Sew Along & Project Index

Sew Alongs

Cotton Sewing Workbag – These directions are now available as a single PDF in my Etsy shop.

Rolled Sewing Case (This project uses a tin frame from the Genesee Country Village that was pre-purchased for the sew along.)

Slippers and Purse – These Sew Alongs open ended, encouraging independent research and processes on a similar themed project. They are also rather incomplete.


Published in: on December 13, 2017 at 9:50 am  Comments Off on Sew Along & Project Index  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Week 4

Welcome to the 2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case!

Be sure to read the previous 4 posts for this Sew Along.


This week we are finishing our Rolled Sewing Case by making and attaching the ends, and adding the pages as well as ties.

img_20170310_200643.jpgFor the end caps, you need the tin circles, exterior and interior fabric. You may also want batting for pin cushion ends, and pasteboard or cardstock if that is your preferred method from Fanciful Utility.

Cover each tin end with your favorite technique from Fanciful Utility. You are simply using tin instead of pasteboard as your base.

I chose to use wool batting on the outside of my ends for pin cushions. I also used cotton batting for the inside in the covering process. *I do not suggest this latter part with the cotton batting because it did not create an ideal tight & smooth surface.*

Use a couple pins to run through the edge of one end in alongside the tin. Using a whip stitch, secure the end to the tube. I suggest whipping in one direction and back to the beginning. Do a wiggle test to check the security.


If you chose to include needle pages, assemble your needle pages and decorate as desired. Whip stitch them into place in your sewing case. (or use a running stitch through just the lining.)

Cut a length of ribbon that will wrap around your rolled sewing case and tie. Fold the ribbon 12″ from one end. Secure this fold to the closing end of the sewing case.

Congratulations, you have completed your Rolled Sewing Case!

Please, join us for future Sew Alongs.

Published in: on May 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Week 3

Welcome the the 2017 Spring Sew Along!

Be sure to read the first three weeks of this Sew Along.


This week we will be binding the interior to the exterior.

I had trouble deciding whether to stitch the binding over the tin tube or to do the binding first and slide the tube in. Given the angle required for stitching the binding to the inside of the tube, I opted to do the binding first and slide the tube in. I figured this would be the least frustrating for a wide range of sewing skills that may be participating. Do note, this does not make the tightest fit on the corners.

Lay the interior section on top of the exterior material, wrong sides together. Baste the layers together.

At the tube end, fold the binding ribbon over pinning or clipping in place. Do so for each long side 3″ up on each side. Using a blind or whip stitch, catching the selvage edge of the ribbon, attach the ribbon the interior fabric. Be sure not to catch the exterior fabric. Press as needed.


Slide the tin tube inside the layers with the curve opening towards the interior side. This takes a bit of fussing and convincing.



Fold the rest of the ribbon binding around the rest of the perimeter of the sewing case, pinning or clipping in place. Sew the binding to the silk as above. Press as needed.


Completion of this weeks steps has most of the body of the sewing case together.


Next week we will assemble the end pieces and attach the pages as well as ties.

Published in: on April 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Week 2

Welcome to the 20117 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case!

Be sure to read the first two posts  for Materials and Week 1.


This week we are going to be working on our interior materials.

I chose to make a sewing case with a single pocket. You may have a scissors pocket or other pockets as well. Be sure to consult your edition of Fanciful Utility for guidance on these.

For my pocket, I cut my silk to 5″ wide by 3″ deep.  I hemmed the top and made a box pleat in the bottom for a roomy pocket. img_20170310_180404.jpgI laid the pocket right side down on the lining where I wanted it to be. (My plaid helped make that easy.) Using a running stitch, I attached the pocket. Then folded it up into place. I basted the pocket along the edges.

I have come to like the batting or lining used in some originals because it seems to give the sewing case more support when made of silk. I lined my interior fabric up on top of my batting and basted into place.


Next week, we will bind the interior to the exterior and add the tin tube.


Published in: on April 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Week 1

Welcome to the 2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case!

img_20170310_162317.jpgPlease be sure to read the Announcing post with directions for ordering your Tin Tube, made by the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s Tinsmiths and suggested materials list.


This week we are going to cut our materials and prepare the exterior material. (Your tubes should be arriving about now.)

First, decide what you want your Rolled Sewing Case to hold. This will determine what kinds of pocket you will want and how long your case will need to be. I recommend sketching out on a piece of paper what you will want in your sewing case. It may be helpful to cut a strip of 4″ wide paper for doing this. Leave 3 inches at one end to go around the tin. Here are some ideas:

I decided to have a simple case with one pocket and a pair of small pages. (Okay, the fact that I had pre-cut my leather years ago decided the size of my sewing case.)

Next, shape one end for the closure. This can now become your template for your materials. Redraw it if necessary.

Cut 1 layer of exterior material.

Cut 1 layer of interior material.

Cut your needed pockets – Remember to leave a seam allowance and hems for these.

