Elegant Steampunk – Victorian purse

While at a sewing trade show a few years ago, there was a vendor who specialized in Victorian arts & crafts. I’ve seen the same vendor there a few times now, though they weren’t at the last show I attended.  😦  Looking online, I can’t find their website either. 😦

Regardless, I thought I’d share with you one of the projects I did from a kit I purchased from them.

The finished purse

The kit starts off with a pattern that is vaguely teardrop shaped, though you could use any shape you wanted.  The most important thing about it is to measure the inside of the purse frame and mimic it’s shape for the top of the purse. The body of the purse also needs to be large enough for the scale of the embellishment.

Then cut out two fashion fabric pieces, and matching two lining fabric.  In the kit there was this lovely ivory-on-ivory floral brocade, with a plain white cotton lining.  The “front” of the fashion fabric purse piece gets embellished – first by stitching down a printed ‘portrait’, and then by adding in  hand-dyed rayon lace in lots of pastel colours.  Put the ‘fringe’ lace down first, and then add the floral appliques on top.  Due to the scale, you don’t need actual appliques, just cut them out of lace trim by the meter.  From there I added in some crystal beads as well, and a butterfly pendant from a vintage necklace I no longer wore.

Then carefully sew the fashion fabrics right sides together (being careful not to catch any of the trim in the seams) and sew the lining fabrics right sides together.  You can leave the top open for turning, that will be handled later anyways.  Turn and press the seams of the fashion fabric, and just press the lining.  Then tuck the lining into the purse (wrong sides together) and line everything up. I ran a running stitch to keep the edges together.

From here it depends if you have a sew-on, or a glue-in purse frame.  This one was a glue-in, though a subsequent one I used was a sew-on. Use glue that is suitable to attach metal to fabric (fabric won’t be the problem here, since it’s porous, but the metal might be) and VERY carefully (working a little bit at a time) glue the top edge of the purse into the frame.  Once the glue is dry, the kit included a small length of ivory mini gimp braid to trim the inside edge and hide the raw edges.  This is also glued on over top of the fabric, inside the purse.

Next, the strap – on this one I used a length of chain doubled (since the chain was a bit finer than normal purse chain) and attached it to the purse frame.


My only complaint about this purse is that it’s VERY, very small.  It will hold my cell phone, but not my iPod Touch, a credit card, ID, and a lipgloss, and that’s about it.  I ended up making a slightly larger one, which I’ll post soon!

What do you think?  I’ve made one other – what do you think you would do differently?  Let me know in the comments below!

Close up of the purse frame


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