My Victorian Hussif or Housewife Sewing Kit

A hussif, housewife or hussy is a small sewing kit which was used on travels to keep necessary sewing tools handy.

Here are 1840 instructions for making a housewife. I used unbleached cotton canvas for my hussif. As sewing thread, I removed threads from the canvas. I embroidered it with cotton embroidery floss, made a thread button loop and a Dorset thread button. I made the hussif as small as possible – it measures 16 x 7 or 25cm – but still big enough for the sewing tools I’d want to take with me.

It carries a crochet hook, tape measure, thimble, sewing needles, and a small embroidery scissor secured by a fabric loop and press stud, with additional room for a bigger scissor and sewing thread spools. There’s a wadded cushion for pins, and a pocket with a press stud.


It’s inspired by this antique 1870-90 hussif (Marsh, 2008).

The hussif is very useful: I use it when I want to sew in the garden and on travels.


  • Marsh, G. (2008) 19th Century Embroidery Techniques, Lewes, Guild Of Master Craftsman Publications

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