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Martha Washington is believed to have made this needle book. Although the embroidery is purely decorative, the form it covers is elegantly functional. Intended to be hung from the waistband by the grosgrain ribbon, the needle book safely stored needles in the layers of wool between its stiff walls. The receptacle was opened by applying pressure on either side of the "mouth," causing the buckram to resist and buckle open, thus allowing the needle worker to push in or take out pins.

See also pincushion, W-2738/B.


Teardrop-shaped silk embroidered needle book. The needle book is characterized by two rigidly layered covers that protect 3 scalloped layers of broadcloth, a fulled plain weave wool. The proper face of the needle book is made from a white silk satin ground embroidered with polychrome silk thread and silver-wrapped silk thread. Central to the decoration is a blue bird surrounded by shoots of flora that fill much of the ground. It is supported by a medium weight buckram and is lined with a single layer of pink plain woven silk. The obverse cover is less densely embroidered, featuring polychrome birds, scrolling flora and is topped a half medallion of diaper-and-stars. It, too, is supported by a medium weight layer of buckram and is lined with pink plain woven silk. The layers of fabric are stitched together along the top three sides, leaving the bottom open to receive needles stored and retrieved in the broadcloth. The needle book is finished by an edging of pink plain woven ribbon. Attached to the top of the needle book is a length of pink grosgrain ribbon looped and stitched into place to be securely strung onto an apron or dress tie.






Silk, broadcloth, buckram, silver-wrapped silk thread


Overall: 15 in. x 2 3/4 in. x 3/8 in. (38.1 cm x 6.99 cm x 0.97 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of Lydia Spencer Moncure Robinson, 1978

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.
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