Many American women in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries sought to industriously repurpose outdated clothing. The fabric might be used to upholster furniture, or to make any manner of small items. This lavender and white plaid needle case, made of material from one of Martha Washington's dresses, was either pieced from her own hand or by one of her descendants. Later inherited by her granddaughter, Martha Parke Custis Peter (1777-1854), its interior still bears the prick marks of dozens of pins and needles once stored between its covers.


A paper and silk needle case; the needle case covers are made from rectangles of paper covered in book matched pieces of plaid silk taffeta, the seams surround all four sides, the edges are folded under and whip stitched closed in white silk thread; the two covers are bound on the left side by an additional slip stitch in white silk thread; on the interior, tucked in between the binding is a length of medium weight white silk thread; both interior surfaces show signs of use, iron-stained pin pricks are seen throughout.





Silk, silk thread, paper


Overall (Open): 2 5/8 in. x 2 1/8 in. x 1 1/8 in. (6.68 cm x 5.41 cm x 2.87 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1956

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
Buy Tickets What to Do Calendar Shop Restaurant Donate Membership
Estate Hours

Open today from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

iconDirections & Parking
buy tickets online & save