Wednesday, March 9, 2011


One of the easiest to make and well documented bits of gear for the DIY/Low budget Virginia back country kit is the wallet, sometimes called a "market wallet". Basically a rectangular linen bag with a slit in the middle, wallets were used for carrying a multitude of things in the period and were usually made of stout, coarse linen.

Quite a few references can be found in the Virginia Gazette:

William Byrd (1674-1744)
Containing the History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina;
A Journey to the Land of Eden, A. D. 1733
; and A Progress to the Mines.
Written from 1728 to 1736, and Now First Published:


12th. Before we marched this morning, every man took care to pack up some buffalo steaks in his wallet, besides what he crammed into his belly.

Executive journals of the Council of colonial Virginia 1757

"...every man should have a wallet of Oznabrigs to carry his provisions in when the leave their horses at the passes of the mountains, and two pair of mockasheens, that blankets would be wanted and clasp knives, thread for the linen and woolen bags for transporting the powder when taken from the waggons..."

NC Gazette via Va Gazette Newburn, May 24, 1771

Carolina "Regulator" baggage: "consisting of hunting shirts, wallets of dumplings, jackets, breeches, powder-horns, shot-bags, & c. were taken with a number of horses..."

The Journal of William Calk, Kentucky Pioneer
Lewis H. Kilpatrick
The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 7, No. 4. (Mar., 1921), pp. 363-377.

thursd 30 we Set out again & went down to Elk gardin and there Suplid our Selves With Seed Corn & irish tators then we went on alittle way I turnd my hors to drive afore me & he got Scard Ran away threw Down the Saddel Bags & Broke three of our powder goards & ABrams flask Burst open a walet of corn...

A good intro and pattern info can be found here:

Another similar wallet in the Cumberland County (PA) Historical Society collection is described by Tandy & Charles Hersch in Cloth & Costume as of bleached linen, plain woven 34 warp 32 weft 15.5 x39 inches with a 16.5 inch opening and flat felled seams. From written descriptions it seems that sizes varied greatly in the period. For this repro, I picked up some off white plain woven stout linen from Burnley and Trowbridge a while back.


After washing, the linen was cut to size, and I pinned down the long seam (remember to leave the opening open!).


Sew that together with a running or back stitch, fold over the edges and flat fell. I suggest a rolling hem or flat felling the opening slit.


Then the ends are pinned together (remember the slit/seam goes in the middle of the rectangle, which for me was somewhat counter intuitive.


Sew them together, then fell the seam as before, repeat on the other end.


Once there, the wallet is finished!