Medieval textile belt purse

This type of textile bag with tassels can be found in manuscripts and pictures from the middle of the 13th century to the middle of the 16th century. This is the type of bag that women wore hanging from their belts in long ribbons and it was very often hidden by the over dress.

The look of the bag varies greatly, different kind and amount of tassels, colours and fabrics. The material of the edging and the materials in edging and tassels.

This bag I will show you is based on the simple three stranded flat braid. The look is very similar to the tablet woven edge but much simpler as you do not have to know card weaving to do it. Here is a extant bag with a similar braided edge.

The material of your bag decides how “fine” your bag is and it is possible to make the same kind of bag in silk and in wool, also embroidered bags can be found in the extant findings.

Start by cutting your fabric, I use a wool fabric for the outside that is 19,5*35,5 cm (7,7 * 14 inches) and the lining is a thin linen fabric that is 19,5 * 34,5 cm (7,7 * 13,6) note that the lining is shorter then the outside fabric, it should be so that the lining does not peak out at the top when finished. Seam allowances are included.

Medieval textile purse - 1
Pin both the short sides, with the outside fabric and lining right sides together and sew them with a small running stitch with 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

Medieval textile purse - 2
Press both seams open like this, you now have a tube of fabric. As you can see I have marked on both sides around the tube, 2cm (0,8 inch) from the edge.

Medieval textile purse - 3
Now you want to press in the 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance on both sides around the tube. This is very easily done as you can simply fold the edge until the raw edge meets the 2cm (0,8 inch) markings, what you now have folded in and pressed is your 1cm (0,4 inch) seam allowance.

Medieval textile purse - 4
Turn your fabric tube inside-out and put the wrong sides together, pressing the short sides flat and nice.

Medieval textile purse - 5
Now it is time for the braiding. First you need to cut all the yarn you need, how much depend on the thickness of yam you are using. I use a medium/thin wool yarn. You will do two braids, one longer and one shorter. For my long I have 18 threads that are 2m (2.2yd) long. To my short braid I use 9 threads that are 1,5m (1,6yd) long.

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On one end, make a knot so that you have loops in the end.

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Cut the other side open.

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I use a door handle like this when I braid, to have something to braid against.

Medieval textile purse - 9
You are going to make a simple three strand braid so part your yarn into three equal strands. As you can see you always strive to put the outer threads in the middle. And as you move the outer threads to the inside the threads that where on the inside ends up on the outside. Like this a braid is formed, yes trying to use words to describe braiding is really hard, that is why I made this neat illustration of how you do it!

Medieval textile purse - 10
Start with the long 2m (2,2yd) threads and keep on braiding, as you braid the bottom will become tangled. So now and then make sure that the bottom is untangled, or you are going to have a mess of yarn in the end and a short short braid.

Medieval textile purse - 11
Braid the 2m (2,2yd) long threads until your braid measures 1,2m (1,3 yd)(measure when relaxed) and make a knot.

Medieval textile purse - 12
Trim the end roughly, the rest of the threads will be used for the tassels so save them.

Medieval textile purse - 13
Now take the shorter treads and do the same thing, knot in the end, cut the other side open, divide in three and braid. But this time you braid the full length of the threads.

Medieval textile purse - 14
Then cut the braid in half, unravel the ends a bit for tassels and make knots. there you have the two drawstrings for your purse.

Medieval textile purse - 15
Now we make the tassels, cut a piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of one of the leftover ends from the long braid folded in half.

Medieval textile purse - 16
Make a knot and pull the knot to the top of the tassel, so that you get this look.

Medieval textile purse - 17
Make all three tassels, don’t trim the ends yet.

Medieval textile purse - 18
Now we are back at the sewing, mark two lines at both the short edges, one that is 1 cm (0,4 inch) from the edge and then one that is 1,5cm (0,6 inch) from the first line.

NOTE

I got a question on what I was basing this type of drawstring on, an the simple and honest answer is that I did not look at the extant purses. I simply looked at manuscript pictures and did what felt right and what worked.
What I have found is two bags with the same type of drawstring, but the first a 10th century German relic bag is way out of my time span and the second one is also a German bag but from 1540 so it is a bit on he late side.
This was a stupid thing of me to do, because when I looked and asked around all the extant purses have simply the drawstring pulled trough the outer fabric and lining, no holes made and no eyelets sewn.

Like these extant purses show you.
14th century Sion
Mid 14th century France
1301-1400 Europe Here you can also see what looks like a linen lining.

But one should note that the extant purses have silk cords, and the shell fabric is almost always silk embroidered linen. For a purse like mine with wool strings and wool outer fabric I would suggest that one did sewn eyelets either with linen or silk thread to prolong the life of the drawstring and bag itself.

If you wish to do eyelets instead I would suggest to to them in two levels as this picture shows, as the braided wool cords are a bit on the thick side, or to do your braids a bit thinner. If you do eyelets you can also skip the part about skipping over the tunnel for the drawstring that will come further down, just sew the braid to the bag all the way to the top in stead.

END OF NOTE

Medieval textile purse - 19
Stitch along the lines with small running stitches.

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Like this, on both short sides.

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Fold the bag in half, lining against lining. Short sides against short sides and pin along the edges.

Medieval textile purse - 22
Take a longer piece of yarn and thread it on a needle. Knot the end of the yarn and starting from the inside of the bag, between the lining and outer fabric, pull the tread trough.

