18th Century Women’s Pockets

Last updated: Feb 25, 2024

These pockets are organized by the type of ornamentation: crewel embroidered pockets, canvaswork embroidered pockets, silk embroidered pockets, other embroidered pockets, patchwork pockets, quilted pockets, and plain pockets and pockets without needlework adornment. (Another page has links to illustrations where a woman’s pockets are visible.)

Embroidered pockets: wool/crewel embroidery

  • Cooper Hewitt 1957-105-1, 18th century
  • Cooper Hewitt 1957-157-6, 18th century
  • Chester County History Center 1993.744, a linen pocket with crewel wool embroidery
  • Winterthur 1966.1359, North America, 18th century
  • Winterthur 1958.1521, North America, 18th century
  • Meg Andrews 7615, a pocket dated 1718, “with a central upright exotic Oriental style flower with a twisted stem emerging from from a small hillock with four plants emerging from the base, further flower stems above, all in shades of deep pink, pale pink, green, yellow, orange and blue on a twill weave wool and flax ground, the pocket opening edged with brown cotton, the back pieced”
  • V&A T.730B-1913, linen pocket embroidered with wool, England, c. 1700-1725
  • V&A T.697:B, C-1913, pair of linen twill pockets embroidered with wool, England, c. 1700-1725
  • Winterthur 1969.0691, North America, c. 1725-1775
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1958-180, crewel on linen cotton twill, America, c. 1740-1770
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1963-11, crewel on linen cotton, New England, c. 1740-1770
  • Winterthur 1958.1758, North America, c. 1740-1775
  • Met 2009.300.2102, wool embroidery on linen pocket, America, 1750
  • Winterthur 1958.2868, North America, 1750-1760
  • Winterthur 1954.0055.001, North America, 1750-1775
  • Winterthur 1978.0183, North America, 1750-1780
  • DAR 61.53, “Woman's pocket constructed from natural linen (front) and green silk (back) [the silk here is certainly a replacement for an original more sturdy linen backing and binding]. The front of the pocket contains an elaborate crewel (worsted wool thread) floral embroidery; the colors used are pink, yellow, green, and blue. The pattern is symmetrical, and consists of one continuous (from top to bottom and around) floral vine design to which the flowers are connected. In the center of the bottom is an additional stemmed flower that rises to the edge of the slit. The slit is 8 3/8" long, bound with green silk and a smaller scale floral vine border. The back is constructed from green silk that is lined with natural glazed cotton which may be a later addition. Stitches include chain, satin, stem, and herringbone in shades of pink, yellow, green, blue, and brown. Cross-stitched initials AP are stitched on either side of the central flower,” United States, 1750-1790
  • DAR 2623, “Linen pocket with crewel (worsted wool) embroidery on front, bound in several block-printed brown cottons, with blue and white braided cotton thread ties. The embroidery is done in shades of blue, in a symmetrical design of stylized roses and other flowers and leaves emerging from an undulating vine which reaches up either side of the center slit. Stitches include chain, loop, buttonhole, and large French knots at the centers of the flowers and creating the small buds. The front of the pocket is lined with white linen,” Dummerston, Vermont, 1750-1790
  • DAR 74.176, “ The embroidery design is a symmetrical arrangement of stylized leaves, flowers and thistles, executed in green, blue, yellow and gold wool. The filling stitches used on each of the large motifs are the satin and herringbone stitches. Each large motif is outlined with the feather stitch. Some smaller leaves are also done in feather stitch. The vine which connects the large motifs are done in outline stitch. Small areas of satin stitch dot the pocket and are arranged like the points of a diamond. In each diamond, the opposite dots are of the same color (brown or blue). The pocket is backed with several pieces of blue and tan linen ticking in two different weaves … The front of the pocket is lined in the same two tickings, with a corner piece of the second ticking with pairs of stripes similarly placed in the upper corner. The edges of the pocket and slit are bound with a block printed off-white linen in a brown small scalloped design with dots inside each scallop. The ties attached to the top of the pocket are a blue and white striped wool tape,” United States, 1750-1790
  • Pocket made by Susanna Yeakel in the second half of the 18th century. “This crewel work pocket illustrates the impact the English neighbors had on the Schwenkfelders. This type of embroidery was much more associated with the English than it would have been with Germans, and was seen in 18th century America throughout New England and the Mid Atlantic. One of the Susanna Yeakels … stitched and sewed this treasure made of handspun linen with wool embroidery. On the reverse is her monogram 'S Y' in cross stitch.”
  • Winterthur 1958.2051, North America, c. 1750-1800
  • LACMA M.67.8.90a-b, cotton and linen embroidered in wool, England, 1753
  • PVMA 1915.18.04, linen pocket with crewel wool embroidery, c. 1760-1800
  • Old Sturbridge Village 26.67.21, c. 1760-1810: “Fabric at bottom front is a cotton and linen weave, which has been embroidered. Top and back fabrics of pocket are linen … Irregular placement of embroidery on both sides of opening indicates that the embroidery is a remnant remade into a pocket.”
  • Chester County History Center 1993.752, homespun linen pocket with crewel embroidered flowers and vines, c. 1765
  • Old Sturbridge Village 26.67.4, crewel embroidery on linen, c. 1770-1810
  • Museum of London 35.35/2, c. 1770-1780; “Pair of white linen pockets embroidered with wool thread in a floral design; backed and bound with plain canvas; both pockets joined with linen ribbon ties.”
  • National Trust 1350100, c. 1775-1800; “Made from cream cotton dimity and lined with cream linen. It is embroidered in wool with a vase with a rose and other flowers and a trailing stem with pinks, other flowers and leaves.”
  • Winterthur 1966.1126, North America, 1780-1840
  • Met 2009.300.2241, America, c. 1784; “The vibrant and exuberant design of this example probably was worked by an untrained embroiderer at home who worked the design freehand. The motifs of roses, tulips and carnations are similar to those in samplers worked in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the fourth quarter of the 18th century. The gradation and shading of the greens and the general black outlining of the stems and central motif seem to be derived from English crewelwork.”
  • MFA 40.80, crewel embroidered pocket with the balloon ascent of Vincent Lunardi, England, 1787