Cut 2 circles 2″ in diameter for the outside of the ends and 2 circles __” in diameter for the inside of the ends. You may also want to cut 2 pasteboard or cardstock circles the size of the tin ends.

img_20170310_163412.jpgI am going to assume most of us are using an exterior material that is more difficult to sew through.

You may find it easier to pre-drill the holes in your material with either an awl or a sewing machine. These holes should be 1/4″ in from the edge.

img_20170310_164437.jpgStarting at the center of the closure, lay your ribbon binding on the exterior of the exterior piece, with about half overlapping. This should like the selvage up so it just covers the holes you made. Sew the ribbon around the perimeter of the exterior material. All the way around. Be sure to miter corners tightly.

Finish the ribbon by folding the raw end under. Some may wish to press the ribbon over to the other side. (I have not done this because I used leather and don’t know what will happen.)

Some may wish to have their feline assistant approve their work.


Next week we will be creating the interior.

Published in: on April 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case – Information

Hollow sewing cases or housewives seem to appear during the mid-nineteenth century and continue through the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, we will look at different examples. Note: this is one item where there are few examples with images publicly available. I recommend looking at your local collections for additional pieces.

1To the right is a sampling trio of hollow sewing cases. The top is the accompanying illustration for a housewife published in Peterson’s Magazine in 1862, Arthur’s Home Magazine in December of 1863, August 1864, and Godey’s  Lady’s Book in 1864 (directions follow). The bottom left is an undated sewing case of similar construction that I suspect is late 19th century based on the sewing and accompanying advertisement. (The image in Pinterest links only to a Flicker account that I have not been able to find the original image or location in.) To the right is another broken Pinterest link. This one is noted as an early twentieth century example attributed to Shakers. The use of this material can be found earlier.  The seams appear to be hand sewn.


To the left are three examples attributed to Shakers from Willis Henry Auctions, sold in 2011. (Note the examples are not to scale.) Notice each is a single, solid color interior silk. The blue example is 9 1/2″ long. Just the very edge of the binding can be seen on the open tube center. This example has a single pocket, a scissors holder, and embroidered wool needle pages. The red one is 5 3/4″ long. This image allows us to see a spool inside the hollow tube. Note: I do not believe these scissors go with this case as it will not easily roll closed with those handles. Both of these appear to have had ribbon tie closures. The yellow example is a later piece. Notice the snap closure. This small case has three spools and needle pages. This one is 3 1/2″ wide.

Additional Examples:



Materials.—A piece of black cloth, eight and one-half inches long, five and one-half inches wide; a piece of toile  circe the same size; one and one-half yard of blue sarsnet ribbon; one skein of coarse black purse silk; a few needle-fuls of various colored silks; buttons, etc.

The stars are worked either of one or in several bright and varied colors; but out pattern is made in the latter style. The stars of the same color form slanting lines; those in a light shade are white; then two lines farther , yellow; the two intermediate lines are one red and the other blue; then after the yellow stars, one line of green, the other of lilac. When the embroidery is finished, line the cloth with toile cirle, and bind both the outside and inside together with sarsnet ribbon, stitching it neatly on. Cover each of the round pocket, or housewife with a round of crochet work in black silk. To do this, make a chain of four or five stitches , join the first to the last so that as to form a circle; take some fine cord, and over this cord work crochet 8 rounds, increasing here and there, so that the round may be a little convex. When finished, it should measure about two inches round. Sew these rounds on to each side of the embroidered cloth, beginning at one of the ends. The rounds form the sides of the pocket and the embroidery is sewn round them, leaving a space of about one inch for the opening. The handle consists of a piece of bright blue ribbon, 10 inches long, fastened on each side in the middle of each round, and finished with a small bow. Two buttons (see illustration) are then added, and at the edge of the work two button-holes made to shut the housewife. To make the house-wife . To make the house-wife still neater and more complete, a piece of ribbon may be stitched inside to hold scissors, bodkin or knife, without putting these things into the pocket loosely.



Published in: on March 22, 2017 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Announcing the 2017 Spring Sew Along – A Rolled Sewing Case

At long last, the 2017 Spring Sew Along is here!
Join us in making a Rolled Sewing Case with an Exclusive Tin Tube made by the craftsman at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.

This rolled sewing case, also called a housewife or huswife, unrolls to reveal a hollow base which can hold spools of thread. The hollow section of this sewing case is large enough to hold period correct spools of thread. When I tested mine, I found it held three small wooden spools, two large wooden spools or one Coats and Clark with one Guttenburg spool.

Using techniques from Fanciful Utility, you choose whether to add a pocket, scissors pocket, needle-pages or other period correct storage spaces to your sewing case.

The base of this sewing case is a hand crafted tin tube and ends made by the tinsmiths at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. The tin tubes are available exclusively through the Genesee Country Village and Museum’s Crafts in the Village program for a donation of $5 each, plus $7.15 Priority shipping. Send requests and donation with shipping to: ATTN Deanna Berkemeier; Genesee Country Village and Museum; 1410 Flint Hill Road; Mumford, NY 14511. Please make check or money orders out to Genesee Country Village with Crafts in the Village in the memo line. Locals can email dberkemeier at GCV dot org to arrange pickup at. 

