In the early nineteenth century, Martha Washington's granddaughter, Eliza Parke Custis Law, constructed this needlecase, one of many she created as mementoes of the nation's First Lady. The cross-stitch panels on the cover were cut from chair cushions with a scallop shell pattern worked by Martha Washington, while the lining was cut from one of Mrs. Washington's silk dresses. The cross-stitch fragments retain much of their original brilliance and offer a rare glimpse of the strong colors that would have enlivened the Little Parlor at Mount Vernon.


Book shaped needlecase; the outer covering cut from a piece of linen canvas with a cross-stitched shell design in shades of yellow and red multi-strand worsted wool threads and yellow silk threads; the interior is lined in a cream-bodied brocaded silk spotted with small white flowers and leaves; three layers of green felted wool, cut in a D shape in graduated sizes and embroidered with a blanket stitch in chenille thread around their outer edges, form the leaves of the book; the book is bound in yellow silk with pinked, scalloped edges; a two strand braid of chenille thread is sewn to the exterior binding; two strands of chenille are attached inside each cover at the center of their outer edges.


c. 1802-1831




Wool, silk, linen


Overall: 7/8 in. x 3 1/8 in. x 2 5/8 in. (2.24 cm x 7.95 cm x 6.68 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Thomas A. Fransioli Sr., in memory of his wife, Elizabeth Hoffman McVicker Fransioli, 1991

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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