Medieval textile purse - 23
We are now going to attach the long braid, that also is your carrying strap at the same time as we sew together the lining and outside fabric. Pull the needle right trough your braid like this.

Medieval textile purse - 24
Make sure to catch both the lining and outer layers. Go straight trough the braid, and take a stitch right trough the bag, angle it slightly upward to the other side and pull the tread trough as far away from the first stitch as you choose.

Medieval textile purse - 25
Sew like this along the length of the bag, stopping only at the channel for the drawstring that you stitched before, there go trough the layers. Then when you have passed the channel continue your sewing until you reach the top edge, there fasten the treads.
Do the exact same thing on the other side of the bag, before sewing the braid make sure that it is not twisted.

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Divide the bottom part of the bag in three and attach the tassels.

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Take one of your short braids and tread it trough one side of the channel with the help of a safety pin, go under the big braid and thread the braid trough the other channel as well.

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Like this!

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To the same thing with the other braid as well. Now you have a functional drawstring!

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Pull the bag shut and then trim the tassels all around. I like it when my tassels are bigger in the middle and gradually gets shorter to the sides, but that is just personal preference.

Medieval textile purse - 31
Now it is done! Put it on your belt and feel happy! I have mine hanging from a purse hanger that I got at Historiska Fynd.

a whole bunch of dresses, and some more

I am really LOUSY at keeping this blog updated, sorry as usual, but at least I KNOW I’m lousy at it.  ;)
But I bring lots of new photos now, because it is not like I haven’t done anything during my blog silence.

striped dress
So I begin with the striped dress.

striped dress - sewing
This dress is made out of striped stretch tulle, really nice and heavy thing, not all that stiff as tulle use to be. And there were a LOT of ruffling involved in this dress and a lot of fabric, about 10 meters of fabric, that is about 10,9 yards

striped dress - spread out
The hem of the dress is about 22 meters (about 24 yards) totally crazy!

striped dress - ruffle
striped dress - detail
The good thing about the tulle is that you don’t have to hem it at all, the edges stay clan and crisp anyway.

striped dress - on
Another good thing about the dress is that since it is only made out of tulle, one can have it all year round.  It is cool in the summer with just a under dress or as this, with a polo and wool tights in the winter.

long empire waist dress
On to my favourite dress at the moment, a long maxi dress with empire waist.

long empire waist dress - detail
The top of the dress is made out a tin wool fabric, I just love this fabric it is so thin that you can wear it in the summer and since it is wool you do not have to wash it at all, one just needs to hang it out to air and it becomes all fresh again. Wool is really a fabulous material.

long empire waist dress - on
The bottom is a thin cotton fabric.

long empire waist dress - fabric
I got this fabric from a old lady who had bought it in when she was young, I just love it.

long empire waist dress - back
The buttons in the back is covered in the same fabric as in the skirt.

short empire waist dress
As I liked the long dress so much I decided to make a short version of it to.

short empire waist dress - on
short empire waist dress - side
short empire waist dress - back
short empire waist dress - fabric
The skirt fabric is an old curtain.

short empire waist dress - skirt
I miscalculated the skirt part so it ended up to tight, so I solved the problem by putting in a half circle in the back, made out of the same fabric as the top.

casual dress
I need more casual dresses so I made this one.
It is made out of jersey fabric for the top and the bottom is actually a skirt I have had in my wardrobe for ages but never use.

Jumpsuit - long
The jumpsuit is something I wanted to to last summer, but never got around to it. It is made in a wool fabric, but a thicker one so it is a bit to warm for summer, but good for rainy summer days, or autumn, this will be GREAT this autumn.

Jumpsuit - short
One can pull it up to, then it looks just like a dress.

jumpsuit - inside
As I don’t have a serger at the moment I’m encasing all my seam allowances in bias tape, I love how clean it gets

summer dress - front
The last dress was something I made for myself but that I miscalculated so gravely that it ended up being something like three sizes to small, it just sat really funny on my body.

summer dress - jump
My dear little sister was nice and helped me get some nice photos of it.

summer dress - sleeve
summer dress - skirt detail
It is made out of a thin viscose fabric and a lot of satin bias tape.

summer dress - front detail
The inspiration to it comes from the 18th century “chemise a la reine” and one can choose where to tie the removable band, in the waist or under the bust; wherever you feel like.

summer dress - back
summer dress - back detail
summer dress - key
The chain in the back prevents the dress from falling of the shoulders due to the low back and the full sleeves, it is totally removable to make washing easy.

summer dress - note
Late nights when I try to sleep but can not, I sometimes make these small notes on sewing for myself to remember good ideas that would disappear after a good nights sleep. This note is about how to sew the ruffles onto the dress so that the raw edges gets encased at the same time.

smocked leather belt on body
And at last, I remembered that I had not yet showed the smocked leather belt on a real person yet, so here you have it on a body!

smocking leather

smocking leather - in progress on doll
After the week with the guest teacher we were supposed to translate the techniques we learned into our own materials, leather.
I chose to work with a nappa leather, the colour is called “petrol” and was quite hard to catch on photo.

smocking leather - sketch
As the smocking was my favourite technique I decided to work with that, I worked with 2*2 cm (0,8*0,8 inches) squares.
I wanted to make a product in stead of just a test square so I decided to make a belt thing.

smocking leather - in progress
In progress

smocking leather - inside
I have a waistband in it so that you can wear it without it dropping down due to the stretch of the smocking.

smocking leather - detail
Close up

smocking leather - overview
I really like how it turned out.