Posted by: Lucrece | February 1, 2010

Brick Stitch Embroidered Purse – Medieval Silk Work

Another one of my current projects.

 Last year I spent some time looking at the designs of small pouches as I needed one to keep m’ cash in at events.  Many are pictured hanging on a long cord between the under and over gown.  During the course of that search I came some several people recreating little alms bags or reliquaries heavily embroidered in silk (and I do love silk). 

 They are from the 14th century and centre on a specific region.  There are a number of extant pieces which always intrigues me as it provides a nice break from my usual “how would one make this” pondering.

 Now, yours truly is not a big fan of embroidery; mainly because of my rabid perfectionist tendencies.  If my stitches aren’t all EXACTLY the same it frustrates me.  I just don’t dig freehand. 

 This style, however, involves counting the threads in the base fabric so all the stitches are….the SAME.  Oh so mathematical n’ anal retentive and thus very appealing to me! 

 Yes, there are other counted stitch styles like blackwork but they’re late period and don’t lend themselves to things I make.

 There are several really excellent blogs and sites that inspired me to shake off my long-standing embroidery antipathy and actually give this a try.


            Medieval Silkwork:

            A Stitch out of Time

 The pattern for the bag I’m working on is from Medieval Silkwork and is here:

 Soper’s Lane is another great site; it covers all kinds of 15th century silk work topics.

 So…without further rambling, here’s my first attempt as it is thus far.  It worked on a 36 count Belfast linen, using silk thread (72 strand) which I mail ordered from Devereyarns in the UK.  (


I will have to learn to tablet weave and make finger loop braids so that I can make the cords and join the edges.

I took a great class last August in making tassels and knobs – so will finally get to put it to good use.


I’ve been meaning to devise some sort of method of making my own silk gimp (Gimp is needed for making knobs/knots etc.).



  1. I really like your work!
    Did you make a purse?
    / Maria

    • Thanks Maria, I looked at some of your work wow – I love the weaving and the hood with the daggs? Fantastic I love it! I have to admin I haven’t actually finished this yet :S I got distracted by other projects – I will finish it eventually and it will be a little alms bag.
      thanks for writing – I really love hearing from other reenactors 🙂
      Holly (Lucrece)

  2. Thank you! I’m glad that you like my hood and the weaving.
    Weaving is what I do like most to do, but right now my loom is occupied with the most boring slow project ever. Hopefully I’ll take the time and finish off that weave so I can’t on with some fabric weaves again.

    It’s very easy to sew instead of weaving, takes very little place and is “bringable”. 🙂
    Love to see the purse, when finish!

    / Maria

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