Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Flag Sewing Kit

Today is Flag Day and because this year is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War I thought I'd share this little flag sewing kit I own. The antique box is in the front, a cardboard box covered with striped silk and a little navy blue wool. You can get an idea of its size from the small scissors I added and the thimble. The reproduction box is behind it.

It may very well have been a patriotic Union knicknack, made for a soldier's knapsack or for a Ladies' Fair. I didn't notice at first that it's supposed to be a flag. The blue wool in the pincushion area has bled into the red and white striped silk, making two shades of purple rather than a patriotic stripe. And the blue field is just a rectangle until white pins representing stars are placed in the proper constellation.

The original still has its inventory of sewing tools: a thimble, glass-headed pins, a tape measure and two spools of thread, one in a tiny bag made from a purplish delaine dress fabric (to the right of the box above). A wooden spool, now empty, is stitched inside the bag. The seamstress guided her thread through a small hole in the bag, which prevented the spool from rolling away.

Here's a sketch of the reproduction with the lid closed.

Sketch with lid open
It's 4-1/2" long and 1-1/2" wide

  • Red striped fabric: About 10" x 14"
  • Blue fabric: About 2" x 4-1/2"
  • Cardboard (or substitue template plastic): About 8" x10"
  • For the pincushion part, a pinch of wool roving or other stuffing.
  • 13 white glass-headed pins

From the cardboard cut the following
  • 3 sides: 4-1/2" x 1-1/2"
  • 3 ends: 1-1/2" square
  • 1 lid: 3-1/4" x 1-1/2"
From the red stripe cut the following:
  • 3 sides 5" x 4"
  • 3 ends 4" x 2"
  • 1 lid 4" x 3-3/4"
(Be sure the stripes are going the long way so the top and sides look like a flag)

From the blue fabric cut 1 piece  1-3/4" x 4"

Covering the Cardboard
Make finished sides of the box which are then whip-stitched together by hand. You need three rectangular sides, three square ends and a rectangular lid.

Make a little pillow case for all the striped pieces, by folding each piece of fabric in half with the right sides together. Stitch along two other sides and turn inside out, insert the cardboard and then whip stitch the last side closed.

Constructing the Box

Attach three striped rectangles together with a whip stitch as shown, stitching on the inside of the seams so the stitches barely show on the outside of the box.

Add one of the end pieces, which holds the pincushion by whip stitching it to the base of the box 1-1/2" in from the left side.
Adjust that end to stand up as you turn up the sides of the box.
Add the ends of the box by whip stitching them on three sides.

Stuff the pincushion part, which is the smaller compartment on the left here, with wool roving.
Fold the blue field fabric in half and whip stitch it to the box above the stuffing.

Add the lid to the box by whip stitching one end to the right end.

Finish the Sewing Kit
Stick pins in an arrangement, a circle, a star or a square field.

You could add a piece of batting to each of the cardboard pieces to make the box a little puffier.


  1. Thanks for sharing your little flag sewing kit and for providing a pattern. I love to see vintage items like this and it is an added bonus to be able to recreate one.

  2. Wonderful old box and tutorial.


  3. Thanks for the instructions...great little project!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful project - it will add to my impression greatly!

  5. What a darling antique box to have in your collection. It is such a clever little box for one's travels. Your reproduction is every bit as cute as the antique one. Thank you so much for sharing the pattern with us.

  6. Wonderful, thank you so much for posting. A friend made one that I posted on my blog. It is adorable!!