Merchant and Mills Hussif

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noun

  1. sewing kit = housewife

At college, part of our course involves a soft furnishing module. As someone who assumed anyone could make cushions and curtains, I learnt a lot of very nifty tricks, and predominantly the right way and wrong way to do things. Now I find myself getting upset when I see poorly sewn cushions with pointy ears on the corners. We had to bring in a small sewing kit each week, and as time went by, I realised my regular bag just wouldn’t cut it. Following on from the success of my Merchant and Mills apron, I went ahead and made a hussif for myself, to keep things tidy.

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To quote M&M themselves:

“A hussif was once the soldier’s best friend, containing all he needed to keep his uniform in tiptop condition. The word derives from housewife and no one disputes the usefulness or allure of that army of women.”

Having done a small amount of internet based research, I found out that the first mention of hussif was in a dictionary in 1749, and you can buy replica WWI needle kits for your hussif. As for my hussif, well, it’s not yet as well stocked as this one, but I’m getting there.

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Not wanting to actually spend any money on this (it’s hard being a student!), mine is made from canvas rather than calico. Makes for a sturdier case, and hopefully it will soften and age nicely in time. I found some thin twill tape in my stash (complete with genuine tea stains!), and I used a scrap of Liberty lawn from a summer dress for the pincushion.

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Wary that my hussif would be a little drab and perhaps get lost in the sea of calico at college (we make up examples in plain calico), I added some embroidery to the front. I found these scissors in the Hoop Love vintage embroidery transfer group on flickr, and added my initials too, as it felt the right thing to do. I’m no embroidery wiz, so this is all done in simple backstitch. I did try to use colours that matched the Liberty lawn for a bit of cohesion.

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Overall, I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s helping me keep my important sewing notions tidy and together, and I feel nice and traditional about it.

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3 comments

  1. This is lovely – I need to make something similar to hold my knitting kit. But now I’m really curious about how a cushion should be properly sewn?

    1. Thank you. I think it would be really easy to adapt into a knitting needle kit. I probably need one myself.
      And as for the cushion, well, it’s all in the corners and the piping. My teacher has been working in soft furnishing and upholstery for years, so she really knows her stuff. Perhaps I’ll do a tutorial one of these days.

  2. A tutorial would be fab! So I need no longer feel embarrassed by any future cushions. (I completely wimped and left out the piping altogether on the only one I’ve so far made, though.) ;)

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