Tuesday, July 5, 2022

CLF 2022 Auction: Housewife Sewing Kit by Rebecca (Beckie) Mooneyhan


In the 18th and 19th centuries, any man unlucky enough to need clothing mended while away from home desperately needed the assistance of a “housewife”, or as they’re prosaically known a “huswif.” 

Whether in the barracks or in the field, soldiers and frontiersmen could tackle the job of repairing their clothing or uniform with a tidy, portable sewing kit known as a housewife. The term goes back to at least the middle of the 18th century, but this year’s CLF Live Fundraising Auction will offer the modern frontiersman his own portable “housewife.”

Artist Rebecca (Beckie) Mooneyhan has created a reproduction portable sewing kit that will come in handy for your next living history event, or for that matter, around the home. It’s a pocket-sized sewing kit suitable for a lady or gentleman. As her inspiration, Mooneyhan loosely based her creation from an original example which she viewed at Colonial Williamsburg.

Mooneyhan’s housewife is made from an eclectic mix of historically-based reproduction fabrics, including brown check linen, blue check cotton/linen, and wool. The entire piece, measuring 3 3/8 inches wide and 10 1/2 inches long, was hand-sewn with cotton thread. “Waste not want not,” says Mooneyhan, “this little sewing kit is heavily pieced.”

This housewife comes empty, and for good reason. “It is empty,” explains the artist, “and has no pins or needles as some historic documents suggest some housed precious items like rings or jewelry and not just sewing paraphernalia.” 

For more information on the work of Rebecca Mooneyhan, contact: plantgrrrl@gmail.com

Text by Joshua Shepherd 

Photography by David Wright

To see all the artists’ postings for the 2022 CLF Fundraising Auction go to:


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