Hussif and Pursif: My Creative Journey

Lynn Majidimehr © 2006

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"During the Hussif/Pursif project I have received several inquires about the construction process. Lynn Majidimehr, one of the members of the "Hussies Too" group volunteered to write about her personal journey in making both the hussif and pursif. I think you will find her information helpful if you plan on making one in the future. Lynn and all of the "Hussies" including myself had a wonderful time sharing with each other the details and decisions of choosing fabrics and embellishments for our special keepsake. Thank you Lynn, for the opportunity to peek into your creative process."
Pat Winter

When I read the article that was done on the first group (October, 2004 issue of CQMagOnline) of hussifs and pursifs I thought that they were the most beautiful things that you could ever use for handwork! They were like nothing I'd ever seen before, so when I heard that the Hussies Too group was forming, I joined right away - I just had to make one too. Luckily, I had purchased gold / purple iridescent and a peachy cream dupioni fabric that I thought would work well together, and the other ladies told me where I could get Julie Craig's patterns.

Since I had decided to make both the hussif and pursif, both projects were in progress at the same time. This way, one could be worked on while I was thinking about the next step on the other, almost like working on two different CQ blocks at the same time. It was also another way that I could make sure that they would look like they belonged with each other. (To make it easier for you to follow my design progress, I've separated pictures of my steps as much as possible.)

My initial collection of fabric, ribbon, lace and thread all laid out, and ready to get started! Silk ribbon and lace that would coordinate were pulled out from my stash, as well as threads for the embroidery. 

Now it was time to get busy thinking about all the tools and other things that I wanted to be able to store and attach to my hussif, because I didn't want to spend months making it, and then find out that the pockets were too small. I got out my scissors, ruler, tatting shuttle, and all those fancy brass tools too. Initially, my tools had been attached to a chatelaine that would hang around my neck, but as soon as I tried it on, I found it to be way to heavy for my comfort, so I was never able to use them that way. Attaching them to my hussif works great, since they can rest on a table or my lap, instead of tugging at my neck. Once I knew what I was going to put in it, I could adapt the sizes of the pocket patterns to fit all these items. All the additional pockets to hold sewing supplies or a small project were made as large as possible to make it useful for as many types of work as possible.

Here is my initial layout for the hussif outside (top), hussif inside (center) and pursif pocket (bottom). You can see how some of the pockets were sized to hold certain tools. The lace pieces were leftover from a large CQ that I was working on, and although I really liked them, I didn't think that I would have enough. At the bottom you can see the pursif pocket already pieced with the ladies set in place. [The lady pictures were purchased online, but the site no longer exists.]

After looking at this layout for a while, and moving the lace pieces about, I still was not totally happy with all the different laces when put together. My previous projects had been multicolored, with all types of embellishments. I wanted this CQ project to have everything color coordinated, and I decided that if I dyed more lace I would be able to choose the style first, and then color them to work nicely with each other.

Once my lace pieces were dyed, pockets sized, and some embroidery threads chosen, I was ready to begin sewing. While I had considered completing the hussif inside and outside separately, then joining them, I ended up following the pattern instructions and making the hussif shell and pockets, then carefully hand sewing all the pockets in place. Even though I had to be more careful, and sew all the pockets on by hand, I was able to see exactly how it would look when it was finished, and could place the pockets closer to some of the edges. The lace pieces were then sewn to the pocket flaps, and finally, beads added for just a bit of sparkle. At this point, the cover embellishments were only pinned in place, and I was still considering a butterfly for the hussif cover.

Thimble holders were one of the larger group discussions that we all had. Initially, I didn't think I would make one, since I had never really used a thimble. However I decided that I should go ahead and make one and maybe someday I'd learn to use one. I was right, not too long afterward I finally found a thimble that I love to use, it's just different, the holes are on the side, and I think it is called a tailor's thimble. My thimble holder is really just a small design that was meant to be the cover for a sachet in one of my crochet books. By making a twisted cord with the crochet thread and weaving it through the mesh, it became a thimble holder that I tie to the center of the hussif.

