“What’s in Your Work Pocket?” – FanU for the Modern World – Part 2

On Tuesday, I shared my pocket of pockets for my desk at work. Be sure to catch that post.

One of the easiest projects in Fanciful Utility is the basic folded or rolled work pocket. As a sewing accessory, it is an easy one to make and carry around.

IMG_7800In the modern world, single pocket work pockets can be a very personalized option for holding so many other things.  They can also be made up in a great many fabrics for modern use. Because of how these fold up, they can be lots of fun with various prints. My examples use some of the silks I had laying around including a boldly embroidered piece and a large scale print. The larger motifs were a lot of fun to play with.

Here are just a few of the uses I have found.


Since I finally have business cards that I am happy with, I needed a simple case to carry them in. Fanciful Utility’s basic folded/rolled work pocket was the perfect option. I just needed to increase the finished width to 4 3/4″ to hold several cards after the binding is put on. I find silk is particularly nice for this because the cards can slide in and out easily.

IMG_7794These work pockets are 4″ wide, also made in silks. Here the one on the left holds a little cash, while the one on the right holds a credit card, or actually a GCV membership card.

IMG_7798Those of us who get teary at weddings or funerals, may like one that holds a few tissues. How nice to have a pretty pocket discreetly sitting on your lap rather than have to dig through your purse? Or, if you happen to have two, how nice to pass this down the aisle rather than a handful of tissue?

I can tell you this pocket nicely holds a migraine medication in a foil packet. It would also hold a blister packet of allergy medicine too. I also see a pocket holding sanitary products, keeping them from getting lost in your purse or bag, and easily being popped into your pocket or carried to the ladies’ room with none the wiser.

I suspect many of you may be working on your Christmas gift list. I would be delighted if you made a few Fanciful Utility goodies with a modern twist for those on your list. I would love to see some made up in festive holiday fabrics.

Published in: on September 10, 2015 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Fanciful Utility – 2014 Ornaments

A special something for my Fanciful Utility readers….

Use your favorite techniques from Fanciful Utility to make something with a modern twist. You can make ornaments for your tree or festive needle-books with these templates. I offer you a pair of traditional spun ornaments and a fun mitten and stocking pair.

2014 1 2014 2

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm  Comments (2)  

Where do I find Fanciful Utility?

FanU-Cover-SnapThis is a question I love to hear and I love to answer.

You can find and purchase my book, Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases and Needle-books, at The Sewing Academy.

Fanciful Utility makes an excellent gift for reenactors, museum friends, seamstresses, quilters, and anyone crafty with a needle and thread.

Fanciful Utility is packed full of projects, complete with directions and templates, for rolled sewing cases, sewing boxes and needle-books.

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Published in: on November 13, 2014 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Count Down to the Symposium

There are just 3 days until the Genesee Country Village’s Domestic Skill Symposium.

I will be teaching two workshops on Sunday. We will be making a rolled sewing case in the morning and a sewing box in the afternoon.

Some of you may know I am an obsessive pre-planner. That being so, I pre-cut the fabric in my mind a half dozen times before actually starting cutting it last night. Yep, that’s me.

But, check out these pretty fabrics: image

Each one is a reproduction cotton from my favorite fabrics shop: Chestnut Bay.

How great is it to have a fabric shop with a reproduction room so close by?!?

When I sat down to cut, I opted not to use the larger prints because I thought that would be unfair to participants. Plus, bigger prints are harder to work with if you happen to be one obsessive about centering motives or getting balance or symmetry.

I am so excited, not only to hold my workshops but also to see the museum hold this symposium. They have such a great venue for this.

Faniciful Utility Book Signing!!!

Come visit me at the Genesee Country Village and Museum. I will be signing Fanciful Utility in the Dressmaker’s Shop.

FanU GCVM book signing July 2013

This is the adorable pink building I enjoyed spending the day in a couple weeks ago. It is just off the village square. Directly across the road is the Village Merchantile where Fanciful Utility will be available. Stop in to say ‘hi’ and get your copy signed.

