Tuesday 8 April 2014

Sewing Roll

For a while I have seen many Swedish textile crafters, historical costumiers and the like make sewing rolls (or mesma/marsma as thay are often called). Sewing rolls don’t have a historic base in most of Sweden (unlike the housewives of other places), as it seems to have been a Sami thing here, and, as Anna pointed out in a discussion about them, as in so many cases all over the world, the majority of a countries population, thinking themselves very civilized, don’t want much to do with the indigenous people’s traditions. It is however a very clever thing for when you need to bring your sewing kit along when travelling, which is probably why the Sami used it, being nomads. As many people today go away from home more or less frequently, and many sewing people bring their projects with them on vacation, to school, work, the beach, sewing groups etc., it comes in handy. I’ve been meaning to make one myself for years, but somehow I never got round to it, as there have been so many other things to do. The past few weeks however, the making of sewing rolls has really taken off in a sewing group on facebook, and I fell for the pressure and finally made one. 

Neatly rolled up, with braided wool ties keeping it closed.

As I intend it for modern use I could go for whatever design I wanted. I chose to be inspired by 19th century rural folk textiles from my county Skåne, and the thing turned out to be a nice marriage between a historic item from the far North of Sweden and historic textiles from the far South (which would still considered quite far North by most of the world).

I used heavy wool left over from my folk costume skirt (same as I used in my pincushion), and embroidered it with wool yarns - wool embroidery of high quality is often seen in cushions and covers in this area during the 18th and 19thcenturies. 

 The outside.

 The lining is made from lighter wool, as are two of the pockets and the bound edge.

Proof of a mishap and change of plans: originally I had another embroidery here 
(my initials and the current year), but it had a quite severe, military look about it that I didn't like. 
I unpicked the embroidery and did this instead, when the pocket was already stitched 
firmly in place - thus the now uneven edges. Sigh.

The pockets are all lined with striped cotton, slightly resembling the ones often seen in country women’s and children’s aprons in 19th century Skåne.

The small pocket will be good for holding Nalbinding needles and such.

The metal button is supposed to bring the thought to the silver buckles, buttons, chains, clasps etc. worn with the folk costumes for best. 

 The lid of the pocket closes with a sewn loop.

The bottom pocket is made from the test knitting I made before beginning my folk costume spedetröja a few years ago. It is bound with a strip of silk, as the finest spedetröjor was. I’d been saving the test piece for this purpose, thinking it too pretty to throw away. 

 Knitted pocket bound with silk.

I’m quite pleased with how the sewing roll turned out – it’s almost a little piece of art in itself, and will look nice in my sewing room, and when I bring it along with me.

Detail of the embroidery on the outside.

I have a new skirt to post about as well, that have been pending for a couple of weeks, but I need some photos first, and in my present state of late pregnancy, I don’t often feel like going through all the hassle of a photo shoot, not even a small one.


  1. This is adorable! I want to make one now - it looks like a sweet little project with a great deal of usefulness.

    I think some of the stitches you used are also beautiful - especially the lattice stitch in the leaves.

  2. Kul att du gjorde en, och fin är den! De är ju så himla användbara.

  3. Very nice, Sarah. :) I have been wanting to make one myself for ages now. Yours just added some extra inspiration (and motivation). :)


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