Embroidered pockets: wool/canvaswork embroidery

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art 1930-30-36, pocket with Irish stitch in wool and silk, America, mid-18th century
  • A pair of women’s flamestitch pockets, c. 1760-1780, in Fitting & Proper; “fronts worked in multicolor flamestitch in a geometric pattern on off-white linen with an off-white linen linning and backing, bound in green wool tape”
  • Tassenmuseum Hendrikje 1037, English flamestitched pockets with the initials ‘BL’ and dated 1766
  • Skinner Auctions 2412, Lot 25, two wool and linen canvaswork pockets “worked in an Irish stitch, in multicolored geometric patterns in shades of red, green, blue, and yellow, bound with red wool twill tape, lined and backed with linen”

Embroidered pockets: silk embroidery

  • V&A 1411-1900, unfinished pocket of linen embroidered with silk, England, c. 1700-1725
  • V&A T.281&A-1910, pair of linen pockets embroidered with silk, England, c. 1700-1725
  • V&A CIRC.86-1938, a pair of linen pockets with silk embroidery, England, c. 1700-1725
  • V&A T.208&A-1970, pocket-backs of linen embroidered with silk, England, c. 1700-1725
  • Met 1974.101.1, pockets with silk embroidery, Britain, c. 1700-1750
  • V&A T.42-1935, linen pocket embroidered with yellow silk backstitching, England, c. 1718-1720
  • V&A T.41&A-1935, unfinished pocket fronts, showing ink design on linen, partially embroidered in silk, England, c. 1718-1720
  • Winterthur 1964.0982, New England, c. 1725-1800
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1989-437, silk on linen, England, c. 1737
  • LACMA M.59.21.1a-b, outline embroidery in silk on linen, England, mid-18th century
  • LACMA M.67.8.89a-b, silk embroidered on linen, England, mid-18th century
  • DAR 2423.2, “White linen pocket, lined and backed in white linen, the front embroidered with light blue silk thread in a symmetrical design of stylized flowers and leaves growing from a curving vine growing up either side of the center pocket slit. Embroidery is done in a combination of cross, stem, seed, and blanket stitches. It was worked before the pocket was assembled since the second layer of cloth, or lining, covers the stitches of the first piece,” United States, 1750-1790
  • Historic New England 1991.1425, linen pocket with blue silk embroidery, c. 1760-1800
  • Augusta Auction Apr 9 2014, Lot 154, 18th-early 19th century: “Homespun natural linen F, B, & lining, dark & medium indigo blue cross & satin stitch embroidery in designs of fanciful flowers, fronds & 1 large-beaked bird, edges bound in blue on white stripe cotton”
  • Williamsburg 1958-409, “tabby-woven natural linen embroidered in a pattern of trailing vines with roses, carnations, and other flowers in colored silk … Face fabric was reused from an existing piece of silk embroidery, not originally embroidered in a pocket shape,” England or Europe, 1770-1800
  • MESDA 2400, probably made by Martha Elizabeth Spach of Salem, North Carolina, in 1780; “Woman’s linen tie pocket embroidered with flowers in silk. The edges were originally bound in narrow pink silk ribbon, which is now mostly disintigrated; the ties are also missing. The leaves are shades of green and the flowers are faded pinks and blues. The front is lined with the same hand printed brown stripe (linen) as the back.”
  • Winterthur 2013.0031.103, cross stitch, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1781
  • Met 1979.346.200, embroidered linen pockets, America, 1796

Embroidered pockets: other embroidery

Patchwork pockets

Quilted pockets

Fabric pockets without other needlework adornment

  • Met 1979.346.107, linen pockets, America
  • Winterthur 1960.0248, block-printed cotton, England, 1720-1730
  • Winterthur 1969.3102, block-printed cotton, England, 1735-1745
  • Dudmaston National Trust 814614.13, 1740-1760; “White cotton pocket: faced at opening and tied with white linen tape”
  • Chester county History Center 1993.765, double pockets, fronts made of a floral print cotton, 1749
  • Pair of woman’s printed pockets, c. 1750, in Fitting & Proper: “multicolor floral print on off-white linen, lined and backed with off-white linen”
  • DAR 65.139, “Plain white linen pocket, sides and center slit bound in the same white linen. Front is lined with a lighter weight, looser weave linen, and the same linen is used on the backing,” made in Danvers, Massachusetts (possibly by Sarah Andrews Page), 1750-1790
  • Chester County History Center 1993.763, “Brown cotton print front, white linen back; each slit & waist top bound in different brown prints,” c. 1754-1817
  • PVMA 1915.18.05, cotton calico, America, second half of the 18th century
  • Killerton National Trust 1367207, c. 1750-1760; “Woven marcella pocket, central slit and cotton tie tape.”
  • V&A T.150-1970, a pocket of matelassé linen (originally woven into a pocket shape), England, c. 1760-1775
  • Williamsburg 1953-368, block-printed cotton, England, 1760-1800
  • MFA 98.1802a, single piece of pocket-shaped calico with slit; English, used in New England, last quarter of the 18th century
  • National Museum of American History CS.006687B, pocket in striped fabric, 1770-1830
  • Cooper Hewitt 2016-35-87, “Pair of pockets in brown striped linen on a linen base, held together with woven tape,” America, 1775-1825
  • Dimity pocket belonging to Abigail Adams, late 18th century; “Measuring a full fourteen inches in length, this pocket is composed of eight pieces of dimity sewn together with an opening halfway down the front. Two ties are attached to the top seams of the pocket to be secured around the waist. The simple and sturdy striped fabric of the pocket--the polar opposite of the sheer cotton known today as dimity--suggests that this was a utilitarian garment to be tied under an apron or worn beneath a skirt and accessed through an opening in the outer garments.”
  • Newport Historical Society 2012.34.7, pockets made from an “ivory unbalanced plain weave fabric”
  • Woman's pocket, c. 1780; “Printed cotton, probably Indian. Slit bound with a different, blue and white printed cotton. 15.25" long by 10.5" wide at base.” (Wallace House, New Jersey)
  • Winterthur 2005.0046, New England, 1785-1795
  • MFA 99.664.22, cotton pocket with one remaining tape tie; Lexington, late 18th or early 19th century
  • Colonial Williamsburg 1964-411, white dimity, New York, c. 1785-1810
  • Met C.I.40.159.4, striped linen, American, 1789
  • DAR 2010.51.1, “Blue and white striped linen pocket, backed and bound in the same, the slit bound in a blue and white resist printed cotton with small abstract floral designs,” Connecticut, 1790-1820
  • DAR &, “a pair of white pockets of striped cotton dimity, backed in white linen. The slit is bound with linen tape; the edges of the pocket are not bound,” Pennsylvania (Margaret Evans), 1790-1840
  • DAR &, “a pair of white cotton dimity pockets attached together by narrow linen plainweave tape … and backed with plain, unglazed linen. The slit is bound in linen tape and the outer edge of the pocket is not bound,” Pennsylvania (Margaret Evans), 1790-1840
  • DAR 2007.A & 2007.B, “a pair of white and brown checked linen pockets, bound with the same,” Kentucky, 1800
  • Cooper Hewitt 1960-81-13, pocket with ribbed-weave cotton front and plain-woven linen back
  • Chester County History Center 1993.762, green wool pockets with linen backs, 18th or 19th century
  • Chester County History Center 1993.772, pockets with ribbed cotton fronts and linen backs, 18th or 19th century
  • Cooper Hewitt 1960-81-14, “Women's pocket with an off-white linen back and off-white cotton face, with block-printed binding and area around pocket opening with small sprigs of red flowers. Cotton fabric is patterned with an all-over diaper pattern.”