. During WWI soldiers were required to have one in their pack to keep their uniforms in good repair. 

A more familiar item might be a needle book. I've recently been inspired by a fairly new YouTube creator, Bec at sewbecurated. She has expanded the concept of a needle book to include vintage textiles as a place to store or preserve them. I have combined the utility of a huswif with Bec's approach to needle books in my version of a huswif. 

This is the cover of my book. I've stitched on a few of my favorite mother of pearl buttons, strips of vintage lace, and a square of needlepoint I stitched in the 1970's. I've used a hand dyed seam binding to tie the book closed.

I think the crochet trim I've used at the bottom of my huswif probably came off a pillowcase.

This is the back of my book. More laces, vintage buttons and a corner from a handkerchief. I've seed stitched the covers with tiny cross stitches in a variegated perle cotton (size 12).

The inside front cover has a pocket and a stamped image. I was very purposeful about using things I've been collecting for the last year or more. The stamped image and the rose fabric both came from Tilly at Tilly Rose Vintage in the UK.

Next is a sheer little doily.

Under that is a page made from fabric I pulled out of my mother's rag bag as a newly married woman.

The little square of white with the rosebud and butterfly is a feed sack scrap. 

Next is another purchase from Tilly. I've trimmed the linen panel with more strips of vintage trims I've collected. The panel is a reproduction of a French label. It felt too fragile to make into a pocket so it's stitched down on all four sides.

Under the wide lace is this denim page embellished with a couple of vintage appliques and another bit of crochet. The heart was cut from a quilt by Lauretta at Sparrowhawker Designs.

Turning the page you come to the utility spread of my huswif. 

On the left side are two pieces of felted wool for needles. Below that is more wool, lightly stuffed to be a pin cushion. On the right I put a doily from my grandmother's household over the pink felt that backs the denim. On top of the doily I have the triangular pocket for my embroidery scissors. They have to be tied in place or they will fall out if I transport the book anywhere. 

Next is a stamped image from Pamela the Hippie Gypsy and a collar piece I bought from one of Dawn Stephan's sales.

Flipping over the lace reveals the bottom of a vintage appliqued tea towel. Just so pretty!

This is the inside of the back cover. At the bottom is another small pocket. It started out as a corner from an embroidered linen Rachel Roxburgh included in a packet I purchased from her. I've added the eyelet down one side and more vintage lace across the top. At the top of the page I stitched on a piece of crocheted doily. 

Opposite the inside back cover we have Jack Skellington.

He's been hanging on my bulletin board for I don't know how many years. I was thrilled to discover that he would fit perfectly in my huswif. I added a braid down the left edge - this screen print was done on something that ravels fairly easily. The best part is that I was able to make him into a pocket that opens on that side with the braid.

While this was a slow growing project it has been a lot of fun. I'm already thinking about making something similar. This one has turned out to be a bit too large for me to use daily. Most of my tools are on my work table right at hand anyway. The idea of showcasing treasured textiles in book form really appeals to me. Maybe this will be a way for me to pass bits of family history treasures down to our children and grandchildren. 😊


  1. This is really beautiful. To be honest, I'd never have the patience, but I do value needlebooks greatly, to the point that I'm still gratefully using the one you gifted to me years ago, keeping thimble, scissors and stitch ripper in the end pockets and needles of all sizes and purposes in the pages. I like that this one has a dual purpose, showcasing beautiful textiles of past times and holding the requisites of everyday stitching and repairs.

  2. Quiltdivajulie - Oh, this is SO wonderful! All those precious bits and pieces . . .

  3. Look at all those lovely bits you have saved and now they have a home.. I think a little book is a great idea. I'll bet your children and grand children will love to have this piece of you.. Thank you again for taking the time to answer my sewing questions. Hugs! deb

  4. Very nice! You likely had a very relaxing time working on these wonderful pages :-)


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