Red purse shaped like a lute

Complete red velvet lute-shaped purse (front)

Complete red velvet lute-shaped purse (front)

After making two new purple velvet “lute” shaped purses, I decided to make one with a slightly different shape, and this time in red and gold.


Three different purses, the two phallic-shaped ones, and the red lute-shaped purse

You might remember that my other “lute” shaped purses are very phallic. This is actually a documentable style, as per my previous research post.  However, there is also a similar purse that is much more “lute” shaped, and a lot less phallic shaped, so I opted to try that design as well.

Direct link from the British Museum

Direct link from the British Museum

This more lute-shaped purse is in the collection of the British Museum, but is not currently on display according to their website. They note that the purse is from the 16th century, though was acquired into their collection in the late 1800s. They describe the original purse as  “crimson velvet, in the shape of a powder flask”. They note that the purse has a “stiffened centre padded with horsehair” and a drawstring pouch on either side, with the edges bound with ‘silver braid’. The only dimension they give for the purse is 4.75 inches – the length. (12 cm)

After making the very small purple phallic-shaped “purse shaped like a lute”, I decided it was too small, so opted to make this red purse a little larger – though still not as large as the large purple phallic purse. The finished red purse is approximately 20 cm tall and 15 cm wide at the base.

Hand-sewn eyelets in red velvet lute-shaped purse

Hand-sewn eyelets in red velvet lute-shaped purse

I made the red purse similar to the purple purses; first making a base of cardboard, then covering the cardboard with velvet, then sewing the pouch on, and binding the sides.

However, since this purse has a pouch on both sides, I decided not to hollow out a cavity at the base. On the purple purses this gives a little more room for things inside the purse, but this isn’t necessary in the red purse, since it already has more “holding room”.

In this case I also opted to hand-sew the eyelets using matching dark-red pearl cotton thread. This is because this one is a little more special….

Like the purple purses, I used scraps of black dupioni silk to like the pouches.

Sewing the side trim to the red lute-shaped velvet purse.

Sewing the side trim to the red lute-shaped velvet purse.

Another change from the purple purses is the sides of this purse…

On the purple ones I used self-fabric to finish the sides. The original red purse from the British Museum though appears to have the silver braid over the sides completely, (though much of it has worn away, exposing the fabric underneath) so I decided to do the same with my red purse. I used a golden braid to completely cover the sides – I was so happy that this worked out to be exactly the right size!

I actually ran a thin line of glue down first to adhere the braid smoothly – since getting the right length was important, and this braid ravelled very easily. From there I hand-stitched it down to the sides of the purse.

For the strap, I took a thin cord, and used my drop spindle to spin it, and double it back on itself to make a cord. This I threaded through the braid at the top, and hand-stitched it down in place. The original seems to have the strap wrapped around the top of the purse, which I don’t think is the original method- I think something broke and the last user made this adjustment.

Side of the complete red velvet lute-shaped purse.

Side of the complete red velvet lute-shaped purse.

I used the same cord for the drawstring of the pouch. The original purse seems to suggest that the drawstring went through one side of the purse’s pouch, around the sides, through the other side’s pouch, and back to the first side again. I am not sure of this, and could be wrong, but it’s functional. Like the purple pouch, I finished the ends of the cord with small metal beads.

Back of the complete red velvet lute-shaped purse.

Back of the complete red velvet lute-shaped purse.


So… if I were to make this again, I’d increase the width of the fabric at the bottom where it attaches to the covered form. There is a fair amount of room in the purse for stuff… but the pouches don’t expand as much as I’d like to really make the purse practical for events. I think this could be done by keeping the top about the same shape, and gathering the bottom more to allow more fabric at the bottom. I might also change the shape of the pouch – the circular pouch for the phallic-shaped purse seems to give a lot of room, and this might be a better shape for this purse too.

… Something special?

I’ve put this pouch up for the Avacal Online Auction… which closes on October 12th. Hopefully it will get a few good bids to raise money for the SCA kingdom general fund!

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