Celebration – lute-shaped purses

Large and small "Lute" shaped purple velvet purses (front)

Large and small “Lute” shaped purple velvet purses (front)

About a year and a half ago I made a purse shaped like a “lute” for an A&S competition. When we were trying to think of what kind of largess to make to celebrate Caterina’s elevation to the Order of the Laurel, I offered to make a purse shaped like a lute similar to the one I’d already made. The purse is late period, from a variety of sources in Europe (England, the Netherlands, Italy, and more) so is mostly suitable for her late-period Italian persona.

My original project can be found here.

While my documentation with extant examples can be found here.

Since I’ve already gone over the making-of this purse, I won’t spend too much writing about these ones… apart from talking about what I’ve done differently this time.

Two purses

One of the original purses mentioned a fairly small dimensions. For my original purse I made it quite a bit larger (to hold my phone etc) but this time I decided to make one large, one small.

The top photo in the collage above, I’ve cut out the shapes in corrugated cardboard. I didn’t have large enough cardboard for the full shapes, so also cut a top and bottom in cardstock which would be smoother. This photo shows the smaller of the two purses.

In the left photo, I’ve glued together the layers of cardboard and card stock with white glue. In the background is the larger purse.

In the right photo, I’ve taped the larger purse with masking tape. This smoothes the layers, and the tape is able to be glued.

The next three stages illustrated above include:

  • Top – Glueing the back fabric to the larger purse, using weight while it dried
  • Left – Clipping the curves of the larger purse back before folding the sides and glueing them down
  • Right – Glueing in the cavity on the bottom front of the larger purse.
Glueing in the cavity of the lute-shaped purse

Glueing in the cavity of the lute-shaped purse

With both the front and back fabric glued down, I also glued down the tabs on the sides.

Stages of glueing for the lute-shaped purses

Stages of glueing for the lute-shaped purses

I also used an awl to poke holes for the lacing. This went through the cardboard, and also both layers of velveteen.

These I filled with brass eyelets. On my original purse I hand-sewed the eyelets, but I really dislike sewing eyelets, and was working on too much of a deadline to spend the extra hours on this project.  It would be not just the four eyelets for the base of the purse, but also each of the lacing holes for the pouch itself.

Because the edges of the eyelets could possibly catch on the cord, I filled the holes with white glue as well, and then smoothed the inside. This should provide a bit of a smooth, protected finish inside the holes.

Large and small lute-shaped purse pouches

Large and small lute-shaped purse pouches

From there I sewed up the pouches, using more purple velveteen for the outside, and black silk dupioni (scraps leftover from another project) for the lining. The one period example that notes fabric, says that the pouch was lined in leather, while another has it’s lining listed as ‘taffeta’ – presumably silk.

I used the same brass eyelets to make the lacing holes at the top of the pouch on each of the pouches.

The next steps include sewing the pouch to the purse, creating ‘trim’ for the sides and hand-sewing it on to the sides of the purse, making trim from embroidery floss using my drop spindle, and then sewing the trim to the edges of the purse by hand.

I opted to leave a small opening at the top of the pouch for the large purse like I did on my first purse, but opted to sew the pouch for the smaller purse all the way up. I did this because the smaller pouch is VERY small, and I thought this would give more room – but also because I wanted to see how the difference works for any future pouches. I think I like sewing it all the way up to the top well.

From there I used brass wire to make the hanging loops, and using the cord to make a hanging cord for the purse itself. The same cord was also used as a drawstring for the pouch, trimmed with small metal beads.

For the smaller purse I fed the cord through so the ties would fasten at the front, while on the larger one I opted to feed it through so it would tie at the back. I did this mostly out of experimentation than anything else.  I think I like the front-fastening option better.

Large and small "Lute" shaped purple velvet purses (back)

Large and small “Lute” shaped purple velvet purses (back)

The size difference is pretty considerable – the smaller one is just barely large enough for a hotel key, a lip balm, and some pocket change… too small for what I’d need to carry around at most events. The larger one is PLENTY big enough for all of that plus my phone… though the little one is CUTE hanging off my hip….

  • The larger purse is approximately 28 cm tall by 17 cm wide at the base.
  • The smaller purse is approximately 16 cm tall by 11.5 cm wide at the base.

… I might just try a third size somewhere in the middle….
(because a woman can’t have too many “lute” shaped purses, right?)

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 (Though… I’ll likely only be keeping the small purse, and giving the larger one away as Largess in celebration of Caterina’s elevation. UNLESS I am able to find the time to make another purse which coordinates more with my 16th century costumes…)

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