The sign of the unicorn. A fabric shop for 18th century reenactors and historians.

Needlework Tools

Thread Winders

In the 18th century thread was sold in skeins like embroidery floss is today. For easy use thread would be wound onto a winder. A bit of beeswax rubbed into the loose end of thread will secure it to the winder.
These thread winders are 1 1/4" across and are similar to the 18th century types shown on page 168 of Swan, Susan Burrows, 1977, Plain and Fancy, American Women and Their Needlework, 1700-1850; Rutledge Books.

$5.00 Bone
Choose from flower or cross designs.

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Thread winders for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's sewing baskets.
Thread winders for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's sewing baskets.

$1.00 Plain Wood

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Thread winders for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's sewing baskets.
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Short Handle Wood Lucets

Short handled lucets appear to be more common prior to about the 1790s. These cherry lucets are about 3 1/2" (9 cm) long and 2 1/4" (5.75 cm) wide. Each is hand crafted in Illinois Territory by our own craftsman. Lucet cord is a good craft to demonstrate and all materials may be easily placed in your pocket so they are handy to keep your hands working all the time. Many threads may be used but we have found 16/2 linen thread makes strong cord. Directions for making lucet cord are included in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing Book II.

$10.00

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Lucets are a good craft for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's demonstration.

Short Handle Bone Lucets

Short handled lucets appear to be more common prior to about the 1790s. These bone lucets are about 3 1/2" (9 cm) long and 1 1/4" (3.18 cm) wide. Lucet cord is a good craft to demonstrate and all materials may be easily placed in your pocket so they are handy to keep your hands working all the time. Many threads may be used but we have found 16/2 linen thread makes strong cord. Directions for making lucet cord are included in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing Book II.

$10.00

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Lucets are a good craft for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's demonstration.

Long Handle Wood Lucets

Lucets are used to make strong cords for tying stays, breeches, hats and shoes. Many threads may be used but we have found 16/2 linen thread makes strong cord. Lucets were made in many shapes, sizes and styles although long handled lucets seem to be more common later (1790s into the 19th century) and short handled lucets tend to be earlier. Directions for making lucet cord are included in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing Book II. This style lucet has a very smooth finish and is just over 4" (10 cm) long.

$5.00

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Lucets are a good craft for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreter's demonstration.

Bone Parasol Needle Case

new New!

The parasol needle cases first appeared in the early 19th century after parasols became popular. Being handmade variations exist. Each is about 3 3/4" (9.5 cm) long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a needle over 2" (5 cm) long.

$20.00

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Bone fish needle holders like these were used starting in about the 1800s.

Rosewood Parasol Needle Case

new New!

The parasol needle cases first appeared in the early 19th century after parasols became popular. Being handmade variations exist. Each is about 5" (12 cm) long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a needle over 2 3/4" (7 cm) long.

$20.00

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Bone fish needle holders like these were used starting in about the 1800s.

Bone Fish Needle Case

The fish is a common theme in late 18th to mid 19th century needle cases and you will love this beautifully carved one. Each is about 4" (10 cm) long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a needle over 2" (5 cm) long.

$20.00

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Bone fish needle holders like these were used starting in about the 1790s.

Horn Fish Needle Case

Fish needle holders are commonly seen from the late 18th to mid 19th century. This one you will want to keep in the family and pass down to later generations. These are slightly larger than our other needle cases being about 4 1/4" (10 cm) long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a needle over 2" (5 cm) long.

$20.00

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A beautifully carved horn fish needle case.

Rosewood Fish Needle Case

Many types of fish needle holders are seen from the late 18th to mid 19th century. This one you will want to keep in the family and pass down to later generations. These are about 4" (10 cm) long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a large needle of over 2" (5 cm) long.

$20.00

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A beautifully carved rosewood fish needle case.

Rosewood Needle Case

This elegant addition to your needlework basket is 4 1/4" long when the cap is screwed into place and will accommodate a needle over two inches long.

$7.00

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Rosewood Needle Holder

Openwork Needle Case

This intricately carved bone needle case has a screw on horn top to securely hold your needles. Each is about 4" (10 cm) long when the cap is in place and will accommodate a needle over 2" (5 cm) long. Although not copied after any original they are very similar to many original needle cases from the late 18th to mid 19th century.

$20.00

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An intricately carved bone needle case with a black horn screw on top.

