Sunday, 27 December 2015

Re-Do / Brown

The last remaining Historical Sew Monthly challenge for me to complete was September’s; Brown. For this I decided to make a bag to go with my Wiener Werkstätte dress and hat.

I turned to the Wiener Werkstätte archive for inspiration, but couldn’t find many images of complete ensembles with bags.

Mela Köhler illustration (with bag), 1911, image © MAK

Photographs which included bags weren’t especially inspiring, either.

Woman with fringed bag, image © MAK

I did find some images of bags in the archive. The styles all seemed to involve either long straps or drawstrings.

Photographs from the Wiener Werkstätte archive, all images © MAK

Widening my search, I found lots of Wiener Werkstätte beaded bags. Some were even brown! However most were from dates later than my dress and hat, and anyway a completely beaded bag was more work than I had time for.

Beaded bag with drawstring and beaded tassel, circa 1915

Beaded bag, 1910, image © Leah Gordon

I was still wondering what to do when I went on my London trip. But then, in one of the shops on Goldhawk Road, I found this brown silk with a metallic brocaded pattern, clearly inspired by Gustav Klimt. It was just the thing for a drawstring bag.

Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt, 1905

Brocaded silk, showing scale

I turned the fabric sideways, so that I could use the contrast selvedge as a feature. It was folded in half to form the top of the bag. I sewed on a length of cotton cord in loops, and covered this with blanket stitch in a metallic yarn to create the looped top common to many of the beaded bags I’d seen.

The loop top completed

The loosely-woven selvedge wasn’t strong enough to support the pull of the gathering, so I added a strip of cotton to reinforce it.

Showing the cotton stay inside

The drawstrings are two simple twisted cords of the same metallic yarn.

With the drawstrings added

The bag is lined with cotton from my stash. I gathered it at the bottom, and added a ‘tassel’ of a glass bead, and loops of rocaille beads in two colours, inspired by the 1910 bag above.

The bead tassel

The completed bag

The small print:
The Challenge: Brown
Fabric: Metallic brocaded silk, cotton for lining
Pattern: My own
Year: circa 1910
Notions: Metallic yarn, glass beads
How historically accurate is it? It’s a mix of lots of different bag styles rather than a copy of any one, so I'd say 50%
Hours to complete: About seven
First worn: Not yet
Total cost: Silk £5, yarn £3.50, everything else from stash, so £8.50


  1. This is a nice bag! Great fabric!

    1. Thank you Laurie! The fabric was just perfect, I could hardly believe my luck when I found it.

  2. Oooooh...this is a super fun bag! I love the colors!

    1. Thank you Gina! There's something I need to make for a future Historical Sew Monthly challenge, and then I hope I'll be able to photograph the whole costume.