Reticule, a ditty bag by any other name

My second iteration of Eliza Leslie’s Travel Reticule. It reminds me very much of something we made back in girl Scouts 45 years ago, basically a ditty bag with pockets inside.

From Eliza Leslie’s. The House Book: Or, A Manual of Domestic Economy, Carey & Hart, 1840. “A Traveling Reticule. A reticule for travelling may be so made as to contain many useful articles. Get for instance three quarters of a yard of the thickest and best dark coloured India silk such as is called sensha. Divide it into two pieces about a quarter and a half quarter in each but the outer piece a little deeper than the inner. Then lay them together so as to be double and divide them into four compartments by making three downward rows of stitching or running when you have sewed up the side edges of the bag you will have four divisions. Leave sufficient at the top of the inner lining for a hem and the outside must rise a little beyond the inside and be hemmed down so as to form a case to be drawn with ribbons or broad silk braid. Gather the bottom of the bag and draw it up as close as possible so as to finish it with a tassel or a bow of ribbon at the gathering place This bag will be found very useful in travelling as in the different divisions you may carry a comb hair brush, tooth brush, smelling bottle, a cake of soap, purse, needle, book, keys etc so arranged as not to interfere with each other inconveniently leaving the space in the middle of the bag for your handkerchief which you can then take out without any danger of its bringing other things along with it. These large reticules will be found less troublesome to carry and better in every respect than a travelling hand basket.”

Fabric: I started with the two pieces of fabric as suggested, and eventually realized, that if you are using the same fabric, then you can get away with one LONG piece and just fold it up (as with a rolled organizer.) I also made an assumption that it could be turned inside out and hung up for retrievability, so the inside should be lined,

I ended up using the number 3 as my base: pockets were 9″ and 12″, width was 18″ (19″ with seam allowance) before sewing the ends together, length was 21″ long before all the gathering and hemming. It ended up being about 18″ with be enough swag to hang over an arm for carrying. I assumed one would have other things in each hand while trying to juggle toiletries and open the bathroom door.

If 4 pockets is nice, then 8 are better, so I added another layer of shorter pockets for things like soap. I used a hair brush and a soap container for sizing the pockets…I hate pockets where things just fall out, and we also needed to fit in a linen hand towel. Constant use of the pockets would require sturdy construction, so I added the ribbon/tape as to the stitching, and instead of bias tape, I added cording to the edges. I have handled a lot of things made of worn moire fabric with twine peaking out of the reinforcements. I used paracord, it’s soft and slippery.

Decoration: As this was supposed to be functional, and slip in and out of a carpet bag when a lady wants to retrieve her personal items. My impression was limited exterior decoration, although I would add flat ribbon, applique or embroidery if a plain fabric is used. French seams are used so that the inside looks presentable, although next time I will try twill tape or flat felling to reduce the bulk.

The bottom is supposed to be gathered tightly, which is what I can’t manage to figure out. Every fabric I have tried will not gather down tightly enough to avoid leaving a gap. So do I have to gather the gathers? Should have used a draw string and then sewn up the gap? I will have to keep trying.

I have plenty of this pink and brown polyester curtain fabric to make dozens of bags, though I am only on planning to make a second one out of it once I have figured out how to close the bottom. And I will actually write the pattern up…once I learn how to write a pattern up…

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