16th-Century Sweete Bag – Start to Finish

Some time ago, I hinted at a surprise gift I was embroidering for a friend. Two months later, the mailman has done his job and it has finally reached its home overseas. Now I can show off the details to you all.

I made a crewelwork sweete bag, based on an extant original in the National Trust Collection (formerly British Library). The embroidery pattern came from the 16th-Century German Costuming blog. Here Amie provides some very lovely patterns, taken from 16th-c. purses and pincushions.

Sweete Bag, late 16th century (British Library c194c27).

Below I have put together some start-to-finish photos of the embroidery process. Since my yarn stash was overflowing, I worked the pattern in cotton floss and faux gold thread, instead of the period-correct crewel wool. The bag was my entry for the HSM 2017 “Go Wild” challenge as well. So I have put all the key facts into the challenge info at the end of this post.

The pattern outline. Gold vines worked in stem stitch.

Some leaves in satin stitch, worked over a stem stitch outline.

The first flower. I used seed stitch in the center. The big petals are done in satin stitch. All the pale yellow bits are stem stitched.

Grapes! Chain stitch outlines with satin stitch centers.

Another flower done. It is mostly regular satin stitch, with a row of long and short stitches towards the center.

The two shaded flowers are both worked in long and short stitch. The brown border at the bottom is chain stitched.

And we have a parrot. It is a mix of dense satin stitch and long and short stitch over a backstitch outline.

And done! Next I took it out of the hoop and stretched the wet fabric over some cardboard. Then all I had to do was sew it into a little drawstring bag. For the string and tassels I used no. 8 cotton purl yarn.

The finished sweete bag. *happy dance*

My friend and I are both very, very happy about the result. It has been my first big embroidery project in a long while. And now I am itching to start another… ;)

To finish off, here are the challenge facts with all the details:

The Challenge: “HSM #12 – Go Wild!”

How does the item fit the challenge?Wild and exotic animals were often featured in embroidery designs from this period. Parrots, like the one here, were especially popular. Plus, I have really “gone wild” with the embroidery on this project. Oof! ;)

Material: A 12″ x 6″ piece of linen, a scrap of cotton percale for lining.

Patterns: 16th-century purse pattern from “Patterns of Fashion 4”.

Embroidery pattern by Amie Sparrow from here.

Year: c. 1550-1610

Notions: Various yardages of cotton embroidery floss and faux gold thread; poly-cotton thread for sewing, no. 8 purl cotton for the drawstring.

How historically accurate is it? About 80%. The crewel embroidery stitches and sewing techniques are documented for this time but many of the materials I used are modern, except for the linen.

Hours to complete: About 120 hours for the embroidery and two for the sewing.

Total cost: Most materials came from my stash. So, about €7 at this time, for some extra embroidery floss.



8 thoughts on “16th-Century Sweete Bag – Start to Finish

  1. Wolfregen & Constanze says:

    Das sieht ja wunderschön aus, liebe Nessa. In ähnlicher Form habe ich zuletzt als Jugendliche solcherlei Stickarbeiten hergestellt und vielleicht sollte ich das auch mal wieder anfangen, obwohl jede Menge Arbeit darin steckt. Aber es lohnt sich, wenn man danach so ein hübsches Ergebnis in Händen hält!

    Herzliche Grüße
    von Constanze

    • Nessa says:

      Vielen, lieben Dank, Constanze! Als Jugendliche konnte ich noch nicht so gut sticken, aber jetzt habe auch ich sehr viel Freude daran, trotz dem großen Aufwand. Wenn Du wieder mal die Muße und Inspiration findest, um etwas Schönes zu sticken, würde ich mich freuen, es zu sehen. Schöne Stickereien kann man einfach stundenlang betrachten. Sie bringen einen immer wieder ins Schwärmen.

      Liebe Grüße


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s