Saturday, April 7, 2012

Experiments with Vintage Linen Pouches

Throughout the years I have rescued many vintage linens from garage sales and Goodwill. I have a couple full plastic totes stored under my bed.  What is the definition of a hoarder again?

Recently, I decided to dig out a few lovely embroidered pieces and make little purses from them.   I've started with the ones with holes or stains, leaving the pristine ones alone for now.  However, they may fall victim yet as these are turning out to be fun to make.
Unfortunately, I've given away several already and forgot to take pictures of them.  I hate that when I do that!

I've been doing a few experiments on the best way to construct these.  I've been learning a lot from others that I've pinned on my Pinterest Sewing board.

Experiment 1 - How to construct.  My favorite way to make these is to sew the front and the lining to each side of the zipper, then match the right sides of the front and lining together and sew around the edge leaving an opening to turn.  That way you hide the seams inside.  Remember to lock down the stitches at the opening because if you don't when you are pulling through the fabric to turn it inside out they will pull open.

Also, I IRON EVERYTHING!  In my opinion the key to sewing is to iron, iron, iron every seam.  I even iron the zipper.

Experiment 2 - Zippers: So far my favorite construction technique is illustrated by kelbysews.  This tutorial has resulted in the nicest looking zippers.  However, I'm still struggling a bit with getting the tabs that hide the zipper ends to lay flat.  I think I am sewing a bit too close to the tab and not leaving enough space to allow them to lay flat when turned inside out.

Experiment 3 - Interfacing:  I have been pretty unhappy with iron on interfacing.  I find that it puckers too much.  I used quilted interfacing on a few and really didn't like the way it gets so puffy, although some pouches did turn out pretty nice using that. 

The best thing I've found has been using a layer of duck cloth or canvas in between layers as a interlining.    That seems to let the fabric move naturally but still provides the sturdiness these pouches need for support.

Experiment 4 -  Lining: I've found that making the lining out of thin material makes it the pouch lay flat and isn't bulky.  Also remember to cut the lining a 1/4 inch smaller on the bottom or sew a seam farther from the edge so it lays nice inside.

Experiment 5 - Interior pockets:  I think when you've got the construction down, then it's time to start adding special touches like interior pockets, flaps, loops to hold items, etc.   I think that really adds some surprise and detail to them.  I really like using vintage fold over seam binding to put a finished top on the pockets. Or, I've been playing with the various machine stitches to finish off the inside.  For a couple I used small leftover embroidered pieces or pieces with beautifully finished edges.  This is were I get creative!

Experiment 6 - Embellishments for the zippers.  I like adding a zipper pull made from my bead stash or other found objects. More isn't less, MORE IS MORE!

Experiment 7 - Embellishing ready-made pouches.  I've found several purses, totes or pouches at Goodwill that simply needed a bit of something to make them fun.  I also keep an eye out for company logo'd items I can cover up.  I find that most of those items are pretty high quality because companies use them for marketing and don't want to distribute cheap items to their customers.

Hope my experiments are helpful and prevent you from having to repeat my mistakes!


  1. I love these! What a great way to recycle, I always wonder what in the world I'll do with the stained linens I have...There is a local woman here who makes dolls with them, but I really like your idea! Found you at Weekend Wander

  2. What a great idea! And yes, you are right -- my sewing teacher from way back when always said, 'iron, iron, iron' and to this day, I do that when I sew anything! I love the details on these and that you are finding a great way to keep these beautiful linens around!

  3. I LOVE these bags. I too have a little collection of old doilies / embroideries that I treasure but don't need. I have pinned it to inspire me and I am your latest pinterest follower as well as blog follower. I seem to have found a kindred spirit. :) feel free to check out my blogs, although I haven't done much embroidery of late. cheers, Dee

  4. What a great Idea I have tons of vintage doilies and hankies now I know what to do with them. I just hope I can figure it out. Thanks for posting this.