Housewife is an English (UK) term to describe a pocket-size sewing kit containing buttons, needles, pins, scissors, threads and other sewing accessories. The term is often (but not exclusively) associated with sewing kits issued to the British military. In the mid-eighteenth century, it was written huswife or hussive and these forms can still be found at the end of the twentieth century (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary).
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a late nineteenth or early twentieth century paper and wood sewing box. Such paper boxes were brightly coloured and decorated with butterflies, bats and/or the t'aeguk mark (the two circled commas that denote the harmony of the universe). These boxes were used to keep needlework tools.