One activity that would have occurred regularly in and around the home was sewing, and this was particularly important in a household with as many 9 to 11 people at any given time. Lost buttons and torn clothing required repairs, and the Williamses also probably made some clothes from new or recycled fabric, especially for the young children. They may have also made and repaired bed sheets, pillow cases, window curtains, etc. The use of quilts was common in the nineteenth century, and the Williamses may have made and owned a variety of quilts made from scraps of fabric salvaged from worn-out clothes.
The sewing artifacts shown here are (a) straight pins (used to pin clothes while sewing), (b) safety pins (used for fastening diapers and other clothing), (c) scissors (for cutting fabric), and (d) a thimble (used to protect a finger while pushing sewing needles). The first safety pin was patented in 1849, and we recovered three types of safety pins that date from the late 1800s, as shown in the two patent drawings from 1878 (e) and 1888 (f).