Fanciful Utility – Fun Ways for Fabric Pieces

Anyone working on or planning their sewing case projects from Fanciful Utility knows just how much fun bits & pieces of fabric are.
For those shopping online for bundles of fabric pieces, check out these period correct cotton scrap packs. She is including an assortment of good size pieces for a great price. With the approximate yard and a half in each pack, you could make several sewing cases.
Another fun way to fun way to make the most of fabric? How about a fabric swap! Either in person or by mail, a group of sewing friends could get together to swap fabric. Figure if a dozen friends sent each other a 6″ by 12″ piece of fabric, each person would have a dozen pieces to play with. Each could make several cases with their new stash. Your group could pick a theme of mid-century cotton, late-century cottons, silks or something modern. Remember to share yur photos after!
If you haven’t picked up your copy of Fanciful Utility yet, please visit the Sewing Academy. to order your copy.

Published in: on November 18, 2012 at 10:23 am  Leave a Comment  

“Painted like an apple, plum, or peach”

For those wondering “can I make these for….”, here is a follow up to the strawberry emery post.

This is a clip from the 1833 edition of A Girls Own Book, by Lydia Child:

This comes from Eliza Leslie’s 1831 American Girl’s Book:

“This pincushion is made of a piece of coarse linen, about half a quarter square, cut into two triangular or three-cornered halves, stuffed with bran and covered with scarlet cloth; which cover must be sewed neatly on the wrong side, and then turned. The top or broad part must be gathered so as to meet all round, and concealed by sewing on a small round piece of green velvet, scalloped in imitation of the cap of green leaves that surround the stem where it joins the strawberry. The stem must be imitated by sewing on a small green silk cord. To represent the seeds, the strawberry must be dotted over with small stitches, made at regular distances with a needle-full of yellow silk, and close to each yellow stitch must be a stitch of black.

Emery bags are often made in this manner, but of course much smaller; not exceeding the size of a large strawberry.”

From Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1869, we have this pear:

Published in: on October 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Strawberry Emory

Most of us have grown up with the tomato pin-cushion from which dangles the strawberry emery. This fruit and veggie pair seems to be the strongest survivors of almost tasty looking fruit and vegetable shaped pin-cushions that appear to have peaked in popularity towards the end of the nineteenth century. Often made of velvets, silks and wools, these take shape as apples, pears and carrots to name just a few. These fruit and vegetable shapes are an occasional curiosity of mine. So, when I stumbled upon this fun description of the strawberry emeries, I had to share it with you.

“She was just telling me she had finished stitching the strawberry seeds into the emeries, and wanted another job. She made most of the emeries. I cut out the strong cotton bags, and let her sew them up over a similarly shaped woolen sack filled with emery. She made the red silk sacks, and fastened them on, ready for the green leaves and the cord. She stitched in the seeds with yellow saddler’s silk. I think they are very pretty, and she is delighted with them.”(American Agriculturalist, December 1867)

By the way, this conversational passage, which goes on, was followed by this nifty little labyrinth:


Here is another strawberry emery, knit, found in both Peterson’s and Godey’s in 1859:

A Sampling of Fanciful Utility

As I anxiously await seeing what the first readers of Fanciful Utility: Victorian Sewing Cases & Needle-books create, I would like to share with you a sampling of pieces I made. Each of these can be made with the directions and templates found in Fanciful Utility.

This shell shaped needle-book is one of my favorite shapes to work with. Shell and shell shaped needle-books appear frequently in nineteenth century magazines and guide books.

This bell shaped needle-book shows the effect a variated silk can add to a piece.


These cotton rolled sewing cases are those popularly recognized in Civil War reenacting as “Housewives” or “Huswifes”. These little cases can hold a great deal.

The same case can be done in silk as well. Rolled cases were also often made with leather, oiled silk or painted canvas exteriors fo men.

This structured sewing case is made of silks and wools. The central box of the case can easily hold thread, scissors, thimbles and other sewing notions.

This case, another personal favorite style, has a place for just about everything. The looks are almost endless depending on the combination of materials you use.

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm  Comments (2)  

Fanciful Utility with a Christmas twist

Thank you to everyone who has purchased a copy of Fanciful Utility as well as those of you who will be in the future.
As Christmas approaches, I wanted to point out that the techniques in Fanciful Utility work nicely for gifts. You can make beautiful needle-books and sewing cases using holiday colors. Here is a vintage example currently on ebay:



You can also use the needle-book template shapes in Fanciful Utility to make ornaments.

Published in: on October 19, 2012 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment