Chantilly Lace and a Pretty Face

Lynn Schoeffler © 2008

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You may remember that last issue I was having fun painting Chantilly lace with Jacquard’s Lumiere fabric paints.

In this issue, I put my efforts to use by “re-purposing” this little purse purchased in a thrift store for a few dollars. It’s possible that this plain little piece started off life as a bride’s maid accessory, but now I think it’s ready for an evening at the theatre—don’t you?

When you’re out browsing the re-sale shops and thrift stores, look for these items that can be de-constructed, embellished and put back together again. This purse was a good choice because the closure snap was positioned on the underneath side of the front flap, ensuring that the flap could be pried apart.

Begin the dismantling process by carefully inserting a letter opener or small, flat screwdriver between the layers of the flap, to gently pry them apart. As you can see in the photo, there was a slight fraying of the fabric at the edge of the flap near the point. I treated it with a little fray-check product and decided that the fabric would still re-cover the edge. Peel the fabric layer away from the cardboard form.

When determining the design for the purse, keep in mind that lots of stitching will shrink the purse fabric; for that reason, I didn’t choose a traditional CQ method. Most of the embellishment here is couched on, with a few simple embroidery stitches for emphasis. Since I could not detach the flap of the purse from the body, easily worked embellishment was key.

For a crazy quilted look, you could work a piece on muslin cut to size, leaving a quarter inch border. Turn the border under and appliqué the crazy quilted piece in place on the surface fabric of the purse, using fabrics with less body like silk and light cottons. Border the embroidery with a narrow trim.

Choosing silk organza for the ribbon back ground for the photo solved several issues: I wanted a very light weight ribbon that would gently curve across the face of the purse, and I knew that I would need to tuck it between the layers of the flap for a neat finish. Also, I needed a width that wasn’t easily available. For the lovely vintage look, I began distressing the organza by wetting it, and crushing it in my hand. I set the crushing by using a very hot iron; the initial trial with the iron on the silk setting didn’t hold the wrinkles as well. For even more texture, I rolled and twisted the length, and set it again with the hot iron. In photo three, I pinned the ribbon to the face of the purse in the curved pattern, and appliquéd it on.

The embellishment was finished with my painted lace couched onto either side of the silky; nestled into the silk ribbon flowers of her hat is a tiny scrap of gold painted lace. The three small gold buttons traveling up the right side of the flap are vintage cloth doll buttons that were sadly discolored—they were also painted with an old brass color.

To finish the purse, I added a layer of thin, woven interfacing on to the wrong side of the flap fabric, sealing in the knots from the embellishing, and providing a smooth surface for the glue. Using fabric glue such as Fabri-Tac, glue the purse fabric back onto the cardboard lining, stretching the fabric as you go. Wrap the edge of the fabric over the cardboard. I used a strong T-pin inserted into the fabric, tugging gently to help get the fabric completely stretched, and lying as smoothly as possible against the cardboard. Bring the ends of any trailing embellishment over the edge of the cardboard and glue. Pin completely around the edge of the cardboard with T-pins, and let dry overnight.

After the glue is dry, remove all the pins. With a strong craft glue like E6000, glue all the layers of the flap together, paying particular attention to the edges, and making sure that the top layer meets the bottom layer of the flap—I needed to lay the purse flat, and gently pull the layers together. Use a piece of muslin folded along the edge of the flap to protect the fabric; clamp edges, and let dry. The tiny clamps in the photos worked better than the clothes pins—request some on your husband’s next trip to the hardware!

Line the edge of the flap with a coordinating trim; I used glue for a tight bond, and to further seal the edge of the flap. Tuck the ends of the trim at the back of the flap between the layers by prying them open just slightly. Re-glue if necessary.

And finally, when the tassel I had in my stash was too brightly colored to match, I painted that too! Mostly water with a dab of the old brass color made the tassel a little stiffer, but not enough to worry about.

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