Making a silk purse from a sow’s ear

Photo of the silk purse

A while back I attended a class (at a traveling sewing show) on making a silk purse.  The class wasn’t really what I had hoped it would be, but it was still interesting all the same.
We started with a piece of hand-dyed silk velvet.  I choose one in shades of blue and grey (gorgeous!) and a coordinating piece of silver silk dupioni for the lining.  The strap would be made of silk cord (or rather, a silk strap filled with cotton cording), and the purse would be embellished with beads, ribbons, yarns, and then when I got home, hot-fix crystals.

To start off, we had a piece of fusible interfacing, and ruched up the silk velvet, and pressed it to the interfacing to bond the two together. Normally I wouldn’t use an iron on velvet, but this is how we got the rumpled and manipulated effect, without laborious hand-sewing.  Since the velvet was just the basis for the rest of the embellishment, a few areas of flattened velvet pile wasn’t such a big deal.

Close up of the beaded corner

Then we determined the pocket of the bag and the flap, and started sewing on gorgeous yarns, beads, and ribbons to embellish the purse in a random, almost chaotic fashion. Then once home, we sewed the lining to the purse fabric right sides together (leaving an area to turn) sewed up the sides (and embellished them to cover the stitching) and added the strap.

I added the hot-fix crystals as well, but haven’t added a closure yet – the weight of the beads on the flap do a fine job of keeping the purse closed.

Photo of the whole purse

The final result is pretty cool, though if I were to make something similar again, I’d make just a little bit larger, and spend more time on adding pockets with zippers into the lining for security.  I don’t like ‘open’ purses generally, and some way of closing them is pretty important to me.  Still, as a quick class, it was great fodder for letting myself go embellishment-wild!


Do you think the finished product is too busy, or could you see yourself using something this embellished?  Let me know in the comments below!

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