What is a hussif?

What is a hussif?

If you look up the word Hussif you will find that it is described as an alternative form of hussy which originally meant a sewing-case and that is our clue. Traditional hussifs were a long strip of fabric pockets that can rolled or folded to be stored. They contained sewing items such needles pins, small sewing tools such scissors etc. In other words a hussif is a basic sewing kit. The word itself is old and simple sewing kits used to be given to soldiers as their “housewife”.

hussif sewing kit closedToday we would call them sewing kits or craft organiser. When I said that I wanted a cross between a traditional hussif and modern organiser I meant that I wanted the design to be big enough to hold the hand sewing needs of a contemporary embroiderer. I wanted pockets enough to fit my needs yet not so large that I did not use it.

I have made one hussif before above is what it looks like closed and below is the interior.

hussif sewing kit open

I like some aspects to it, but to be honest it not big enough to be of practical use. So my next hussif will be larger. I will do some things the same however such as using the press stud popper tape to secure the plastic zip lock bags only this time around the stud will be more heavy duty! I will also include more elastic straps to hole marking pencils and of course a pocket for my CQ templates.

I have done a scout around the net to find a few links for folks to explore. Do follow them as there is lots of eyecandy

Carol Lindberg made a wonderful hussif and bag. I have always wanted to set aside some time to design and make another hussif but I am sure seeing Carols Lindberg’s hussif inside a bag was the germ of the idea to make a matching workbag. Here are a number of hussifs made by CQ Mag online readers and a there is a second batch here.

They are great to make as you can keep it small and simple or make them very complex with all sorts of pockets to store sewing tools. They make great gifts and yet are not a huge project like a quilt.

This post is in response to readers questions about my post written with much excitement last Wednesday. I have since started piecing my hussif so stay tuned as I will try and write  a work in progress report each Wednesday.

Have you made a hussif?

If so let us know in the comments. If you have a photo online, leave a link (add the http bit to your address and it becomes a live link people can click and see what you have done)


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  1. I recently inherited an engraved Hussif from my Dear Mother’s dresser drawer… I had no idea what it was so I contacted my aunt and was informed as to what it was! It is in a bolster type roll that fits in the palm of my hand. It is red in color and is made of thin leather completely hand sewn with gathered bolster ends… It has a flap that rolls around it. The inside has a muslin shaped heart back stitched to hold the needles… The outside is gold engraved in English Type “Abby Florence Hillman Feb. 16 1883…No Kidding! I WOULD LOVE TO POST PHOTOS BUT I CAN’T GET THEM TO LOAD FROM MY PHONE TO MY LAPTOP… It is a beautiful piece and “Abby” would be my Great-Grandmother on my Mothers side… Not letting this gem out of my sight!

    Virginia Reames
    1. Sounds like you have a wonderful family treasure there. The thing I love about such items is knowing they would have been used. It is safe to say most women of that time had stitching skills and employed them!

  2. I’ve come across your post while trying to explain to my grandson (aged 21) what a hussif is. He badly needs one, as do all university students! My one was issued to me 60 years ago when I was a midshipman in the Royal Navy. Strictly utilitarian in design (and navy blue in colour, of course!); so I won’t send a photo. But still very useful. I remain (now aged 78) a primitive sewer: but all men should at least be able to sew on their buttons and do simple repairs – just in case lovely folk like you aren’t at hand to help out! I’m about to take it with me on our Christmas holiday…..

    Christopher MacRae
  3. I’m so glad you wrote about what I call a sewing kit or a sewing clutch. You call it a hussif, wow, who would have known that? I have been making sewing kits for over a year and they are habit forming. Now I can’t seem to stop. Thanks for all your great information and examples, I am really excited now. Some of my sewing kits are here; crazyvictoriana.blogspot.com.
    thanks, Sharon

  4. I am looking forward to seeing your progress on your new hussif. I am thinking that a hussif would be a wonderful first project for me, not only useful but something to keep as a benchmark on my growth and progress. Thank you for all that you share!

    Judy Carlson
  5. This sounds like the sort of thing I need to keep my area of the living room in check! The fact that I already have two sets of Japanese artist’s drawers on the coffee table is neither here nor there, lol.

    BTW, I always thought that the word hussif was a contraction of housewife, as those that soldiers took with them held all the housewifely things they would need to do for themselves. I love words and their derivation so it is quite likely I will now go on a quest for hussif.

  6. Sharon – your hussif is really beautiful. I said to Peter, my husband, “here is word that might crop up in your crosswords – bet you don’t know what it is!” He explained it in almost identical words to yours. He didn’t have one in the RAF which explains a lot!

    Andy LW
  7. Somebody else asked the question – I just waited for the explanation.
    (But I somehow remeber that it appeared before already – was it on your blog?)Thank you so much, Sharon, It is interesting and yours is beautiful.
    The word sounds so Arab!

  8. This is wonderful Sharon. I posted about my father’s WWII hussif -made of strong cotton fabric and very grubby old and worn now, some time ago, but it still holds some of the original items for uniform repair. Absolutely love the eye candy and I shall be following the progress of this project avidly!x

  9. I like your hussif. I have drawn up a number of sketches in my journal for a needelcase/hussif but haven’t done anything else about it [including a place for my stencils :)]. Now is the time I think to take action. Thanks for the ‘push’.


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