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Vintage Purse Restoration

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Recently I had the great privilege to repair this lovely 1920’s glass handled purse. The owner of this lovely object knew it was from China, most likely Shanghai from the 1920’s. I was honored that she entrusted me to bring it back to a useable state. I am not and don’t claim to be a textile restoration expert but I do know a little and some further research gave me the knowledge I needed to restore this purse.

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These photos show the metal trim holding the glass handles has come loose and had been tied together.

silk purse restoration 8The lining was silk and as you can see, it is in tatters.

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The tassel had these small decorated corks with the silk threads of which it had become undone. The second side which is much like the first side shown, has lovely golden metallic threads and satin stitch low profile stump work. I was afraid the metal threads were fragile and prone to breaking so I was very careful of bending the purse more than I needed to.

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I carefully took apart the lining which moistly disintegrated in my hand, and kept the metal trim attached to the handles. Next I needed to repair the loose threads in the design with as close of a match as I could using silk thread. I didn’t want to use a better match using polyester thread as maintaining the original essence of the purse was important.

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There was three lines of couching with whipping in orange as a frame around the design which had at some point come undone and I wanted to restore this. The left hand picture is the inside of the purse and the vibrancy of the colours was astonishing. It was faded on the outside. this must have been spectacular when it was first made.

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I needed to repair broken seams in the bottom of the purse as well. Shown here, it was all originally hand stitched.

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 I set Sara on the task of detangling the tassel. She has a knack for detangling things. When she managed this we reattached it to the cork and then reattached the cork to the bag. We needed to use a new metal ball bead which we got from a friend since the original was lost. The only problem was the complex frog. There was one still on the other tassel and it was beyond my ability to create so we made a lovely alternative which complimented the master frog makers skill.

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After many enjoyable hours of sleuthing and hand sewing the bag, with it’s new deep blue silk lining and fully restored metal trim attachments to the handles was restored to it’s happy and grateful owner. This purse was a treasure to work with and a joy to study. I am happy to be part of it’s journey and I hope the owners love of this will be carried through to future generations. I only hope that repairs done in the future will not be hindered by my contribution!

Meaghan

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