October 28, 2009

Reticule Pattern from 1831-1865

Civil War Reenactor Sewn Reticule        This pattern was originally published in 1831, the book itself was reprinted up until 1865. This reticule looks very  period due to its asymmetrical  nature. Today we tend to shy away from anything asymmetrical, especially in purses. This would be a great reenactment piece as it appeals to the mindset of the time period and not our mindset today.
        The transcendentalist mindset of the period  focused  on the individual person and individuality. Individuality  was expressed through a limited  spectrum (dresses, hair, sleeves, jewelry, home furnishings) due to the heightened discrimination at the time. Remember, anyone wealthier than you, didn't need much of a reason to get you put into a mental hospital and it didn't take much for you to become estranged from all of your neighbors and associates (perhaps why they had such a strong etiquette system.) This reticule is an example of conforming while nonconforming.
        This is a simple project that you could practice your hand sewing on or your embroidery skills.   

From the American Girl’s Book (1831) by Miss Eliza Leslie


           "Cut your silk into three pieces of equal size. Each must be about a quarter of a yard in depth, and half a quarter wide. The sided of each must be straight till within a finger’s length of the bottom; they must then be sloped off to a point. Sew those three pieces of silk together, (inserting a covered cord between the seams,) and make them all meet in a point at the bottom. Put a tassel or bow at each corner, and one at the bottom. Hem down the top, and run a ribbon into it."

To make this really easy, I diagrammed out a pattern. You have to cut out three, I recommend lining it with muslin or cotton if you are going to use silk. The top dotted line is where you will fold to make the casing for the drawstring. The bottom dotting line will fold naturally when it is sewn together.

        I drew out what the bottom of the bag should look like after it's sewn, the picture in the book did not show the bottom well.

There are lots of ways to embroider your reticule. I recommend initials, just in case you lose it, it will be a little easier to get it back. I am embroidering this one with beads but normal thread embroidery would look great too. 


  1. Yo sería feliz de recibir comentarios en español para este puesto.Estoy empezando a aprender a hablar español. Me ayudaría mucho. Gracias.

  2. Thanks for printing this pattern. I, too, am a Civil War reenactor, but I've only been involved for about a year. Love it!!!!

  3. Thanks Reta, I have lots of patterns on here. If you have a specific request, don't be afraid to ask in a comment.

  4. Thanks for your pattern for the lovely reticule. I plan to create a knitted pattern using these dimensions. Love your website.

  5. Precisely what I was looking for! Thanks for posting this great diagram.


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