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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reticule - Purse of Early America


“Oh! I forgot the reticule that Susannah made me. I must have left it on the chest of drawers.”
“Stay here. I shall go find it.” Dan raced back inside and took the steps at a faster-than-usual pace.
Opening the guest room door, Dan scanned the room for the small drawstring purse that Susannah had made for his sister. Smiling, he picked up the silk piece and sniffed it.
The lovely scent of Susannah.

                            From “Legacy of Deer Run,” releasing December 2016

In the 17th and 18 centuries, the word “reticule” was as commonly known as “purse” or “handbag is today. It was simply a small bag tied with a drawstring and attached to a lady’s wrist and was used to carry small personal items like money or a comb. It might be made of silk or brocade, netting material or velvet. It could even be knitted. The only common thread to the reticule was that it was small so as not to inconvenience a lady, say, on a dance floor.

I recently worked on a photo shoot for the cover of Legacy of Deer Run, releasing in December. The lead character in the novel, Susannah Dobbins, always carries a reticule in public, so it seemed appropriate to provide one for the model portraying Susannah. Not owning a reticule myself, I decided to create one.

It was quite easy to make, much to my relief! I attempted to match the colors of the dress and Pashmina shawl rented from the costumer at Living History Farms. I choose a lovely silk-like material with a pattern in purple and brown, along with brown cording for the drawstring.

A pattern online provided a rough idea of the shape to re-create. Then I hand sewed the material together, something that would have been done in 1800. Since we just needed it for a photo shoot, I did not line the bag although it is recommended for regular use. However, it was still strong enough to hold the model’s I Phone and car keys, items you would NOT find in 1800!

The finished result added a sweet detail to the costume that, while not necessary, provided extra color and flavor of the time period. I think Jane Austen might be proud.

Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Road to Deer Run and Promise of Deer Run (releasing June, 2016). Legacy of Deer Run releases in December. Cooper is also the author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany's Calendar. Saratoga Letters releases in October 2016. You can visit her website here

12 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Pegg. It was easier than I thought, much to my relief! :)

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  2. Elaine, your reticule is very pretty.
    Loving the Deer Run Saga!
    Blessings,Tina

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Tina. "Legacy" will be out before you know it. :)

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  3. Replies
    1. Since I am a lover of purple, I was thrilled that color would match the flowers on her dress!

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  4. Love this article, Elaine! The fabric you chose is gorgeous!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cynthia. The color and pattern drew me right to it! And the material was far easier to hand sew than I imagined it would be.

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