Baskets, boxes and bags: the accessories of needlepoint-Part 1

Sewing baskets have been an important part of women’s lives for hundreds of years.

It is easy to forget that before the industrial revolution all clothes, underwear, bedding, tea towels and washing cloths were all made by hand.

Many of these day to day objects were decorated with beautiful stitches, and a flourish of highly developed skills and decoration.

The earliest containers for storing the sewing materials needed for this stitching were simple bags made of cloth or leather, however for those who could afford it they soon became elaborate affairs made of every kind of material including decorative rare woods, ivory, leather and metals. The inside of these were often lined with scraps of fabric or for the wealthier ladies padded silks and rich velvets. The sewing “box” or “lady’s companion” was considered an intimate space. Many were able to be locked, and no doubt held private objects, away from preying eyes.

In the 18th Century needlepoint became popular as he middle classes tried to replicate the tapestries on the walls and furniture of castles and grand homes of the nobility. Sewing boxes now included large boxes with elaborate drawers and compartment to hold the the large amounts of wool required.
I did a little research and found some marvellous examples of sewing boxes at and also to my surprise on Ebay. I was delighted to find what looks like an interesting book by Jennifer Foster called Jane Austen’s Sewing Box: Craft Projects and Stories from Jane Austen’s Novels, for sale online.
If you have an interesting sewing box, please send a photo and tell us its story.
With a change of seasons at our door, it may be time to tidy up those sewing boxes and be grateful to all the women sewn into our lives, past and present.
Happy stitching, Barbara



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