Once I had my clothes set for the Regency event, I wanted a reticule (small purse) to carry things in, so as not to spoil the effect with a modern bag. I decided to make mine out of an ivory velveteen remnant from my Velvet Pumpkin project, and lined it with a scrap of sage green faux dupioni I picked up for a dollar at the fabric store. I figured that the ivory-and-sage color combination was sufficiently neutral that it would work with either one of my outfits without being too matchy-matchy.
After some internet browsing, which indicated that many reticules were covered in elaborate floral embroidery, I decided to decorate it with the ribbon flowers left over from my daughter’s flower-embellished holiday dress— they looked vaguely period and it was a good excuse to use them up. I placed them on the fabric, but they looked kind of bare.
I needed some form of leaf or vine to connect them, so I decided to use some sheer sage-green ribbon (purchased as an option for the Birthday Princess Dress but never used), which I sewed on using a couching technique.
What is couching? It’s where you take a cord or other trim, and rather than sew it in and out of the fabric (like embroidery thread) you lay it on top of the fabric and use a smaller thread to go over it, holding it in place. I used gold thread to make it more decorative, and made vines and leaves to connect the ribbon flowers (I did the vines first, then sewed the flowers on top). Overall the final effect is really nice!
I was originally going to make a tassel for the bottom of the bag using embroidery floss, but when I was picking out the floss at the store I happened to glance over and see one last pink ready-made tassel just hanging there (priced at less than the floss would’ve cost), and it seemed so much like fate that I just bought it instead. I pinned the tassel to the seam allowance of the velvet layer, then stitched the bag together leaving the top 2″ of each side unattached (you’ll see why later). I clipped the curves and turned it right-side out, and did the same for the lining pieces.
To attach the lining to the velvet, I put the right-side-out lining bag into the wrong-side-out velvet bag, and stitched the top edges together in two separate seams– one for the front and one for the back, leaving the sides unattached. Then I turned the whole thing inside-out through one of the side openings (the bulky ribbon roses meant I needed a decently-sized opening– hence the 2″ gaps), and then simply pushed the lining into the outer bag.
I’d intentionally cut the lining piece 1/2″ longer than the outer piece– this meant that the lining fabric folded over the top of the outer fabric to make a fake bound edge in the contrasting color.
Finally, I stitched a 1/2″ drawstring channel through both layers near the top of the bag, leaving a 1″ ruffle at the very top, and hand-stitched the leftover raw edges. I ran ivory ribbon through the channel and had a finished reticule!
- Honestly, ribbon isn’t the best thing to use as a drawstring– it doesn’t pull easily, so you have to really work to get the bag open and closed. It still looks fine, but I may replace it with a smoother cord at some point.
- If you’re not into embroidery or much sewing, you can easily use hot-glue to attach ribbon flowers, or just paint on a design. Hot glue may not be period-correct, but painted reticules certainly are!