A new purse

I’m trying to get into the habit of making  a blog post each time I make something new, to gather the sources I’ve used for future references and share my thinking.

Something I’ve honestly needed for a long time now is a new purse. I made one back in 2009, but wear and tear over almost a decade of use has left it pretty shabby, and now lacking all three tassels.

My main inspiration for the purse shape, edging and the use of a separate loop to fasten to the belt was based on a 14th century German purse in the collections at Victoria and Albert Museum. A pattern with a lot of very useful details is made available by Timothy Mitchell at:

Late 14th century purse, Victoria and Albert Museum http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O115592/bag-unknown/

It’s pretty hard to tell fingerloop braids from tubular tablet weaving, at least for me, so I went with fingerloop braiding when making drawstrings even though the pattern said tubular tablet weaving. Like in the German purse I used two colors and with three strands of one color and two of the other, and I think it turned out similar enough, ish. Using wool is one thing, but in hindsight I might have both made the purse too big, and also used yarn that was too thick in all the details.

Looking only at medieval illustrations, judging the size of purses is a challenge. Many embroidered silk purses have survived, but they often seem to be reliquary purses and a lot smaller than a some illustrations and sculptures indicate. A 10 x 9 sized purse was obviously designed long before mobile phones! I’m not going to go very deep into the sizing  debate on purses, but I’ll add this interesting illustration, where you see -perhaps, a small reliquary purse and a larger purse worn together.

1332-1350, the Grandes Chroniques de France, The British Library http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=royal_ms_16_g_vi_f014r

As always fantastic reenactors and craftspeople of the internet had a huge helping hand to lend me in learning the techniques for this project.

The seam finishing I learned from this wonderful tutorial:

Equally wonderful and helpful was this tassel -tutorial:

For learning a bit more about medieval fingerloop braiding see the great “Book of Secrets – 15th Century Fingerloop Braiding” by Beatrix Nutz

This is a very beautiful reconstruction of the German purse, really making me wish I could embroider!

Another lovely reconstruction inspired me a lot: