The ninth stop on my Regency Journey is to make a reticule, the Regency version of a handbag.
In the 18th century, women had carried their various personal effects in pockets worn underneath their wide dresses, but with the introduction of the long slim dresses of the Regency, pockets were discarded. Instead, women began to carry small bags, called reticules.
There was no “common” type of reticule in the Regency era, much like there is no “common” handbag today, but instead there was a wide range of designs, colours and embellishments used. There were knitted ones, netted ones, and others made out of fabric. They were decorated with embroidery, sequins, lace, tassels, ribbon and beads.
I wanted to make several reticules to match the different outfits I had made for the Jane Austen Festival. This meant that I could experiment with several different designs.
Making a Regency Reticule
There are many online tutorials and free patterns and instructions for making Regency reticules, so rather than repeat what has already been done, I will outline the basics.
The basics to making a reticule:
- To make a reticule, make sure your material is at least 10-12 inches deep and, if you are doing a round-shaped reticule, 20 inches across. You need to have it big enough to put your hand in, as well as a fan, gloves and maybe a purse, car keys or mobile phone. (Mobile phones are DEFINITELY Regency! *wink*)
- Regardless of your design, lining your reticule is preferable, as it gives a nicer finish because there are no raw seams showing. If you are gathering the bottom edge of the reticule (as you do for a round-shaped one), the lining will stop items falling out the bottom, as there is a small hole around the bottom gathers in the outer fabric.
- Gather the top with a two-way drawstring, that way it is easier to close. It also means you have two nice handles to hold it by.
- There are quite a few different shapes that a reticule can take, so experiment with different patterns.
- Embroidery on reticules was very common in Regency times. If you are not very confident doing your own embroidery, try and find some fabric that is already embroidered.
- It is a good idea to finish decorating the outer bag before attaching the lining! I was amazed how difficult it was to attach tassels once the bag was made!
The next stop on My Regency Journey is looking at Regency accessories.
You can read all of my posts in order at My Regency Journey.
Sources and Relevant Links
Different types of reticules – this site has links to quite a variety of period museum examples of Regency reticules
Free pattern for a reticule – I used this to make my ballgown reticule.
Video Tutorial for making a reticule – similar to my round-shaped reticule.
Jane Austen Festival Australia – website