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 during the earliest appearance of luceting as found in needlework collections although there is little evidence of their use from the medieval to the 18th century (but controversy exists on this issue). Lucets were certainly used during the Victorian and may have gotten their start at this time. 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.

Long Handle Wood Lucets

Long handled lucets appear to be more common during the Vicotrian at which time luceting may have began. 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.

Sheesham 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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Sheesham Needle Holder
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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Large Sewing Box

As the American colonies withdrew from their king a need for nationalism arose. Along with this nationalism symbols were used mostly in money and flags but also found their way into other itmes. This sewing box (could also be used as a shoe box) is 11 by 7 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches deep with hand painted emblem for the 1775 Continental $1/6 paper bill along with a paper copy documenting the symbol.

FUGIO ("Time flies") MIND YOUR BUSINESS appeared on the front side of the 1/6th Continental dollar bill. This shows a sundial and beaming sun. The design is believed to have come from Benjamin Franklin. This bill has two symbols; one on each face. It appears it was originally intended to mint the same design onto a silver dollar coin; however only a few pewter pieces were struck.

AMERICAN CONGRESS - WE ARE ONE appeared on the reverse side of the 1/6th Continental dollar bill. This shows a circle of 13 linked rings gearing the names of each rebelling colony surrounding a sun and sunbeams with the motto within. This symbol was also painted onto a buff silk regimental color between February and late summer of 1776. The color was presumably issued to an unknown New England Continental Army regiment shortly afterwards, for it was captured (still furled) with American army baggage during the retreat from Fort Ticonderoga in July 1777. A second occurrence of this symbol outside its money came when a German artist depicted a rebel soldier in white fringed hunting shirt with a brimless black leather cap with a similar device painted on the cap's front piece.

$40.00

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Hand painted sewing box with symbol of early American nationalism.Hand painted sewing box with symbol of early American nationalism symbol on side.Hand painted sewing box with symbol of early American nationalism symbol on side.

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.

$35.00

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Hand sewn houswife for 18th and 19th century reenactors and historic interpreters.
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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.
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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.
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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 6 (4 mm), & size 7 (4.5 mm)

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Set of five 8" (20 cm) steel needles $8.50.Please specify type:
size 00 (1.75 mm), size 0 (2.00 mm), size 1 (2.25 mm) & size 2 (2.75 mm)

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Set of five 8" (20 cm) steel needles $8.50.
size 0000 (1.25 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.

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Bone Stiletto

Stilettos are used to force the weave of the fabric open to make an eyelet hole or to insert the shank of a metal button to allow the button to sit flush to the fabric. 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. Directions for attaching shanked buttons using a stiletto may be found in The Workman's Guide to Tailoring Stitches and Techniques. A fancy carved ivory stiletto is on page 80 of Taunton, Nerylla, 1997, Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries; Antique Collectors' Club Ltd.

$4.00 2 1/2" (6.3 cm)
$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 stiletto for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and museum interpreters
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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.
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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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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.
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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.
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Tailors' Chalk

Tailors' chalk is used to make temporary marks on cloth. Use a chalk that will contrast with the color fabric you plan to mark. Red works well on white as well as most colors.

For those new to sewing, marking straight seams with chalk makes it easier to sew in a straight line. Chalk works well for marking and laying out buttons and buttonhole spacing. Usually, seasoned tailors use chalk for marking a garment on a person to be sure the fit is perfect for that individual.

$2.00

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Tailors' chalk for marking on fabric.
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In several pictures of 17th and 18th century tailors' the chalk is illustrated as being triangular as opposed to rectangular. Artists frequently used red chalk however and although it's not pictured being used by tailors, shop advertisements do advertise red chalk. Because of this, at historic events and sites red, white or yellow triangular chalk may be preferred. Tailors' chalk is used to make temporary marks on cloth. Use a chalk that will contrast with the color fabric you plan to mark. Red works well on white as well as most colors whereas white works well on colors. In the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London the proceedings of a theft trial included "The pattern, and the quality of the cloth and my mark was the same as we lost, with the length of yards. My mark was on the outside. (Produced in Court; he points to the mark he made.) I bought the piece myself, and I made this mark on it. It is the letter B, which I always make with red chalk."

For those new to sewing, marking straight seams with chalk makes it easier to sew in a straight line. Chalk works well for marking and laying out buttons and buttonhole spacing. Usually, seasoned tailors use chalk for marking a garment on a person to be sure the fit is perfect for that individual.

$2.00

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Tailors' chalk for marking on fabric.
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Bee's Wax Cakes

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.

$2.25

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

newNew!

Bee's wax candles are clean, natural, dripless and slow burning. Pure bee's wax candles are very slow burning so you can expect an hour of beautiful soft yellow light per inch. These candles are 6 inches long so expect each to burn (when properly trimmed and erect) for 6 hours.

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. A candle may be used for this purpose just as a cake is. Just hold the thread against the candle 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.

$2.50 each

$27.00 dozen

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Bees wax candle for waxing linen thread for 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th centruy re-enactors and historic interpreters.
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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.
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Reproduction 18th Century Large Steel Straight Pins

new New!

These are simple strong 1 and 3/4" long straight pins in a packet of one dozen. Often we are asked if we have pins to hold a short gown or bed gown closed. These pins are reproduction tinned (whited) brass pins with wound and applied heads in period wrapper depicting the emblem of the Worshipful Company of Pinmakers, London c.1770. The fineness and strength are in correlation to not only original pins, but also the period definition in relation to best materials available, strength of wire, construction, sharpness, and purest tin used in the finish.
$25.00

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Straight pins for 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreters.
A large 1 3/4" reproduction pin surrounded by 1 1/4" dress makers pins. Straight pins for 17th, 18th and 19th centruy reenactors and historic interpreters.
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Reproduction 18th Century Dress Makers Steel Straight Pins

new New!

A necessity for any sewing basket. These are simple strong 1 and 1/4" long straight sewing pins in a packet of one dozen. These pins are reproduction tinned (whited) brass pins with wound and applied heads in period wrapper depicting the emblem of the Worshipful Company of Pinmakers, London c.1770. The fineness and strength are in correlation to not only original pins, but also the period definition in relation to best materials available, strength of wire, construction, sharpness, and purest tin used in the finish.
$25.00

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

These are simple strong 1 3/4" (4.5 mm) straight pins. Often we are asked if we have pins to hold a coarse to medium weight linen or wool 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.
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Medium Steel Straight Pins

These are simple strong 1 1/2" (3.9 mm) straight pins. Often we are asked if we have pins to hold a fine weight linen or cotton 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.