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  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1754 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Flannel, embroidered silk in silk, lined with satin, edged with silk braid, ribbon, brocaded silk in silver thread, and lined with silk

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This needle case has been made by assembling fragments of rich silk dress silks and ribbons. The maker was thought to be a resident of the West Country, and ribbons would have been readily available in the surrounding area, where highly skilled weavers were producing English silks throughout the eighteenth century. Measures of coveted French silks were also stocked by traders and retailers in the major towns, as well as by pedlars who made regular journeys to and from London.

In the eighteenth century, women of all classes of society would have created needlecases in this style. The materials used varied in accordance with their financial resources. The expensive French and English dress silks evident here suggest a family with access to luxury goods, either through direct involvement in the trade, or through conspicuous consumption.

Both practical and decorative needlework played an important part in women's lives at this time; in the management of households and in the making, mending and decoration of clothes and household furnishings. Steel needles were essential equipment, and beautifully crafted and embroidered needle cases were the perfect depository for one of the main tools of daily life.

Physical description

Folding sewing case with six inside sections, five pockets (two are sewn down) and a red flannel compartment for needles. The latter lifts away to show a white silk panel embroidered in red silk with a coronet, the initials 'S.H.' and the date '1754'.

The outside of the case is lined with yellow figure satin of the 1720s and is edged with yellow silk braid, with a 46 cm (18 inches) long fastening ribbon to wrap around the case when folded and closed. The inside pockets are made from English woven ribbons of the 1720s (the blue and two yellow samples) and 1730s (green and cream), and a 1720s French silk brocaded is silver thread. One ribbon (of yellow with red design) has been used on its side. The open pockets are lined on one side with plain green silk.

Place of Origin

England (made)


1754 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Flannel, embroidered silk in silk, lined with satin, edged with silk braid, ribbon, brocaded silk in silver thread, and lined with silk

Marks and inscriptions

'SH / 1754' [within a coronet]
Embroidered in red silk


Length: 2.625 in closed, Width: 2.75 in closed, Length: 6.5 cm closed, Width: 7 cm closed, Length: 14.5 in maximum, open, Length: 37 cm maximum, open

Object history note

Part of a collection (T.282 to T.287&A-1984) said to have come from the same West Country source and embroidered by different generations of the same family.

Descriptive line

Embroidered silk folding sewing case, England, dated 1754


Accessories; Needlework accessories; Embroidery


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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