Sewing Basket with Miniature Inserts

Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis ("Sipsis") and Cultures of Origin: Abenaki, Penobscotearly 20th century

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum
Washington, DC, United States

This set consists of a sewing basket (a), sewing basket lid (b), pincushion (c), needle case (d), thimble case (e), thimble case lid (f), thimble (g), scissors case (h), a small Abenaki basket for ribbons/buttons/tape (i), and a lid for the little basket (j). Component parts a-h are Penobscot and original to the set; component parts i and j have a slight variation in design, are Abenaki in origin, and were added by the original collector and donor to augment the existing set so it would have a typical range of inserts. The pieces are primarily made of black ash splints. Parts a-h are attributed to Penobscot basket maker Camilla Sockalexis--also known by her Indian name, "Sipsis" (bird)--who in the mid 1930s offered a wide array of her basketry for sale at The Flume, a popular tourist destination in New Hampshire's White Mountains.

The sewing basket is tan with blue stripes around the top and bottom. The sewing basket lid matches the basket with rings of tan and blue covering the top with a circular handle in the center. The pincushion is tan with a blue bottom and a blue velvet top with two pins inserted in it. The needle case is circular with a blue wavy pattern along the edges, a blue center, and two blue rings attached to the outer edge. Inside the needle case is a piece of tan fabric with a needle pushed through it. The thimble case has a blue bottom, tan center and blue stripe around the top. The lid of the thimble case has a blue stripe near the edge and blue center. The thimble is a small, hollow, silver, metal, cup-like object meant to be worn over the finger while sewing for protection. It is dimpled near the top and the bottom. It is inscribed with "Germany" and "9." The scissor case is a Y-shaped object with an opening and attached blue ring at the wide end. The smaller ribbon basket is circular and tan in color with a blue bottom and a blue stripe around the top. The ribbon basket lid is circular with a round blue center.


  • Title: Sewing Basket with Miniature Inserts
  • Creator: Theresa Camilla Lyon Sockalexis ("Sipsis"), Cultures of Origin: Abenaki, Penobscot
  • Date Created: early 20th century
  • Physical Dimensions: various
  • Provenance: INTR 07190 a-j
  • Subject Keywords: Northeast, Woodlands, Abenaki, Penobscot, sewing, chatelaine, thimble, scissor case, pincushion, New Hampshire, Sipsis, Camilla Sockalexis, The Flume, White Mountains
  • Type: Basketry
  • Rights: U.S. Department of the Interior Museum
  • Medium: ash wood, fabric, metal, sweet grass, dye

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