Miser's Purse

Barbara Blankenship 2004

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I once read that a work of art always lives, enhanced by each generation. This statement is certainly true with the "miser's purse." What started as a small 2" leather pouch evolved into an elaborate fashion accessory.

This tiny purse dates back to Europe in the mid 1800's. Carried by the well-to-do gentleman, it held coins to dispense to the needy. Because men controlled the purse strings, it was not until much later that the women began using them. They changed from a utilitarian item to a fashion statement and were carried as a status symbol. Using their finest threads and stitches, these Victorian women created an exquisite treasure for future generations.

I have made these tiny versions of the miser's purse to add to my crazy quilting projects. They can be quickly made and add a distinctive touch of elegance to any block. I think they would also make wonderful gift items. They could hold a small piece of jewelry, be added to a bow for any package decoration, used on handmade greeting cards, as a brooch or necklace, etc. I also think they would make a wonderful centerpiece for the holiday season. A small Christmas tree adorned with these tiny purses would add a Victorian touch to our homes.

Supplies Needed:

5" length of 1 - 2" wide floral jacquard or fancy ribbon
Thread to match
One snap
Small button or bead for closure
Beading thread


Step 1 Step 1 Fold under " seam allowance on each of the two ends of ribbon and press.
Step 2 Step 2 Fold the two upper corners in to make a point. Press and blind stitch into place


Step 3 Step 3 Fold bottom edge of ribbon up 1 " and pin into place. Blind stitch the two sides forming a pocket. (A beaded picot edging is a great way to stitch the two sides. See directions below.)
Step 4 Place one part of the snap on the point of the flap. Place the second part approximately 5/8" from bottom fold. You want the fold of the flap to align with the beginning of the pocket.


  Step 5 String beads to form a handle attaching at each side of the pocket. Hide the knot inside the " fold.
  Step 6 Beaded fringe can be added to the bottom of the purse. If I am attaching this to a crazy quilt block I bead the handle and the fringe after attaching the purse, going through the fabric and the purse to secure the beads.
3 different types Purse on the left is made of antique ribbon with beaded handle and picot edging. Purse in upper center shows size in relation to a quarter. Lower right purse shows solid color ribbon with silk ribbon embroidery
Miser's purse on CQ Block Example of the small miser's purse placed on a crazy quilt block.  

Beaded Picot Edging:

Beginning at the top edge of one open side, secure your beading thread between the two layers of fabric.
Step 1 - String 3 beads. Determine the distance of one bead from where your needle was inserted.
Step 2 - Working very closely to the edge of the ribbon, insert the needle from back to front.
Step 3 - Without piercing the ribbon, insert your needle from front to back of the last bead strung and string 2 more beads. Repeat step one and two, stringing 2 beads, until you reach the end of that side. Secure your thread and cut. Repeat the above for the remaining side of your pouch

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