Please order by March 31st so we can all begin our Sew Along together in April. 

Comment below or message Anna that you will be participating. You may also wish to join the Fanciful Utility Sew Along group on Facebook.

img_20170310_162242.jpgRecommended materials (dimensions given with leeway for cutting.)

  • Your copy of Fanciful Utility
  • Tin Tube Kit from GCVM
  • Exterior material: Leather, oil cloth, painted canvas, wool, tapestry  – 6″ by 12″
  • Interior fabric: Silk taffeta, quilt weight cotton or tropical wool (also for end caps) – 6″by 14″
  • Interior pockets: Silk, leather, cotton as desired
  • Hand full of wool batting
  • 2 yards of 5/8″ cotton sateen ribbon img_20170310_163346.jpg
  • Thin cotton or wool batting. Felted wool will also work. – 6″by 12″
  • Wool flannel or felted wool for needle pages


Published in: on March 14, 2017 at 3:49 pm  Comments (19)  

Sew Along – Slippers

How I start my slippers

First I pull out my copy of Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker, from the bottom right corner of the bookshelf….. Where is it supposed to be but is not. (Vow to make book plates with trackable gps chips inside for every book.)

In lue of said book, trace the bottom of each foot. Set aside to shape properly into the sole when either my copy of ELHOS appears or a copy arrives via ILL.

Remember, I have wide feet.

Move on to the top, which simply must get started.

Take the following measurements:

  • Straight across my toes.
  • Over the ball of my foot.
  • Over the top of my foot where I want the opening to start.
  • The centered bit of where the opening will be. (marking foot where that centered bit will be?)
  • From the ends of the center bit to the back of the foot (tendon)
  • The rise from the floor to the the side of the foot





To make the U shaped slipper:

Lay these measurements out on a centered piece of paper. Connect all of the points. Shape to reflect your period’s slipper shape. Add seam allowances. I will use a half inch for the bottom (outer edge) and back seam, and no upper (interior edge) because I plan to bind that with ribbon on my wool pair. If I were not binding, I would leave a half inch, which I could trim down to a quarter inch.

To make the front part or the two part slipper:

Lay out the measurements on a centered  piece of paper, using those for the front of the foot. Connect and smooth the lines to reflect the look and fit of your period’s slipper.  The back piece is simply a long rectangle that is twice the distance from the front of the foot around to the back. Add seam allowances. For the front, I will be adding a half inch for the seam that will attach to the sole and a half inch for where I will slide in my foot. (I have yet to determine if I will simply line with silk, line with quilted silk or bind with ribbon.) For the back, a half inch top and bottom will be safe as you can trim after.

Notes on my slippers:

For the Berlin work pair with the grapes, at the moment of writing this, I plan to use an Aida cloth though I would much prefer to use a linen. I do not know if I have a linen in the stash that will work for a measured stitch. I feel linen is more correct and will be more durable. EDIT: As per Carolann’s note below, I will find and use canvas for my grape slippers.n

Also for the Berlin work pair, I plan to cut the upper much like the quilted green pair of slippers where the sides angle backwards. I feel this gives both a secure, comfortable fit and a period look.

Who Else Has Made Slippers?

Published in: on May 23, 2016 at 5:14 pm  Comments (7)  

Sew Along – Slippers

My Slipper Ideas

As I mentioned last week, I haven’t made up my mind which slippers I will do. I want to do a patriotic pair, I have materials for an applique wool & ribbon pair and I have wool floss for a Berlin work pair.

If only I had time to do all of them.

But, I don’t.

I’ve narrowed it down to two techniques, using the supplies on hand.

One will be the Berlin work pair. I have a bunch of purples and greens. It is a small, limited supply of beautifully coordinated colors that I lucked upon acquiring together. Fearing how far the wool will go, I think a simple slip-on would make the most of the materials. I was thinking I would do this 1857 Godey’s Slipper, just with purple instead of orange:c8193289ad3247c95ea53d84622a0f62


Then, I saw this Peterson’s 1858 slipper:2016-05-16-08.42.43-1.jpg.jpeg

“Nothing more beautiful than our slipper pattern was ever seen in a Magazine. It may be worked, if preferred, in green and purple, instead of in brown and gold.”

In greens and purples???? Why, yes, I think I will….


The other pair will be take from the Oriental Slipper design in Peterson’s, January of 1866:



I have a nice black wool for the base. Instead of the three colors of braid to directions call for, I have two widths of light blue ribbon. I am picturing the embroidery either in a dark blue (like what will be left from my purse) or a mix of colors, possibly greens or reds. The other piece that is up in the air is whether to use the cones from the illustration or to shape the ribbons something like this (awfully crude sketch):



Published in: on May 22, 2016 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Sew Along – Slippers


Published in: on May 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment