I Made My Sister a Hussy

So the title of this post might be a bit click-bait-y, but probably only if you haven’t been following the adventures of the historical sewing community and their obsession with creating amazing pockets and sewing kits, which apparently were at one time called housewifes, hussifs, or hussies.

While I won’t deny some of the questionable decisions of historical costumers on social media, I do have to say that there is actually a lot of really great, well researched, thoughtful, and inspirational content available. I can’t deny that this hussif, what I have thus far been calling “the super secret project,” was heavily influenced by the YouTube video from Sewstine:

If you haven’t heard of Sewstine you should really check her out – her embroidery digitization is amazing and she created the most beautiful gowns. Her videos are a great combination of information, research, and step-by-step tutorials and I highly recommend giving them a view.

There are lots of other instructional videos on making Housewives/Hussifs, only a small sample of which you might want to check out below:

While I did look at a lot of the inspiration videos, what I really loved about Sewstine’s version was the embroidery. She of course used files which she had previously digitized and were meaningful to her, but since I was making my first hussif as a gift for my sister, I decided to go with a thematic inspiration that I knew she would like – the novel The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

While I would have loved to digitize some of the cover art to make it very specific to the novels, I was a bit short on time and ended up purchasing a lot of designs from Urban Threads, which has some of my favorite embroidery designs and styles. I used my embroidery software (I use Embrilliance) to combine the designs and get them ready for the stitch-out.

I also made the (possibly foolish?) decision to embroider primarily in metallic threads. I’m happy to say that, which I did have some thread breaks it actually wasn’t bad considering the total design for the entire hussif was over 100,000 stitches and took several hoopings and over 6 hours to complete. (Note: I didn’t run my machine at full speed to better accommodate the metallic thread choice.) I did some limited test stitches for areas I was most concerned about; either areas that had a lot of fine detail or very dense satin stitches. The machine handled both really well! I did use an add-on spool holder to help run the thread into the machine; I’m positive this is not how it was intended to be used, but it actually seems to help quite a bit to reduce twisting that causes tension and snapping of the metallic threads.

I spend several very late nights babysitting the embroidery machine, then one panicked day to get the rest of the hussif put together before gifting it to my sister. I pretty much followed Sewstine’s video as a tutorial, though I think I would probably change a few things when I make another one of these in the future.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the result, though there are a few places where the registration of the design is a bit off (my hoop popped open – I stopped it before total disaster but there are a few spots that could have been better). I also wish I could have made the silk a bit smoother on some of the designs, but I also sort of knew I was gambling with the design density going into the project.

It’s not perfect, but overall I’m so happy with how it came together and my sister was so excited!

I’m not going to do a full pattern review because really it was just me mathing out a bunch of rectangles based on approximating information that Sewstine provided in her video, so it’s not exactly what I’d call a “pattern”. However, I think there are a few important things to note:

Materials

  • Silk taffeta is from Silk Baron. I found the shipping to be very fast and the quality to be very good.
  • The embroidery designs were from Urban Threads.
  • The metallic threads were from Superior Threads, which seem to be my Janome 500e’s preference when it comes to metallic threads.
  • The batting I used for stabilization came from leftovers in my stash.
  • Ribbon is from Renaissance Fabrics.
  • Wool for the needle book is leftover from the Accidental Jawa Cape.
  • Elastic for the seam ripper holder is from the stash.

Notes for Next Time

Um, yes, there will be a next time. I made this as a gift, which mean that, obviously, I still don’t have a sewing kit for my hand sewing supplies and I’ve decided I really need one. For my version, I really want to digitize some nerdy book art and create my own embroidery designs, which will obviously take longer than just purchasing them from another website. I also think that I could probably avoid a decent amount of hand sewing on the pockets if I changed up the construction order a bit. So probably I will do this for next time. Which might seem a bit weird to make a hand sewing kit, then avoid hand sewing, but I think it might lead to a cleaner and sturdier finish in some cases.

Conclusion

So, overall, I’m really pleased with how this turned out and I think my sister is really happy to have this hussif to house her sewing supplies. It’s been really difficult to plan out and make this super secret project and keep it super secret, but it has finally been made and gifted and I’m so happy I was able to make it for my sister.


7 thoughts on “I Made My Sister a Hussy

  1. What an amazing gift. Stunning embroidery. I need something like this (plainer) for travelling. I’m not worried about historical accuracy and I’m a fan of velcro over tie closures, but the principle is perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

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