Once all the pockets were made, and hand sewn to the hussif, I decided that even though I really wanted to use the butterfly on the cover, it wasn't working. Instead of fighting with it any longer, I re-designed it, and am very happy I did. The new cover design began with this picture that I printed from a Vintage Workshop design set and a large lace motif. I hand appliquéd the picture, and then hand tacked the lace over top. Once these were in place, I embroidered the frame around the picture. What was I going to put in the upper left corner? After much thought, I decided that a bow could be draped to balance the lace motif on the lower right. One stitch was taken into the fabric to attach the organdy ribbon, and then the bow was tied and tacked down with seed beads.

With the interior spread open, you can see all the pockets!

Close up of the left side: The large pocket is just the thing I needed to hold some silk ribbons, and since I didn't attach it along the right side, it holds small patterns, or other supplies. Another group discussion was on thread holders, there were many ideas being discussed, and I think Pat Winter was the one who used the word "ring". Finally I decided that I would make what I needed, and my wire working skills came in handy making the two thread holders. The long straight wire is attached with tiny clasps on both ends, so that spools of sewing thread can be kept accessible. The wire ring was made to hold my beading threads, and my crochet thimble holder is tied right where I can find it.

Close up of the right side: Below the bow little beaded cords with clasps hang for attaching sewing tools like scissors, a needle threader, needlecase, awl, and other small tools. Circles of fabric made a small pincushion to hold my tiny appliqué pins, and the pockets hold more tools and small supplies.

When the two sides are folded, you can see more pockets! The pockets on the left page are for scissors, needle packets and other supplies, while the pocket under the little girl (right page) has the opening on the right edge and is large enough to hold my needle book. [This picture was shared by Pat Winter, and I thought it worked well in this space.] The lace pieces were added once the pockets were made so that they could be fitted to the size of the finished flaps. And the lower pocket with flap was only attached on the sides and lower edge to yield another pocket behind it.

The outer cover of the hussif opened out to show the back (left) and front cover (right). On the back there are pockets for a pad of paper or a small notebook and a pen.

Needlecase Cover

The hussif pattern had a needlecase designed to be permanently attached, but I decided to make mine separate. I sewed rectangles of dupioni with batting just like I did with the hussif, but this time I stitched all the way around the edges, then cut a vertical slit in the center of the lining for turning, so that it would be enclosed and hidden when the pages were topstitched in place from the outside.

Here is the way the outer half of the hussif looks when it is opened out all the way.

Since I didn't want to have ribbons dangling when the hussif was open, I used gold filled wire and my newly acquired wire working skills to fashion a hook and heart shaped loop closure, accented with insect charms. My hussif is finished, and now I need to finish my pursif.

Getting back to the pursif, the first thing that needed to be done was piece the pocket (shown in a previous picture), and then appliqué the ladies in place. Since I wanted one of the ladies to be on top of the pocket side seam, I went ahead and stitched the seam, then continued working with the pocket in the round. Above is one side showing two of the ladies, lace and the beginning of some embroidered seam treatments. (Sometimes I add the leaves, vines, or other base stitches along my seams, even though I am not sure what flowers or other stitches will be added later to finish it.)

Close up of lady with embroidered frame, and flowers added to previous vine seam treatments.

Spider webs are a traditional CQ embellishment, so of course I had to have at least one on my pursif. The grape vine helps frame the spider web as well as the lady, and another berry vine covers a seam, and helps fill in some empty space.

On this side of the pocket, I decided to showcase the lace pieces, and here you can see the preliminary embroidery on the lacy seams, as well as the flower framing that was used around this lady (and no, I didn't know what I was going to do next).

After adding a row of tulips to this lacy seam, a bead and button collage was added to embellish the lady and fill in more open space. The lady on the left has a simple chain stitch frame, but there are many other ways to frame pictures.

Since I didn't want both of the lacy leaf seams to be the same, I decided to put some purple coneflowers on this side. I love to use beads for flower centers, and the tiny seed beads were just right, and they also worked as berries on my vine!

Here you can see how the two lacy leaf seams were different, but coordinate because they were done in similar colors.

Pursif back, after assembly.

Once all the seam treatments were finished, I assembled my pocket and purse as the instructions directed, inserting a loop for the closure, before binding the top of the pursif. The last thing that I did was to stitch the lace trim just below the binding, and add a fancy button to close the pursif.

Front of finished pursif.

Back of the pursif.

One side.

The other side of the pursif.

Well this was one great creative adventure! It was nice being part of a group where everyone was working on a similar project, yet customizing it to their individual needs. We were able to brain-storm ideas to solve each other's design problems, and still have our pursifs come out as individual as we are.

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