Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Early 20th century beaded black reticule.

Once again I find myself behind on posting. This is not good. It has occurred to me that it would be a good idea to build up a backlog of unpublished posts, that way I could avoid this sort of thing and post exactly once a week instead of approximately once a week.
Since I don't have any posts on sewing ready today, I'm sharing another pretty thing from my Old Stuff Collection. There were more than just photo albums in my Grandparent's attic. I also found some very nice old bits of costume, including this fantastic reticule.

 I'm not sure if I'm remembering this correctly, but I think my Grandfather said his aunt brought it back when she visited Europe, which was some time around 1920. I think it could easily be a few decades older than that though.

The reticule is made of fine black leather, with the rough side out. It has two pockets, one on each side.
 They both close with metal snaps.
You can see the smooth side of the leather inside the pocket flap.
 They are tacked on only at the corners.
They aren't attached very securely.
The main body of the reticule is made of four identical pieces. When it is lying flat you can see the two on the front and back, while the two on the sides are folded in between.
The one with the purple back is the outside piece, and the ones that are all black are the two side pieces that are folded in.
 There are two loops of cord that are strung through 8 grommets at the top. The cord has a synthetic feel to it and has become sort of fuzzy from wear. The ends of the cords are encased in little covers made from more of the same leather. They might have a bit of stuffing in them, as they are sort of puffy and pillow-like.
 For some reason, the smooth side of the two outside pieces is a deep purple, while the other two are completely black. The purple backed leather is also slightly thinner. Odd, isn't it? I would have put the pockets on the thicker pieces.
Here is a better shot of how it folds. One of the cords goes through one way and one goes the other way.
 While the reticule is in pretty good condition for it's age, there is a bit of damage. One of the grommets has popped out and there is a bit of tearing above one of the pockets.
The soft fuzzy side of the leather also sheds black dust, you can see the large grey smudge it left on the sheet in several of these pictures.
The tearing and the popped out grommet.
 There is also a part of the loopy beaded fringe that is seriously messed up. It appears that part of the fringe broke at some point, and somebody did a super crappy repair job.
What a mess!
 It's worse than it looks in that picture. While the two lines of fringe  on the other side are separate.....
 .......the shoddy repair has tied the other two edges together!
Who did this? What were they thinking?
 The repairs are also done in brown thread, while the rest of the thread is black. I plan on properly repairing the fringe someday, I'm not sure when that will be, but I will update this post when I do.

Here is a picture of the unaltered fringe. It's all the exact same pattern. The fringe is on the bottom edge of the bag and the bottoms of the pockets. The narrow beading is on all other edges except the two that are covered by the pocket flaps.
The beading is done with black seed beads and colourless seed beads, the fringe also has black bugle beads. The black beads are faceted, the clear ones are not. At each point where the beads attach there is a single stitch holding them on. This is the only stitching holding the edges together!

That's all for now. Hopefully I shall be back in less than a week with some actual sewing.


  1. That is an interesting piece and I' don't ever remember seeing one before. Too bad that the fringe is damaged and the grommet came loose. It's lot older than me so it not surprising that it has deteriorated a little.

    Don't worry about not blogging regularly. The fact that you blog when you have something to share is OK.
    Have a good summer.

    1. Thank you Mamoo! I know I don't have to post every week, but I like consistency and regularity, having to post something 9 days after the previous post instead of 7 irks me.

      I also have a load of half finished projects, so I should have plenty of material to write about, but I haven't been working on them as much as I should.