Victorian Mourning Purses…or Vampire Purses!

So how did I really get along with all those plans to ‘get ahead’ this year?

DSC_0093Pretty well in all honesty, the above photo being taken all the way back in June, how about that for thinking ahead!  The problem wasn’t so much the making as the photographing everything, which I had planned to do in the summer holidays but due to various life dramas, didn’t manage to pull off; the issue here being that you need the right light to get good photos of ‘black’ but lucky me, we’ve held onto some really lovely weather recently, resulting in days with nicely naturally diffused light which has been just perfect.

DSC_0050First up (I have kind of given the game away with the top photo of what’s coming this week) is my favourite purse yet and I guess I should start with the inspiration.  When I was teenager I started to collect antique clothing, something my Mum encouraged (she gave me many of the things in my collection, along with my Gran), I particularly loved anything Victorian and black, and ideally beaded.  Back in those days, especially when I was at art college, I often wore the clothing too, as I was lucky enough to be quite thin and managed to fit into it all.  Then there was a fire in one of the student houses I lived in and much of my collection when up in smoke, I was so upset and I sifted through, attempting to salvaged any bits of the lace and beadwork as it was too beautiful to throw away; my original thinking was that I would love to use some of these pieces on purses, with (ideally!) vintage silk and velvet as a backdrop.


Well it didn’t pull off, as I couldn’t find my bag of smokey lace and bead bits and when I attempted to source some, along with vintage fabric remnants, the price was frightening.  Instead, I opted for buying some lovely modern bead, sequin and appliqued panels and some cotton velvet.  I did use some silk fabric that I’ve had in a box for years and years, it was intended for use as decoration on a period hat I made in night classes but it has such a perfect, slightly dense weight that I decided to cut into it.

DSC_0188The beaded applique cost a pretty penny, but I think it really works.  I went a little overboard when stitching it on, and even re-stitched each bead and sequin into place so they don’t ever drop off.  I added machine pleats to the silk, which really reminds of one of the coats that went up in smoke all those years ago, it was covered in pleats and beads, a really beautiful thing *sob*.


The lining is in russet silk.  I have vampires on the brain at the moment, my next book in line to read is Dracula and I made my brother drive us to Whitby when I spent a couple of days with him over summer, it was a lot, A LOT busier than I remembered it from my teenage years, which is probably when I last went and I was so determined to buy some Victorian Whitby Jet but it was all out of my price range 😦  Still, I digress, the thing is I also kind of think of this as a ‘Vampire’ purse, hence the timing of listing it before Halloween and the contrast of black with red silk; incidentally, I’d have loved to use a vivid scarlet red, but I’ve been making a point of using up my fabric stash and so russet it is.

DSC_0193I’ve stuck with my favourite 8 inch (20cm) antiqued bobble clip frame.  I love these, I do have other frames waiting to be used but for this purse, this frame is just perfect.


This is a makes where I’m tempted to keep one back for myself, I really, really like it, but I have to stop sneaking one aside as I will end up with more purses than I can use and never make any money!  I did list one on Folksy, but it sold the same day (thank you C!!) so there are just the ones on my shop site now.

I hope to crack on with the rest of my Halloween listings this coming week, I still have photos to take so it depends on whether the weather plays ball, but I’m secretly ready for a chillier tone now and some tweed and wool to come out…just not until after I’ve finished photographing black!

16 thoughts on “Victorian Mourning Purses…or Vampire Purses!

  1. These purses are so gorgeous Beth 🙂 I love the silk lining inside, a lovely contrast that works so well. There really gorgeous. I’m a bit obsessed with victorian/ beaded items! The more gothic the better! I’m sure your going to love reading Dracula, it’s one of my favourites now and so great to read it near Halloween 🙂 we watched a scary old film called Nosferatu, a rip off of the Dracula story at the time but very good and so very creepy, will have to watch it again near Halloween! Hope your well, your sewing is lovely 🙂 safxxx

  2. Beth the most wonderful package arrived this morning. I can honestly say my heart sang when I opened it! The bunny purse is even better than I imagined, and bigger! I LOVE it! And Gwennan will too. How will I manage to keep it secret til Christmas? The fairy is exquisite and I know I will be decorating around it this Christmas! THANK YOU x

  3. Beautiful purses, Beth,
    Just fantastic! All the details are simply perfect. I am so so sorry for your precious things disappearing on the fire – that is just so sad knowing how much you loved it all.

    Happy October!


  4. What an awful shame about your vintage clothing. What an terrible thing to have happened.
    You’ve chosen some lovely appliqué and fabrics for this purse – they’re totally brilliant. Jill xx

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