The nature of the 21th-century Martha Washington sewing cabinets goes from those made of strong mahogany to less expensive models made of fruitwood (apple or pear), completed to look like mahogany. The better ones in great condition sell for around $150-$165 and better models can sell for as much as $500.
|1||The History of Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet|
|2||How to Identify a Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet|
|3||How to Buy a Martha Washington’s Sewing Cabinet|
|4||How to care for a sewing cabinet|
The History of Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet
There are two different stories surrounding Martha Washington sewing cabinets, depending on whether you use the item to store or display fabric. First, according to Martha Washington: The Embodiment of Style, by Susan R. Southard and Ann Warner, the cabinet was made for Martha Washington.
Then, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History notes that the cabinet was possibly a gift to Martha Washington. Either way, the sewing cabinet was probably made in the early 1800s. But the cabinet has an interesting history because Martha Washington was not only the first First Lady to have an official sewing room at the White House, she also was an accomplished seamstress.
How to Identify a Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet
Look for an indented carved shape on the underside of the sewing cabinet. This is the seat or lip where the iron was placed. It’s particularly apparent on cherry- and cherry-hickory-bodied cabinets. A nearly flat piece of wood with the same indented shape on top of it is the top of the cabinet.
These are extremely delicate and prone to splitting, so ensure you look for one that is solid and heavy. Look for surface lacquer that has aged with the wood. If you see light grey or yellow or pink sections of lacquer, the piece has been partially repainted over the years. Pay particular attention to the stain, which should not be visible when you remove the metal lid. The stain or paint on the underside of the lid is the same color as the surface lacquer.
How to Buy a Martha Washington’s Sewing Cabinet
A good Martha Washington Sewing Cabinets will look like a well-loved, well-worn piece of furniture that has been restored, rather than having been refinished. This is great because it retains its weathered patina and in addition to being age-appropriate, it is the style preferred by the marthawaving.org team and is designed to look like it has the original finish, not a pre-paint-and-toughen finish.
Also, since mahogany is a soft, porous wood, it will oxidize over time and the paint on a newly refinished cabinet will flake off and show the grain underneath. This process creates a “vintage look” with a unique patina. The best way to tell if a cabinet is authentic is to inspect the grain of the wood.
How to care for a sewing cabinet
decorative fish scales and fabric squares, remnants of an earlier era, decorate some of the sewing cabinets. The best care of Martha Washington sewing cabinets comes from keeping them in good working order and in good storage conditions.
The darker mahogany stain on the interior will soften and come off as you clean. Scouring or degreasing with Murphy’s No. 8 pine cleaner and mild detergent, followed by several washes in cool or warm water, with a diluted washer detergent, will remove the stained or ‘rotting’ color.
If a more vibrant stain is more your style,
repainting the cabinets with a rust-resistant color such as blue or green is also a possibility.
Sewing cabinets are known to be nearly indestructible, and no matter how gently you handle them, they should last for decades or even a century.
That said, there are a few things to consider. First, and most obviously, you want them to last you that long. Secondly, make sure you don’t burn yourself as you restore them. they’re well-maintained and in excellent condition.
a little (but not too much) patina is likely to come out during the
restoration process and you’ll have a perfectly preserved cabinet.
Reproduction Quilted Cloth Janes and Sleeves Many of the articles for this article I came across were 20-30 years old. While most of them are still good, there are several (such as those related to bobbin lace) that are either from the 70s or 90s.
Rare like most American furniture. American Martha Washington sewing cabinets are usually made only in the 18th or 19th century.
His craftsmanship was so extraordinary that Louis XV or George III the Queen or
the President would have appointed him to his house.
Today, you can find some from the 1850s but in general, 1700 and
later cabinets are rare and their demand is more than reasonable.
Martha Washington sewing cabinets are most liked.