Monday, September 10, 2012

Material Substitution & Free Pattern

1955 Beaded Cocktail Hat & Bag #928

I've been receiving quite a few questions lately about the yarns & other materials listed in my vintage patterns.

Needless to say, vintage patterns are wonderful for those of us with great imaginations!  However, the measurements of finished projects are frequently missing, & I consider it a blessing, if the pattern even includes a stitch tension gauge!  The photos of the project really come in handy to give the crafter a guesstimate of what the final project should resemble.

When it comes to the use of vintage materials, which are no longer available, such as Ribbonette or Gimp...well, this is where we have to start being creative.

In the substitution of Ribbonette, which I liken to a sturdy ribbon, I use heavy weight ribbon in combination with another yarn to give my work more substance.

Many vintage hat & bag patterns list Gimp as a material.   Gimp seems to be similar to a light weight cord/string.  In the place of Gimp, I often use J&P Coats® Royale® Fashion Crochet #3 - a heavyweight 3 ply cotton thread yarn.  [It comes in 16 colors.]  Try working this thread with multiple strands to achieve a good substitution for the Gimp.  For an elegant evening hat & bag, combine with a metallic yarn for extra glimmer & shine.

You can find all your favorite Coats crochet threads online at

In my private circle, I am known for haunting home improvement stores [Home Depot is my favorite!] for materials, which I can use in my projects.  It is amazing to find the varieties & colors of strings & cords available at reasonable costs.

Don't forget to check out the Electrical Department for small, flexible wire in terrific colors.  The wire is a good alternative to the plastic that is sometimes shown in some bag patterns, & I think that the addition of the little wire will give the handbag more strength.

Many bags require rings for drawstrings or handles.  Try the Hardware Department for your plastic or metal substitutions.  Not only will you find a greater variety in size & material to choose from [than in your local craft shop], but you'll be saving a lot of money...which you can use for more patterns & projects!

I frequently use multiple strands of J&P Coats® Royale® Fashion Crochet #3 [or any variety of flexible string or cord that suits my fancy] in combination with worsted to make an attractive fabric, which will wear well.

My best suggestion for those starting out any new project is to create small sample squares in different materials to judge the texture & weight.  Remember, if you are making a handbag, it is going to require more substance than a sweater!  I know this sounds funny, but you'd be surprised at what some crafters have used for handbags...then they wonder why their purse won't hold anything!

As for myself, I often start out with a vintage pattern, following each step faithfully, then before I know it...I've "winged off" of my own creative path.  My final projects outcomes usually end up being "Originals by Miss Julia" creations, with little to show for the Vintage Pattern they once were kin to.

If you like the Vintage 1955 Beaded Cocktail Hat & Bag Purse 928 shown above, you can find the PDF pattern at

When reading those vintage patterns for bags, most often the finishing instructions seem to be omitted.  Here are my own notes for finishing a purse.  I hope you find them useful.

Make paper patt for each crocheted piece before joinings & lay aside to be used later.

Cut lining according to paper patts & sew tog.

Shirr lining bag form to correspond with crocheted bag.

Insert finished lining in bag.

Sew in zipper [if desired].


Holiday Christmas Wreath [crochet]
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