You can find evidence of purses in Egyptian hieroglyphics, according to History of Handbags, though they do not resemble the purses of today. As long as people items they considered precious and no pockets to put them in, purses played a part in fashion as well as practicality. Purses from the 1400s survive: metal-framed purses with clasps that look similar to kiss clasps we see today. You can make your own metal frame purses with modern materials found at your local sewing supply store.
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Things you need
- "Kiss-clasp" purse frame
- 45 cm (1/2 yard) fabric
- 45 cm (1/2 yard) lining fabric
- 1/2 handle material (cord, chain, ribbon)
- Brown paper bag
- Tailor's chalk
- 45 cm (1/2 yard) interfacing
- 45 cm (1/2 yard) fusible interfacing
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine
- Butter knife
Choose a "kiss-clasp" metal frame for your purse as well as decorative fabric for the outside and lining for the inside.
Decide what kind of material you will use for the handle. If the fabric is tapestry fabric with gold threads, the gold cord or ribbon or a chain might work well.
Cut open a paper bag so that you have one large piece of paper. Lay the paper on your work table.
Lay the metal frame near the top of the paper. Trace along the top of the frame. Make sure you indicate the position of the hinges on the frame. The shape will look like the sides and top of a rectangle.
Keep the upper right corner lines up with the traced right hand corner on the paper. Push the left hand corner down so that the right hand lower leg is 6 mm (1/4 inch) from the traces shape. Be certain not to allow the right hand corner of the frame to move from its place.Make a mark where the bottom of the leg now appears. Redraw the right leg so that it is now flared to meet the new line you drew. Repeat this step for the left hand side.
Take away the metal frame. Draw the rest of your purse's shape to make the pattern. It can be a simple rectangle, flared, pear-shape, or any shape you desire. You use your own design or take inspiration from period purses. Cut out the pattern.
Fold the fabric for the outside of the purse in half, right sides together. Lay it on your work table. Fold the lining fabric in half and lay it on the work table as well.
Lay the pattern you made in Section One on top of the finished fabric and pin it in place.
Trace around the pattern with tailor's chalk, then add 12 mm (1/2 inch) for seam allowance. Cut out the fabric and set it aside. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for the lining fabric, fusible interfacing and sew-in interfacing.
Lay a piece of the decorative fabric on the work table, right side down. Lay a piece of fusible interfacing on the back of the decorative fabric. Iron the two pieces of fabric together. Repeat the process with the second piece of decorative fabric and fusible interface.
Pin the two pieces of decorative fabric together, right side to right side. Mark the position of the hinge with two pins. Sew the fabric together from that point. Make sure you do not sew beyond the points you marked (the bottom of the hinges).
Lay a piece of lining on the work table and lay a piece sew-in interfacing on top of it. Do the same with the other piece of lining.
Pin the fabric pieces together so that the interfacing is on the outside and the lining is on the inside. Make sure you mark the position of the bottom of the hinges and sew the fabric pieces together. Leave a 50 mm ( 2 inch) gap in the bottom of fabric.
Turn the decorative fabric with the fusible interfacing right side out. Tuck the bag inside the lining and pin the two bags together.
Sew the two bags -- the decorative fabric and the lining and sew-in interfacing bag--together around the top. Turn the bag right side out through the gap that you left when sewing the lining and the sew-in interfacing together. Sew the gap on the lining closed then tuck it inside the decorative fabric.
Apply glue to one side of the metal frame of the purse. Be careful not to add too much as it could get on the fabric where you don't want it.
Tuck one side of the purse's top inside the metal frame. If necessary, you can use a butter knife to work the fabric inside. Repeat step 1 and 2 for the other side of the purse. Check your work as you go to make sure the fabric looks even. Remove any excess glue. Let the fabric dry overnight before continuing to the next step.
Fasten the handle to the purse. You may be able to tie it to the loops provided on the metal frame. If not, tuck the ends inside the purse and sew them in place.
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