Monday, September 3, 2012

Ring Pouches

Decided to try something new....

Anglo-Saxon/Medieval ring-pouch!

Sometimes known as 'pickpocket pouches' because it's easy to steal out of them. I'd like to point out here that evidence for these pouches suggest they were used to carry everyday items like combs and fire-strikers and such. People wouldn't have carried valuables like money in them, and I can't advise anyone to carry their wallet in one either!

Outer pouch made with left-over wool scraps from my stash; striped light-weight wool tabby. The lining is pale grey linen. Due to the sizes of the scraps the outer layer is made from two separate 30cm x 30cm pieces, the linen is a single 30cm x 60 cm piece folded over.

This piece was for largesse so I went with the lighter coloured linen as all medieval depictions of these pouches have white/pale lining. I'm not sure about Anglo-Saxon versions of this type of pouch. As far as I know, we've only found the rings with possible fragments of the pouches.

The most important measurement for these pouches is the CIRCUMFERENCE of the ring (not the diameter). The fabric of the pouch needs to be at least wide enough to fit all the way around the ring. So measure the circumference of the ring, divide by two (front and back) and add a couple cm or inches PLUS seam allowance!

I didn't bother with a progress picture of the first step (sewing the pouch together) since it's just a basic back-stitch seam, for both pieces (sewn separately). The pins around the side seams in the picture are there because I'd considered 'finishing' the seams to make them lie flat, but after pinning in the ring and looking at it, decided ultimately that they didn't need to be.

The raw edges at the top were folded in between the layers and the entire top was folded around the ring. Another option for these pouches is to sew the top shut and whip-stitch the ring to the top edge, leaving it visible. Which is a better idea for good looking rings, and not a 4" steel ring from the leather-working department of Michael's! :)

I found it easier to pin half the circle onto the ring and sew it, before scrunching up the sewn part and sewing the rest. The thread I used was a pale purple wool, since the stripes meant nothing else I chose would be invisible all around.

The leather strap (and they all seem to have leather straps, not cloth-though I could be wrong about that) was sewn on over the outside of the cloth, both above and below the ring. If you're whip-stitching the pouch to the edge of the ring, you could sew on the strap first.

I put the sewing holes in the leather with an awl first, as it's heavy leather and had to be sewn through two layers of leather and three layers each of the wool and linen, below the ring.

And there you are! Depending on how fast you sew, this should probably take you a few hours total!

Later Medieval versions of these pouches often had the ring sewn in further down the body of the pouch, and put a drawstring through the top edge to close the pouch. If you want to be able to carry your wallet in the pouch, I recommend doing that. However, the drawstring version is not, as far as I'm aware, period for Early medieval Anglo-Saxon.

Another Medieval variant is to make the pouch out of a large circle of cloth, or possibly to round the corners of the pouch. The square ones sometimes had tassels on the bottom corners.

There's another style of these pouches I also hope to try in the near future, that was specifically used for money. It involved a ring too small for a hand (even a child's!) to fit through, sewn to a long, narrow pouch too long for fingers to reach the bottom of. Coins and other small bits of 'currency' would be out of reach, but easily accessible to the owner by pouring out the pouch.

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