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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!



“You’re wearing that? Outside where people can see you?”

Yesterday Sara and I were vendors at a high-end bridal show. It was a great success and we met lots of new and potential clients for the studio. We don’t just make bridal but it was fun to take just that work to the show. I took a few photos before everyone who was waiting to get in got in. By the way, it was at Liberty North here in Barrie, Canada. You can get more information about them at

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What really got under my skin was the clothing that the guests a.k.a brides and friends had chosen to leave the house in. When did being slovenly become acceptable? Oversize track pants and sweater Uggs are not acceptable. I feel like I’m the only one left who thinks that what you wear is a reflection on yourself, your parents and your family. It’s also a reflection on how you feel about the people you are spending your time with. Not to mention the strangers who are subjected to your sloppy and downright nasty choices. I’m not in the mood to be conciliatory and say that everyone has a choice to wear what they want, blah blah blah.

I am  tired of hearing the comment of “I’m comfortable” or “I don’t care what people think of me or “”they will think I’m comfortable.” You aren’t comfortable because you have covered your body parts that you don’t like with layers of cheap jersey so no one sees it. You have only brought attention to your tummy, or butt or whatever.You do care what people think of you because you have chosen to wear your overpriced name brand sweats so “people will think you’re cool” I just think you are an idiot for giving a multimillion dollar company free advertising and I know that you over-payed to look like a boring sheep. I don’t think you are comfortable, I think you look like a slob. I don’t want you to think I’m going to pussy-foot around this. I am comfortable in my properly fitted clothes. We live in a time of stretch everything so my wool pencil skirt, fitted sweater and belt is so comfortable I can take my shoes off at lunch and do a little yoga.

I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have the money” I am a milliner, I don’t exactly have  drawers of cash either. I spend almost all of it on my studio anyway. I believe in second-hand shopping. I use lower end companies such as Joe Fresh for socks, P.J’s T-shirts and tights. I have $20 shoes and I have $465 boots. I believe in spending  money on a better quality item when I can afford to and I don’t like shopping. I also am going to guess you are thinking, “I’m not skinny enough for good clothes.” Bull. I know that plus size clothes are more. I was a plus size and still considered one. I am a size 12 ish. I can’t waltz into a store and buy a damn thing most of the time. I can’t even get undies that fit right. Buy less. You don’t need a massive wardrobe. You need well-fitting, flattering clothes that will stand the test of time, that fit your budget and reflect you.

The bottom line is please, please stop wearing this sloppy, ill-fitting mess. Men too. It makes me nuts. They say the clothes make the man and there is some truth to that. If I look like I am a milliner then people are more inclined to want to be in my studio and purchase something I made.  You are lying to yourself of you think we live in a society that works otherwise. It doesn’t take more money or more time just the desire to require more of yourself. Save the sweats for sweating and the P.J bottoms for bed.


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