Posts Tagged ‘Edwardian accessories’

Two ladies from the Edwardian era, both wearing belts.

After I had made my Edwardian walking skirt and its matching Zouave jacket, I had decided that an Edwardian belt was in order. It was a basic belt using a pattern from Jean Hunnisett’s book, Period Costumes for Stage and Screen (1800-1909). I had not considered blogging about this belt, as it was a quick and easy project, but it is one of those accessories that really does make a difference to the costume! You can see it in the photo below.

My Edwardian belt in action at a Picnic at Hanging Rock excursion.

Now, because I often wear this particular walking skirt and jacket ensemble for steampunk occasions (as sexy-and-skimpy steampunk is not my thing!), I decided to make a steampunk belt to wear with it too. My plan was to use a similar style and shape to my first belt, and just add black leather and silver to “punk” it up.

I really wanted a belt made from real leather, but my leather-making skills are a bit rudimentary to make something from scratch. After looking at this tutorial by Susan Dennard, I decided to try and find a leather handbag to repurpose.

Unfortunately, I was so excited about this project that, once I had found a bag at a local second-hand shop for only $4, I forgot all about taking photos of it before I started unpicking it to pieces! So here is a picture of a similar type of bag to the one I used.

My handbag was very similar to this (except black), with two front “pouches”.

Tip: Get a leather needle (a needle specially designed for sewing leather) and a good thimble when hand sewing a leather project!! The poor fingers took a beating…

Construction Steps:

Step One: I made an Edwardian belt shape using two layers of black cotton broadcloth, interlined with two layers of very firm woven interfacing (similar to buckram). The centre front points had a steel bone wedged in there to keep the front stiff. Each side of the centre backs also had a steel bone underneath the leather binding to help with stiffness too!

Step Two: The belt was bound with leather strips obtained from the handbag. In particular, the leather strips on either sides of the zips were particularly useful for this! I tried to reuse the existing stitching marks when I was hand sewing.

Step Three: I used scraps of the leather to attach some D-rings, making it easy to attach things to the belt. (I used the sewing machine to sew these, as the multiple layers of leather were proving too difficult for my fingers!)

Front view of the belt, showing the very simple shape. You can see the D-rings poking out the bottom of the belt.

The inside view of the front, showing the inside of the binding and the D-rings attached.

Eyelets were hammered in and lacing (black grosgrain ribbon) added.

Back view, showing the eyelets and lacing. You can also see some joins in the binding.

The inside view of the back.

Step Four: Now for the accessories! The thing I really wanted was to have some pouches or bags to put some things in when I’m out-and-about in costume.

I cut the two pouches off the front of the bag (if I had unpicked them from the bag, there would have been no pouch left!) and sewed the two pieces together. Luckily the tops of the pouches had some convenient rings (where the handles of the bag had been attached) that I used to attach it to the belt.

Affectionately called “my saddle bags”! Shown here attached to the belt with some clips.

Step Five: The other accessory I really wanted was a way to carry a parasol and a fan. Using the biggest leather pieces (from the bottom of the bag and the other side that didn’t have the pouches), I fashioned a tube to hold the parasol. The top of the tube was wider than the bottom, so that the parasol would not fall through.

The top of the tube was bound with a piece of leather that also had a ring attached (which was another ring used to hold the handles of the bag). This was going to be useful to attach the holder to the belt. Inside this top binding I inserted a large metal ring (7 cm in diameter) to help keep the opening open when in use. The bottom of the tube has another smaller metal ring (5 cm in diameter) in it, with the leather tube then folded over it and hand stitched in place.

The end pieces of the handbag (the sides where the zips start and finish) became a good part for the fan holder, and this piece was sewn to the side of the parasol holder. (It is a good idea to do this before you sew the tube together!)

The parasol holder, with a fan holder attached to the outside.

Finally, there was one last matching ring (that held the handles of the handbag) that I hand sewed onto the lower edge of the parasol holder. A length of chain was added to this ring to make the two attachment points different lengths. This helps make the parasol hang on an angle, kind of like a sword scabbard does.

Here is the holder attached to the belt, with the parasol and fan inside.

The last D-ring on the belt will be used for my steampunk chatelaine.

I still have a tiny bit of leather left over, including the handles, the front clasp and a few little bits left from the binding. (Maybe for another accessory later on!) There’s a few good zips and the rest is the innards!

The left over parts!

This belt will be worn at a Steampunk picnic that I am going to in a month, so I will post a picture of it in use as soon as I have one to post.

I am pretty pleased with this project! I would like to get more tools to use in leather craft and explore making some more things. I should even get my old Singer industrial sewing machine serviced, as I think it would do a great job in sewing leather! That might save my fingers too.

Now for a cup of tea!

Related Posts

Making a 1902 Walking Skirt

Making an early Edwardian Zouave Jacket

Making a Steampunk Chatelaine

Sources and Relevant Links

Period Costumes for Stage and Screen: Patterns for Womens Dress 1800-1909, by Jean Hunnisett – buy on Amazon

How to make a steampunk utility belt – by Susan Dennard

Edwardian Belt – by Sew Historically






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A bag or purse, made from silk velvet and steel beads, c. 1905, from LACMA.

