Beginning the Journey Back in Time

Good Afternoon Faire Ladies and Gents,

I come to you today with much to tell!  We have officially begun to construct our vintage handbags.  I have chosen to start with a basic linen bag with an overflap for closure.   The bag itself is dated back to the 1880’s and is called a Miser’s Purse. A Miser is a person who saves their pennies for rainy days and the sunny days, too!  The flap is a hand-painted closure that is framed by real antique lace.  Although we do not know how old the lace is, Shenlei has been collecting antique lace for quite some time now and she says it’s probably Edwardian.

We first needed to wash the lace. Being that it is antique, we had to do this very carefully as you can see in the pictures.  We had bought Ivory® soap and then grated it with a cheese grinder and added just a little bit of water to create a paste.  We then filled a bowl with warm water and let the lace soak in it for about 10 minutes. Then, a little bit of soap paste was added to the water and the lace was soaked in that for another ten minutes. It was then rinsed and the process was repeated about 3 more times.  After, we let it out to air dry until just a little damp. We then ironed it lightly further press it out and block it to shape.  The lace came out much more beautiful and whiter than before!

We then started with the cutting out and then spent a while on transferring the initial design over to the flap closure.  We do this with what is known as transfer paper to the sewing world.  It is  a slightly tacky paper with colored chalk or wax on one side that is laid color side down to the fabric.  You then lay the design (pencil side up) over the backside of the transfer paper and use what is called a tracing wheel (similar to a miniature pizza cutting wheel) to go over the design with pressure. The design is then transferred over to the linen with a dust-like tacky substance.  This can easily be washed out or brushed away as desired and will not harm the fabric.

After the design was placed, it was then time to hand paint!  I had printed out a couple pictures for color and shading references for the flowered design we chose.  I then had gathered our paints and practiced outside for the natural light on sketching paper (thick enough to act as both a canvas and a palette).  I have included some pictures for you to see!  Shenlei is going to work with me later on better shading technique before we continue to the actual linen. 

I’ll have more to catch you up on later after our session.  Enjoy the pics thus far! 🙂

Hugs and Kisses,


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