In 1882 Lady Wolverton asked her friends in Dorset, England to care for children orphaned by a mine disaster in Wales. Each contributor was asked to provide two identical pieces of clothing (one to wear and one to wash).
The Needlework Guild was founded to respond to various needs and disasters. Similar groups were formed in other parts of England, Bermuda, The United States and Canada.
The Toronto Branch of the Needlework Guild has operated continuously since 1892.