Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Make a Victorian Purse

This article was found on the Victorianna Online magazine.  This would be a simple craft for teens at an event. 
An 1833 dress is accessorized with a simple reticule of figured silk bordered in Valenciennes lace and attached to a belt of rose-colored taffeta ribbon. During the early 1800s, women carried small bags or purses such as this, called reticules, to hold money and small personal items. Introduced in the late 18th century as a replacement for the pocket, reticules were customarily in the form of a pouch with a drawstring. These round, hexagonal or lozenge shaped purses became a canvas to highlight a lady’s needlework proficiencies — from a novice’s modest stitches to the elaborate embroidered, beaded, and painted embellishments of the skilled needleworker. This simple pouch-shaped purse was easily crafted; instructions for two similar reticules were provided in an early nineteenth century book and are highlighted below. Add your own trimmings or embroidery to make your own period accessory.

Take a quarter of a yard of fine cambric-dimity (or any lightweight cotton, muslin or small-figured gingham) and split it in two. Cut the shape of a small rounded scallop or a point out of cardboard or thick paper. Laying this on the fabric, draw a row of points or scallops all round, taking care not to go too near the edge, and turning the corners handsomely. The drawing may be done with a lead pencil. Baste or tack the two sides of the bag together, and following the outline of the scallops, run them along with very neat short stitches; taking care always to stick the needle through both sides, as it is that which holds the purse together.

Read the rest of the article and see embroidery and braiding patterns at

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