Sunday, April 21, 2013

Project Complete: Canvas Pilgrim Bag #2

A late medieval "pilgrim bag" for myself.

What it is:
For my pilgrim bag, I wanted to go with a more distinctive and essentially 15th century look, rather than the simpler style of my husband's bag. My bag is also smaller, but it's ideally sized to hold the items I normally carried around in a basket. It is entirely hand sewn with a hand-spun linen thread, and is made of a butter cream-colored, 12.5 oz hemp canvas, and lined with an off white linen with a stripe pattern in the weave.

How I made it:
In general terms of construction, the lining on my bag included an extra and slightly changed technique than the first bag, but I used the same types of stitches. My bag consists of 3 pieces and the strap, with linings on the interior of the bag and the back of the flap.

Since I wanted to use the Elizabethan seam again, I was able to add the lining and deal with the seam allowances at the same time. I wanted the bottom of the bag to have some double curve shaping, so I layered the front and back pieces (both the canvas and linen), folded them in half, and cut out a curve from the fold.

Then I quickly straight-stitched each of the panels, to attach the lining and canvas together, leaving a gap to turn in inside out. I clipped the corners and curves to get the best results when I turned it right-side out. I then stitched another run of straight-stitch around to secure the two layers. In this way, I already took care of the seam allowances, and could proceed with whip stitching the panels together.

The flap, which I also shaped, was completed the same way, except that I used an overcast stitch on the edge to finish it, rather than a running stitch.

After I put it together, I decided that the strap was just a little too long. I unstitched one end of the strap and shortened it also about 2". This corrected it perfectly.

What I think of it:
Once again, I'm jazzed to have another really nice, hand-made piece under my belt. I like the bag, and that I was able to introduce some stylization without too much thought. I think the butt curves are sexy. :) I questioned as I worked on it whether I wanted to just but my Evergreen award on it (and where to put it), but I like the statement it makes. I left the other curve free for a pewter badge I've got my eyes on. I'm reserving judgement on how well it works out for me until I get to actually take it to an event, but it fits my embroidery frame perfectly- just as intended.

You can see all the photos from this project in the Flickr set, or on Facebook!


  1. Long time lurker. Formerly of the Midrealm, then Atlantia, though I recently moved to the East. My baroness & I were recently talking about pilgrim's bags, as a way to use some stripey fabric in her stash, and I found your posts, as always, enjoyable and informative.

  2. A great post. I want to make a bag like these myself, as i see how practical it is. I see reenactors use these all the time, but I can't find any sources on these? At least not for the later 15th century. Do you have any link to these manuscipts? Best Regards.

    1. I used the period examples at ( for my source inspiration. I always wear mine now, and it has been extremely useful. I don't think I could go back to not using it now!