Sunday, March 24, 2019

One Afternoon Tutorials--All the Bags

Today's collection of one afternoon tutorials has a built-in theme.  All of these tutorials are instructions for how to make various kinds of bags to carry things in.  Some of these can be very ornamental, while others are plaintly utilitarian.  I suspect that many of us would greatly value the opportunity to have a period-appropriate bag to wear and use with historical costume.

Some of these patterns, obviously, are simpler than others, and a few require special skills (such as knitting or crochet, and the ability to interpret knitting or crochet pattern notation), but most of them are simple enough to finish in a single long afternoon.

I've already provided a link to a good tutorial for the Viking age wood-framed bag elsewhere, but I'm going to list it again in this post along with all the other bag tutorials to make it easier for people to find it through my blog.  Although this list does not, and cannot, include tutorials for every type of bag ever made, it includes a significant cross-section of items that are not commonly written about or made by costumers or reenactors.  I have listed the tutorial for each type of bag in rough chronological order of when the original bags were made and used.  
  • Anglo-Saxon Ring Bag.  Another interesting bag type shows up in early Anglo-Saxon finds.  It's a cloth bag with a ring, big enough to admit a hand but smaller in diameter than the rest of the bag.  Such bags don't truly have a closure; the contents stay put because the bag is hung from a belt so it stays more or less upright in position, and because the ring is sized as small as possible to allow a hand, and the contents, to be inserted.  It has been theorized that they were used by well-to-do women to keep small sewing projects close at hand.  A similar design turns up in the late Middle Ages,* apparently to hold small game collected during a hunt.  This one comes from Brígiða Vadesbana's eponymous blog.  The tutorial may be found here.
  • Viking Wood-Framed Bag.  I've already tried out Kristine Risberg's tutorial for a wood framed bag; it works very well.  Wood frames have been found at several Viking sites, and reasonable reproductions can be found on Etsy and other places if you are not brave enough to make your own frames based upon photographs of original finds.  The bag I made using Kristine's tutorial may be seen here, and the tutorial itself is here.  
  • Medieval Trapezoidal Shoulder Bag.  Next come tutorials for a medieval bag with a trapezoidal shape and a shoulder strap.  These could be made as large as a modern messenger bag, but the period art shows them to be quite small, more the size of a small modern handbag.  Here are two different tutorials:  one by Coblaith, and one by Sabine Scholl.
  • Medieval Carry Sack.  Here is a tutorial for a medieval "carry sack" that looks like one of the "miser bags" from the Victorian era (see below) enlarged to military duffel bag size.  This tutorial was written by Peter on the blog of the reenactment group Albrechts Bössor; it may be found here.
  • Late Medieval Coin Pouch.   Cathrin of Katafalk shows how to make a no-sew leather coin pouch here.  The original purse was found by archaeologists in Bergen, Norway and dates to the late 13th-early 14th century CE.  (This tutorial inspired me to write today's all-bags post.)
  • Medieval Drawstring Purse, with Tassels.  This tutorial on how to make a type of textile drawstring bag commonly seen in artifacts and art in the late Middle Ages, may be found on Cathrin's Flickr, here.   
  • 18th C. "Ditty" Bag.  Here's a design sketch and instructions for an 18th century sailor's "ditty bag", the period term for a sailor's bag for carrying useful small items.  Tim Abbott provides these resources on his blog, "'Another Pair Not Fellows'; Adventures in Research and Reinterpreting the American Revolution".
  • Regency Reticule.  Drawstring purses were also fashionable during the Regency period (1800-1820s), when they were called reticules.  Here's a pattern for a cut-and-sewn reticule from DawnLuck's Photobucket account. For further guidance in reticule-making, here's an interesting article with useful, general advice on making cut-and-sewn reticules by Kelly at Tea in a Tea Cup.  Some reticules were crocheted, and AllaboutAmi has a pattern for a crocheted reticule
  • Metal-Framed Coin Purse.  Most people have seen, and many own, small purses with a metal frame at the top, and a kind of snapping clasp at the center.   Depending upon selection of frame and materials, this type of purse can be period for nearly any time from approximately the 18th century onward.  Such frames can be bought on line or in sewing and craft stores.  A tutorial for supplying the rest of the purse and uniting it with the frame may be found here.  
  • Miser Purse.  This is shaped like the Medieval carry sack mentioned above.  Like that bag, it has a relatively slender center containing the entry slit.  The contents are meant to be stored in both ends, and can be kept from falling out by pushing rings toward the contents.  They were commonly used as coin purses during the 1800s.  They were usually crocheted; it was unclear whether any were knitted.  Here's one tutorial for a crocheted purse, as well as a second one that is knitted, courtesy of Severina and Koshka the Cat, respectively.
  • 1940s Purse.  For those with more modern interests, here's a free pattern for a 1940s crocheted purse shaped like a conventional handbag, not like a miser's purse.  
Finally, the simplest kind of bag requires no sewing at all; it consists of a circle of leather, with holes evenly made about 1/4-1/2 inches from the edge, and a string or thong drawn through the holes to close it.  In case a tutorial for such an item is required, Martha Stewart has provided one here.  This idea is simple enough, both in design and construction, that such bags could well have been made as early as the Stone Age, and Martha's blog post shows that they are still being made for use today.

* From Les livres du roi Modus et de la reine Ratio, from late 14th century. This particular image was found on Exploring the Medieval Hunt.

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