1861 Crochet Purse (Historic Pattern for Modern Crocheter)

Dear Sis, thanks so much for helping me get this pattern ready! 🙂

Peterson’s Crochet Silk Purse, 1861

Skill Level: Easy. If you can crochet with fine thread (think doily) and do the slip stitch, double crochet and chain you can make it!

Materials: 25 grams of Silk Yarn, 1.80 or 1.90 MM crochet hook, embroidery needle, 3″ cardboard or plastic for making tassels, sewing needle, thread (I use a ply of the silk yarn)

Size: Without tassels, is approximately 4.5 – 5 inches long and 3.5 inches wide.

What Type of Yarn do I need?: I use and sell silk that is somewhere between lace weight and 20/2 cobweb.  You can purchase silk at my Etsy store, or from a number of other places. I have used both reeled mulberry and cultivated mulberry silks. Both work fine, but have different feels to them.

Your crocheting is complete! Now, time for tassels and cords.

Bottom Tassels: Watch a Youtube Video on How to Make Tassels and Practice! Seriously, if you have never made tassels before, don’t dig into your silk yet. Make tassels with cotton or wool yarn first.

My tassels are made with a 3″ wide Quilting Ruler, and my silk is wrapped around it 45 times. I do a simple loop knot twice.Once, I have three tassels, I tie the three tassels together. Drawl the yarn up through the bottom hole in the purse, tie knots to secure, and weave the yarn through my work (only on the inside, don’t weave it through, so that it shows on both sides of your work) and cut off the extra string.

Tassels and Cords: Cords can be twisted or braided. I braid my cords.  My cords are simply the strings that tie off the top of the tassel. They are 58 inches long and folded in half… so you will have six strings per group of tassels. I then knot all six strings together about 3/4 of an inch above the tassels, separate strings into two groups, and braid.  When the cords are made. I fold the purse and half and weave the cords from one tassel in and out of row 30… both in different directions, till they meet in the center. Then, I decide how long I want my cords to be, when my purse is fully opened, and sew the strings down to the inside of the purse. Repeat on the other side, so that you have a drawstring opening and closure.

A Look into the Historical Pattern

This is what was featured in Peterson’s Magazine, in 1861. Like most patterns of the time, accuracy wasn’t really a thing. If you look closely at this pattern, you will discover it isn’t actually mathematically correct. Ladies looked at the directions, pictures, and made something work.  Which, is exactly what I did. The pattern below, is my adaptation of the above pattern. What did I change?

  • I closed the bottom to the purse. This was a preference of mine. If you want an open bottom, go for it! If you keep the same number of stitches, as I have in each round, your purse will be the same shape and size.
  • I didn’t follow the bottom diagram. The bottom diagram shows 1dc in the chain one space, and a dc in each stitch next to the chain. I choose to do 3dc in each ch1 space. Why? Because, it creates a prettier hole. In fact, when I followed the directions, it didn’t give me a pretty gap at all.
  • I didn’t add as much frill to the top. 

Fun Pictures of the Finished Projects!

Enjoy the pattern! Please comment or email me with any questions, pattern notes, or success stories. For those who prefer it, I sell these purses ready made and custom made in my Etsy shop.

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6 comments

    • Jamiegoof
      Jamiegoof says:

      Hello Paige,
      I use about 22 grams of yarn, which would convert to 0.776 ounces. However, I recommend having about 25 grams (0.88 oz) just to be safe.

        • Jamiegoof
          Jamiegoof says:

          It is close, but size #10 is closer. If you want to use #20, I would would add more stitches to the width (the pattern requires four stitches for each repetition of the hole *ch1, 3dc*) and perhaps add a few more rows to make it a nice height too.

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