Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Sweete Bag Replica

 I am having to put the dragonbird a bit to one side as I have been given a commission with quite a tight deadline. But it really is a dream job!

I am making a replica of a Jacobean Sweete Bag for Gawthorpe Hall Textile Collection in Padiham, Lancashire. This little bag is 14 cm x 12.5 cm and made with silk and metal threads embroidered on a linen fabric. Only one side is embroidered, mainly in tent stitch, the other is a patterned silk, there is a metal thread lace round the top and a plaited/twisted metal thread cord. But it has 3D embroidered petals in detached buttonhole on each of the flower motifs and as this picture shows it is a classic example of a Sweete bag!

The Gawthorpe Hall Sweete Bag

The worst thing is, it is in quite a frail state as you see. Lots of stitches are missing as is some of the base fabric and the original colours are anybody's guess. So I have been doing quite a lot of research. 

One of the best books around on the actual making of these little bags is by Jacqui Carey called 'Sweet Bags' and she explains many of the differences between modern stitches and 16th/17th century stitches as well as how to recreate a sweete bag

This weekend I finalised the pattern and got it traced up. Then I framed up the linen I'm using and transferred the design by pricking and pouncing it.

Design finally on!

I am using a 32 count natural linen from Willow Fabrics which is the same thread count as the original.
The threads will be silks from Devere Silks and silver and gilt passing and purls from Golden Threads. 

So tomorrow, hopefully, I will get started with some stitching.


  1. What a wonderful project - how long have you got to finish it?

  2. Hi Rachel,
    Got to be done by the end of May, stitched and made up. Thought I'd better get a shifty on in case if those problems that crop up unexpectedly! :0
    Yes it really is a dream come true with that bit if scariness as well. Hope my interpretation of the missing bits - like the colour! - works out OK.

  3. What an amazing challenge for you, good luck getting it finished by the end of May.