Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1895 Miser Bag ~ My Latest Vintage Reproduction Project

Here's my latest project. From the moment I saw my first vintage miser bag, I knew I had to make one. There is just something magical about them, like a puzzle left for us to solve from the 1800's.

So I guess I should start out with a little history. Miser bags were popular in the 19th century and were used to carry money by both men and women. The name "miser" comes from the design in that the pockets are somewhat concealed and not as quickly accessed. There are many designs from extremely ornate beaded bags to simple little cotton ones. Men would carry them in their pockets whereas women were more likely to carry them folded over a belt or in their hands as a dainty accessory. They were often weighted at each end with decorative beads to help keep them in place.

The one you see here is a very simple version. I may still add a beaded fringe and some embroidery to dress it up, but I was anxious to show you my progress. This bag is made from wool, but I will be eventually working the pattern up in a fiber with silky qualities as miser bags were very often made form silk. I will be making
this pattern available at Wind Rose when it is complete. I can't wait to share it with you!

There is no great substitute for actually getting to handle a miser bag, but since I can't put it in your palm and let you experience it, I've taken lots of pictures.

In the left photo, you can see the miser bag laid out flat. Each end has a little bag and they are held together by chains. The ring in the middle can be used to attach the purse to a belt or you can wear it like a ring and clutch the purse in your hand.

The middle photo shows one side of the bag with the flap up. There is no apparent opening until you pull on the bag. As you can see in the picture on the right, the chains draw through the flap and reveal the opening of the purse.

Here I'm showing how the pocket opens and you can slip your belongings inside. They just slide in between the chains. You can see that this pocket is the perfect size for my iPod. If I wanted to travel light, I could have my music in one end and my cash and keys in the other. When you want to close your miser bag, you just give the chains a pull and the pockets close like a drawstring or in this case strings.

I just love the miser bag and I can't wait to finish this design so I can create even more. I can see so many applications for this little coin purse that it's making my head spin! I'm forcing myself to stay calm long enough to provide you with a good basic pattern. Once you work through it for yourself, I just know you're going to love it and want to make it your own. The design possibilities seem endless!


Anonymous said...

I love your bag!I first heard of miser bags in a crochet book at got at the library, but they had no pictures!It was just a written history. I'm googleing them and trying to figure out how to make one. X

Jenn said...

Thank you! I fell in love with Miser's bags last year. You may have already found them, but listed under patterns:


I have two patterns for sale and one I gave away for free as a blog tutorial. I hope you find them helpful in your explorations and thanks for visiting Wind Rose!