Designed to house the necessary tools of needlework, this sewing case combines fabrics worn by Martha Washington in a utilitarian object that serves as a reminder of her personal style. Layers of felted wool, sized to store a variety of needles, are attached to a row of pockets formed from sumptuous brocaded silks. Silver and gold threads woven into some of the silks are indicative of her wealth and her requests for "the Best" articles available. The case itself may have been constructed by Mrs. Washington late in life or by one of her granddaughters, who treasured articles worn by her.

Description

Oblong needle case of pieced fabrics that folds into a rectangular form with an envelope flap closure; the case consists of seven divisions beginning with a triangular panel followed by five rectangular pockets and ends with five graduated semicircular layers of red felted wool stacked on top of each other; the first triangular panel consists of a flowered, dark blue-bodied brocaded silk taffeta woven with silver thread; the second panel consists of a flowered, white-bodied brocaded silk taffeta; the third panel consists of a flowered, white-bodied brocaded silk taffeta; the fourth panel consists of a blue-green silk damask woven with silver wrapped thread; the fifth panel consists of a flowered, white-bodied brocaded silk taffeta woven with silver gilt or gold thread; in the final section, the semicircular layers of red felted wool are each embroidered with a chevron border in silver threads; four of the pockets are lined with pink silk taffeta; the central damask pocket is unlined; the outer edges of the case and the open end of each pocket are bound with faded, silk tape; the exterior face of the needlecase is formed of a single piece of flowered, white-bodied brocaded silk, a piece of which was also used to make the second pocket panel.

Date

1800-1840


Geography


Material/Technique

Silk, wool, metallic threads


Dimensions

Overall: 4 5/8 in. x 18 1/2 in. (11.76 cm x 46.99 cm)


Credit Line

Bequest of Marie Worthington Conrad Lehr in memory of her brother Charles Angelo Conrad, 1915


Object Number

W-588


Colors (Beta)


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