Photo -- See Caption Below

Sewing Group

Darning Egg

With three active sons and a husband who walked everywhere, socks were constantly wearing out at the heel or toe.  Mary Lincoln could use something like this darning bell to help keep the sock taut while she sewed up the holes, using the spool of thread kept in the bell with the thread fed through a small hole in the bell.  Needles were stored in the handle.

Wood. H 15, Dia 5.2 cm
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, LIHO 277

Basket, Needlework

Mary Lincoln kept items needing mending in this basket.  Although she didn’t make most of her good clothes, she made her own undergarments and work dresses.  She also did most of the sewing for her sons.  Mrs. Lincoln proudly boasted that she made most of her husband’s shirts until they left for Washington.

Reed. H 14, Dia 21.5 cm
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, LIHO 278

Needlework Kit

Roll-up case for sewing supplies, knobs of green velvet on ends for pincushions, holds thimble and scissors.

A roll-up sewing kit was handy to have.  Usually it had a pincushion, thimble holder, felt to hold pins and needles and a slot for a pair of scissors.  Other thin pockets could house other items or scraps.

Silk, leather, velvet, ribbon. L 21.75, W 6, Dia 1.75 cm
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, LIHO 1288


Scissors with finger loop handles.
Small scissors were useful when sewing. These fit nicely into a pocket in the housewife (LIHO 1288).

Steel. L 9, W 4, D .3 cm
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, LIHO 1397

Sewing Clamp

Used to help pull the fabric taught while sewing to get an even seam, this sewing bird would be clamped to the edge of a table and the fabric held in its beak. Parts of the bird also served as pin cushions.

Brass, velvet. H 13, W 5, D 9 cm
Lincoln Home National Historic Site, LIHO 1597