Sunday, 23 September 2012

Bag Lady

This week I did something extremely alien, to me at least! I bought an evening purse! I do not carry a handbag or purse most of the time, relying on pockets/carrierbags/a rather old satchel-type bag for all the bits and bobs of everyday life. Also I do not have a social life which requires any kind of dressing up, so an EVENING PURSE!! Really quite odd behaviour...

The reason for this crazy purchase is that I have ogled beautiful hand beaded bags almost all my life. My Grandmother's neighbour (the terrifying district nurse, who had a heart of gold in a crusty exterior) gave me a bead embroidered bag when I was about 4 years old, with angel fish swimming around. I later took scissors to it to recycle the beads when I had snagged it a few too many times and broken the catch, these seed beads were among the first I ever used for weaving.

Anyway, I decided, when I began bead embroidery, that a future project would have to be a purse, and lately I've seen several using a purchased bag as the base. The Bad Liz (Liz Thompson) has a few lovely examples on the Bead Embroidery Forever Facebook group. This little purse seemed just the thing to try the technique:

 I could see the embroidery being made as a long strip which would wrap around the bag with a hole for the wrist strap and  the catch, so I made a paper template (using baking parchment, see picture) and then traced this onto vilene (interfacing). I'm not sure what colour beads I'll use so I painted the vilene a kind of dull brown on the basis that it will blend with most things. The paint I used was an acrylic liquid used by the boys in my family for model painting. I diluted it well and applied it to dampened fabric, as I saw this done by Angela Massey of Sharp Tomato at a bead fair and it doesn't seem to affect the 'needling' of the foundation as long as it isn't too thickly applied.

Now to choose some bits from my stash to use as focals...


  1. Have fun! I am looking forward to seeing the finished piece. I love beaded purses, although I do not own one or have I done one.

    1. It is going to be a whole new thing for me too!

  2. Heheheeh...crusty exterior! Can't wait to see what you do and how it turns out. There is a fab lady on the bead fair circuit I do, whose blummin' name escapes me...Alison Nash..thats her! She does beautiful bead embroidery and one of her tutorial things is a beaded bag, albeit I do hanker after her beaded goose. Here is a link for Alison I loves the hedgienog too.

    Do you need any focals? I have some looking for a new home, give me a shout and what sort you want x

    ps free or swop :P

    1. That's a lovely offer Laney, I've probably got enough for this project, but always interested in your works, what sort of swaps did you want?

  3. Ahhhh, I see what you mean. I thought you were making the bag from scratch but how genius to use a purchased one. Its a really interesting shape and design. Looking forward to seeing the finished article and hopefully lots of WIPs too!