Horn and Wood Thimbles

Thimbles were often made of materials other than metal before the 20th century. These thimbles are made of black horn (at left), light brown horn (center), and rosewood (right). In London's The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1793 in a murder case the hearings recorded "she told me she was very busy sewing; I told her she could not be at sewing work because her thimble was below, and she put her left hand into her pocket and shewed me another thimble, and, says she, I have got another thimble in my pocket."

$6.00 any style

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Black horn, brown horn and rosewood thimble.
Tailors thimble for hand sewers.

Tailor's Thimble

If you don't like sewing with a thimble you might try a tailor's thimble. Tailor's thimbles are open at both ends and allow you to push the needle with the side of your finger but feel the fabric with the tip. They are also nice to sew with since your finger does not get so sweaty. Women with long nails also like to sew with these thimbles. Tailor's thimbles are suggested in The Workman's Guide to Plain Sewing Tailoring Stitches and Techniques and an original excavated at Fort Ticonderoga with an estimated date of 1750 to 1780 is illustrated on page 48 of "A Soldier-Like Way" The Material Culture of the British Infantry 1751-1768. Currently we are offering these thimbles in US size 10 and 12. In London's The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, of 1744 in the trial of a group of theives it was recorded "ANOTHER Evening they met a Man whom they supposed to be a Taylor, in Hackney Fields, to whom they gave the usual Salutation, and took from him his Watch, about Five Pounds Two Shillings in Money, his Silver, Shoe, and Knee Buckles, his Hat, his Wig, his Neckcloth, and his Thimble."

$5.00

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Housewife

Housewives were used as sewing kits throughout the 18th and 19th centuries to hold sewing tools, thread, thimble, money, and jewelry. Usually owned by women, housewives may have been used as sewing kits for soldiers, sailors, and single men. Our housewives are completely hand sewn of samples of beautiful 100% linen, wool, and cotton. Three pockets allow you to store your needlework tools or money with a wool pin cushion at the top. Although each one is individually made they measure approximately 4" by 10 1/2" and fold to 4" by 3". Since each is made by hand fabrics and sizes very. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1732 "We searched her, and found 7 Guineas, 5 s. and 6 d. and a Gold Ring in a Housewife in her Pocket".

In our picture we have attempted to show some items that may have been found in a housewife of the second half of the 18th century. All these items are sold separately.

$20.00

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Hand sewn houswife for 18th and 19th century reenactors and historic interpreters.

Needle Book

Simple needle books like these are sometimes found in traditional collections. They are the work of necessity and frugality. These are simply made of five pieces of wool coatings back stitched together with linen thread. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey in a theft trial in 1784 London it was recorded, "SIMON ALLEN was indicted for feloniously stealing . . .  one pincushion, value one halfpeny, one needle book, value one halfpenny".

$1.50

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Hand sewn needlebook for 18th and 19th century reenactors and historic interpreters.

Embroidery Scissors

Our premium quality gorgeous gold plated 3 1/2" long Mundial embroidery scissors are top of the line. These hot dropped forged scissors have a lifetime manufacturer's warranty and will provide many years of hard use. These are made in a style very similar to many from the 18th century. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London, in 1731 "James Cornwal of St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, was indicted for burglariously breaking the House of Mary Smith, and stealing a pair of Scissors, value 18d."

$15.00/pair

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  Embroidery scissors for 18th centruy reenactors and historic interpreters.

Double Pointed Knitting Needles

Before the 20th century fine knitting was done on steel knitting needles but bone was the material of choice for coarse knitting. Bone needles are very smooth to work with, yet prevent the work from sliding off of them and they become even smoother with use. The 10" length size 7 works well for knitting Scottish Bonnets, no more stitches falling off the ends! The 7" in size 5 or 6 works well for knitting mittens. Complete your authentic knitting kit with 100% wool knitting yarn. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1803, "JOHN THOMPSON, alias KELLY, was indicted for making an assault, on the King's highway, upon Mary Hurst, widow, on the 27th of May, putting her in fear, and taking from her person a set of knitting-needles, value 2s."

Set of five 10" (25 cm) bone needles $20.00. Please specify type:
size 5 (3.75 mm), size 6 (4 mm), & size 7 (4.5 mm)

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Set of five 7" (18 cm) bone needles $16.00. Please specify type:
size 5 (3.75 mm), size 6 (4 mm), & size 7 (4.5 mm)

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Set of five 8" (20 cm) steel needles $6.00. Please specify type:
size 00 (1.75 mm), size 0 (2.00 mm), & size 1 (2.25 mm)

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Bone knitting needles and steel knitting needles for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and museum interpreters.