A silk velvet bag, beaded with steel beads, c. 1905, from LACMA.

The most annoying thing I find when dressing up in historical costume is when I have spent so much time on getting my garments completed, only to realise that I really should have spent some time focussing on gathering accessories. I have improved at this over time, beginning to first be aware of my hairstyle, and then whether I should wear gloves or jewellery.

Most recently I was particularly irritated to find that I really needed to take a handbag to an event (rather than a cane basket, which is often my go-to historical handbag accessory) and I had nothing historically suitable and had to use my modern handbag. It just didn’t feel right walking down the street in my lovely Victorian clothes and carrying my huge black leather handbag over my shoulder.

An Early 19th Century velvet purse, with an embroidered and beaded design, from Granite Pail Collectables.

An early 19th Century red velvet purse, with an embroidered and beaded design, as well as looped beaded edging, from Granite Pail Collectables.

So I decided to embark on making a handbag. I have reticules that I use for Regency, and large pockets that I use for 18th century clothing, but the real absence in my bag-wardrobe was something for the Victorian and Edwardian period.

During the late Victorian and early Edwardian period there were many many different styles of bags. There were beaded bags, embroidered bags, crocheted bags, metal mesh bags, leather bags, tatted bags, drawstring bags, clasp-style bags… I could go on! And there were just as many different sizes and shapes as well.

I eventually decided I wanted a clasp-style bag, with a short chain, but large enough to hold my essentials; that is, a phone, wallet, fan, and car keys. I found a remnant of scarlet velvet and also some white satin in my stash and purchased some black beads, a black clasp and a black chain from my local craft store.


I followed the instructions by Guthrie & Ghani on how to draft your own pattern for a metal frame purse. This was a great tutorial and my finished pattern looked like this!

The pattern for the clasp bag, drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper.

The pattern for the clasp bag, drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper.

It is drawn on 1/4 inch grid paper and does not include seam allowances. After I had begun I foolishly discovered that this size of bag would probably not fit my fan in it, so I added a bit extra on to the seam allowances to make it longer (and slightly wider).


I have not detailed my construction steps here, as I found many tutorials on making this type of bag, and I have included some of the ones I used in the Sources list below.

As I was working with velvet, I decided to draw the pattern piece onto the back of the material with an embroidery design for the beading I wanted to complete.

The beading pattern was drawn on the back of the velvet. The beading here has already been started.

The beading pattern was drawn on the back of the velvet. The beading on this panel has already been started.

The beading was done with solid black seed beads and a larger diamond-shaped bead.

The beading detail on the bag, taken with the flash on (which is why the velvet looks so red!).

The beading detail on the bag (taken with the flash on, which is why the velvet looks so red!).

Once the beading was completed for both sides of the bag, it was cut to size and sewn together. The white satin lining was also cut and sewn. I decided to add a little internal pocket on the lining. For tips on sewing the bag together, check out this tutorial from So Sew Easy.

The corners of the bag were “boxed” to allow better fitting of items inside. There are some helpful tutorials online on how to do this.

The bottom edge was beaded with an overlapping scalloped type of fringe.

The bottom of the bag, showing the boxed corners and the scalloped beading.

The bottom of the bag, showing the boxed corners and the scalloped beading.

Depending on the type of clasp you purchase, some bags need to be glued in place, while others need to be sewn in place. I bought one that needed to be sewn. I used vertical stitches to sew the top edge of the bag inside the metal frame, which was the most common technique I had found on extant bags of this type.

The bag sewn to the metal clasp, showing the vertical (rather than horizontal stitches).

The bag sewn to the metal clasp, showing the vertical (rather than horizontal stitches). You can also see the slight gathering around the top of the bag.

I also gathered the top edge of my bag with gathering stitches to help ease in the fullness (which came from me enlarging the pattern at the beginning). The benefit of having gathers at the top is that it increases the capacity of the bag.

The inside view of the finished bag, showing the internal pocket and the stitches that attached the bag to the frame.

The inside view of the finished bag, showing the internal pocket and the stitches that attached the bag to the frame. The gathered top edge of the bag can also be seen.

And here it is all finished!



It is quite a roomy bag, for a little one anyway.

Just in time to take to a Victorian picnic this weekend! I also plan to use this bag for a Titanic-themed dinner later on in the year.

My outing to the Victorian picnic, showing my new bag in action!

My outing to the Victorian picnic, showing my new bag in action!


Related Posts

Titanic Panic! – Making a Chemise/Drawer Combination Suit – the first in a series of posts on 1912 costume.

My Regency Journey: Making Reticules

Making an Embroidered Pocket

Sources and Relevant Links

Image 1 Source: A silk velvet purse, c. 1905, from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Image 2 Source: An early 19th Century purse, from Granite Pail Collectables.

How to draft your own pattern to make a metal frame purse – by Guthrie and Ghani

How to sew a coin purse with a sew-in metal frame – by So Sew Easy

DIY: 1920’s evening bag – by The Closet Historian

How to Box Corners – by Sew 4 Home

How to do Beaded Fringe – by Beadwork

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