Item: 14th Century German Brick Stitch Pouch
Time Period : 14th Century
- White Aida from stash
- Weaving wool in Red, Yellow and Black from my tablet weaving stash
- Black silk dupioni
- Black Linen thread for buttonholes
- Same weaving wool was used for the braiding
- Same silk was used to pad out the heads of the tassels
- Black sewing thread
- Embroidery frame
- Embroidery needles
- Sewing needles
- Fabric scissors
- Thread snips
- Iron and ironing board
- A smooth tea towel (I used a printed linen one)
- A good light as your eyes will get tired
Deciding on a design
As this was to be a practical piece made to be used as part of the everyday kit of a friend’s 14th century outfit and I knew it needed to be big enough to fit a small torch, a business card, some change and knowing our group, nutmegs, beans and whatever else is part of the game Master Ed is running at an event.
I looked at a bunch of extant purses from Germany and the low countries ad decided on a size that was slightly bigger my hand so that things in the bottom could be easily extracted without fuss, at this time I also decided on the tassel, braid and cord arrangments that I wanted - I was not intending to make an exact replica of a particular item but rather I wanted something that was realistically feasible in period that would suit the purpose it was made for and the taste of the person it was a gift for.
As I have never done brickwork/satin stitch embroidery before and haven’t done any sort of embroidery except for cross stitch as a child I used a tutorial written by Racaire and can be found HERE you do have to buy a subscription to see the tutorial but I found it well worth it as Racaire’s instructions are clear and easy to follow.
I decided on my colours based on the material available to me and drew up an image of how I wanted the pouch to look when completed – this changed slightly when I added the decorative details but it gave me something to reference during the process.
Working the embroidery
I recommend you check out the tutorial linked above or google search other brick stitch tutorials as I am not good enough to acutally explain it myself, I can only describe my experience.
The exact size was dictated by the pattern as I did not want to cut it off at the edges and I wanted to have a clean edge so just filled in the edge in red.
I initially started working in rows but quickly discovered that it was a LOT easier to count out the pattern if I worked each fret as a whole before moving onto the next.
Using a temporary line of stitching in a contrasting colour helped ensure I didn’t make (too many) counting mistakes.
The pouch is not made from two panels of embroidery stitched together on three sides – it is made from one panel of embroidery that is folded over and stitched on the two long sizes. To make the fold more definite I left a row between the front and back and then stitched down a decorative braid made using these instructions… I probably wouldn’t do this again, it was slow and annoying to do and I would probably just stitch a length of fingerloop braid down in the future for the sake of my sanity.
Constructing the pouch
I decided to line my pouch in silk so I cut the embroidery off the frame leaving 1 cm along the sides and 2.5CM at each end for the lacing section, I cut the silk to the same dimension, pinned the lining and embroidery right sides together and stitched the long edges together.
I then turned the pouch panel in the right way and pressed it gently with the iron – I did not iron directly onto the embroidery but I dampened the tea towel and laid that over the embroidery before I ironed it so that it flattened the embroidery stitches but did not cause them to become too flat and smooth/shiney. This helped the stitches to fill in the gaps between them more.
I then cut out two pieces of silk about 7cm long and the same width as the pouch and stitched them onto the lacing ends of the pouch.
I made the eyelet holes with the awl and then worked them in waxed lined – they are worked in 8 pairs.
Then I whip stitched the sides together and then attached a long fingerloop braid for the belt loop along the sides.
The braids are worked in yellow and black wool and are made using a variation of a 5 bowe braid that allows you to braid two braids at once – or one long braid. I used braid no. 3 from this page
The tassels are simple are are made using this tutorial
I used small offcut strips of the black silk to padd them out and then simply covered them in black wool as if I was covering a simple button.
This type of pouch would have likely been worked in silk thread and lined in linen, I had initially intended to work it in silk but was very sick when I started and it wasn’t until I was a couple of frets in that I realised it was wool and not silk but as it was a first attempt I decided to go with it.
As mentioned above this was not made to be a reproduction of a specific item but rather was made in a style of extant pouches.
Final thoughts and photographs
I’m very happy with this item and I can’t wait to make a pouch for myself -it's one of the prettiest things I've ever made so I'm looking forward to making one for myself in colours that are more suitable for my garb wardrobe.
My purse pintrest board (I use pintrest as a way to keep bookmarks so most of the pins are not repinned but are pinned recently by myself so should work ) This is an ongoing board so additions will be made from time to time as I refind my reference images (which are saved on my computer and I won't upload - I will slowly add the original links to the pintrest board)
It occured to me that I should include images of MEN wearing this type of purse as it's more common for men to wear a kidney shaped pouch on their hip and for women to wear a suspended pouch - however there is pictorial images of men wearing alms purses suspended from their belts - eg
This image of a man giving alms to a pauper from the Luttrell Psalter (English 1320-1340)
And this image from the Romance of Alexander (French, 1338-1344)
And I can't forget this image from the Manesse Codex (German 1304-1340)