From left 7" bone, 8" steel, and 10" bone knitting needles.

Bone Stiletto

Stilettos are used to force the weave of the fabric open to make an eyelet hole. Because the fabric is not cut, the eyelet is stronger and resists ripping. Thread buttons can also be made with these. Directions for making eyelets and thread buttons are included in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing Book I with an eyelet variation in Book II. A fancy carved ivory stiletto is on page 80 of Taunton, Nerylla, 1997, Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries; Antique Collectors' Club Ltd.

$4.00 3" (7.6 cm)
$4.00 4" (10 cm)

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Bone stiletto for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and museum interpreters

Bone Bodkin

Bodkins are handy tools used to thread stays or the backs of breeches. These flat bodkins are of smooth bone of about 2 3/4" long and about 1/8" (3 mm) thick and 1/4" (6 mm) on the flat at the eye. They are based on a silver one on page 15 of Taunton, Nerylla, 1997, Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries; Antique Collectors' Club Ltd. In The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London of 1753 "I am wife to the prosecutor, and am a stay-maker, and live in Rosemary-lane; the prisoner worked for me, she left my house, I missed the stew pan, bodkin, and scissors".

$5.00

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Bone bodkin for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and historic interpreters.

Sewing Needles

We have several different types and sizes of sewing needles. Sharps are used for most fine sewing such as with linen thread in the 90/2 to 120/2 linen thread range.
$1.00

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Crewel needles are identical to sharps but have a larger eye and are therefore best for sewing with coarser threads such as 16/2, 35/2, and 50/3 linen thread.
$1.00

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Millinery needles are similar to sharps but are longer and therefore useful for basting and pleating.
$1.00

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Tapestry needles have a blunt tip and a large eye and are the best for making thread (Dorset) buttons and cross stitch.
$1.00

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new New!

Glovers needles (aka leather needles and wedge needles) are used for sewing leather like the binding of a pair of stays. They have a triangular point made to pierce leather without tearing it.
$4.00

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Sewing needles from left to right sharps, crewel, milinery, tapestry and glovers. Sewing needles of five different types.

Button Stick

These hardwood button sticks are used to make thread (Dorset) buttons for shirts and other undergarments. They are each hand crafted by our own craftsman in Illinois Territory out of walnut and maple. Directions for making thread buttons are included in The Lady's Guide to Plain Sewing Book 1. Linen thread 16/2 in white, half bleached, or unbleached work well to make thread buttons and you can use a blunt tapestry needle to make these. Button sticks also work as a stiletto for making strong eyelets.

$3.00

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Button stick for making Dorset buttons for 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and historic interpreters.

Waxer

Waxers were kept in sewing kits to wax linen thread so that the thread passes easily through the fabric. These mother of pearl waxers contain pure bee's wax, are about 7/8" (22 mm) across and about 3/8" (1 cm) thick.

$10.00

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An elegant mother of pearl waxer.

Bee's Wax

Bee's wax was used to wax and smooth the outside of linen thread so the thread does not fray as it is pulled through the fabric. Just hold the thread against the wax with your finger and pull the thread. Coat both sides and sew. Wax may also be used to initially hold thread on thread winders and to keep tops on containers.

$0.75

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Bees wax for waxing linen thread for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and historic interpreters.

Knotting Shuttle

Knotting shuttles are used to make knots in thread or cord to be used in embroidery or as trim for linens. Knotting was done in the 17th and 18th centuries whereas a slightly different process, tatting, was more common in the 19th century. This 3" bone shuttle has a center hole to secure your thread and is pleasingly smooth in your hand. See pages 66-67 or Taunton, Nerylla, 1997, Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries; Antique Collectors' Club Ltd. For making tatting lace try white 90/2 linen thread.

$7.00

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Bone knotting shuttle is an important needlework tool for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and historic interpreter's sewing baskets.

Steel Straight Pins

These are simple strong 1 3/4" straight pins. Often we are asked if we have pins to hold a short or bed gown closed. These pins look vary similar to originals although they are not hand made.
$0.50

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Straight pins for 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreters.

Steel Dressmaker's Pins

These are packets of 100 simple strong 1 1/16" straight dressmaker's pins. They are the normal size used for most everyday sewing needs. Although they are not hand made and do not have the rolled top charecteristic of those from the early 19th century and before, these pins look similar to originals. Dressmaker's pins will work well while sewing at home when expensive authentic pins are not required.
$0.50

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Straight pins for 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreters.