A sparkles and tassels reticule


November’s Historical Sew Fortnightly challenge was Purses & Bags – and, despite everything else that was going on, I managed to make a thing!



It did take me more than a month though.  I started it at our Historical Retreat (we tried to cram reticule making and bonnet making into one weekend – and of course finished neither), and didn’t get it done until the first Wednesday in December.

I was inspired by the shape of this reticule from LACMA:

Reticule, 1800-1825, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art

And the decorations of this bag from MFA Boston:

Drawstring bag, American about 1800, Cross barred cotton, embroidery, MFA Boston 48.1222

I used my gilt linen of doom: the stuff I used for these stays, and this pair of bodies  (which were one of my entires for the very first Historical Sew Fortnightly – back when it was still fortnightly!) – and I still have a couple more metres of it to go!

Because I was sewing sequins as decoration, I decided to line the reticule, to keep the knots and thread from catching on whatever I put in the bag.



I used a blonde habotai silk for the lining, and the so-called ‘English Stitch’ to attach the four panels of the reticule.  The drawstring facing is a separate piece of fabric, and in retrospect I should have used the silk, or something else that was lighter weight.


The tassels are made from cotton embroidery floss.


The sequins are vintage, and I thought they were metal, but after an unhappy accident with the iron that required me to replace more than half of them, I discovered that they are NOT metal.  Ooops…


All the stitches and techniques I used in the bag are documented in ca. 1800 sewing, but I’m not sure if they would have been used to make this type of reticule.

I’m moderately happy with the finished effect, but not thrilled.  I might re-do the top casing, and see if that makes the gathers more attractive.  And make a cord out of embroidery floss, with tassels at the ends, because more tassels is always a good thing!

The Challenge: #11 Purses & Bags

Fabric:  .3m of gilt linen ($4), .3m of silk habotai ($2, thrifted)

Pattern:  My own, based on the dimensions given in museum records

Year:  ca. 1800

Notions:  cotton thread ($1), sequins (20c), cotton embroidery floss ($9), cotton ribbon ($3)

How historically accurate is it?:  The fabric is questionable (similar-ish fabrics did exist, but I can’t fine any examples of it being used for a reticule), the sequins are a modern type, and in-period the tassels were probably silk.  All of my stitches are accurate to the period, but I can’t document them being used for this type of bag.  Maybe 60%

Hours to complete:  8ish, while doing other things.

First worn:  Not yet.  I need a ball to go to!

Total cost:  NZ$19.20 or thereabouts.



  1. Janine says

    Beautiful❤❤❤. Could you please share the link or the bag measurements?
    Thanks a lot in advance

    • Thank you! Links to both museum bags are already included in the blog post 🙂 (I’m pretty pedantic about including links or full museum record #s, so its easy to find the item in all my posts).

  2. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    What is “gilt linen”? The fabric doesn’t look different (in the photos) from regular linen

    It is a charming reticule.

    • Gilt linen is a linen with a gilded finish applied. If you look at the photos you should be able to see that the linen is significantly shinier than a regular linen, which is quite matte. It might be easier to see in some of the other garments made from the fabric – the ones I’ve linked. And thank you 🙂

  3. Pretty! That seems like a good use for that fabric. Perfect for a ballroom! You definitely need a ball to go to! I enjoy reticules with tassels on them.


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