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The Mighty Pumpkin
The Mighty Pumpkin
A Beadwrangler Project

As you probably now by now, I love purses! Some years back I saw a pattern for a large soft pumpkin pouch in Holiday Crafts Magazine and thought someday I will make something like that. A couple of years later I pulled out the photo image of the pouch and drew up my own version and pattern for a smaller bag and a little different shape. This is what I like about magazines and books, they give you wonderful ideas to start from. When you get an idea from another artist's work or magazine article, even if you make up a whole new design, please give the source credit. My book, Medicine Pouch Jewelry, A Contemporary Interpretation of the Traditional Medicine Pouch will be your guide.

The Mighty Pumpkin Purse is very soft and plops down real squishy when you set it on a flat surface like a table. The strap is long enough to wear on your wrist and it is large enough to carry more than just your lipstick and keys. My Mighty Pumpkin has an owl, symbol of the Storyteller and a horny toad and Native American symbolic figure beads, reflective of my many years living in the Southwest. I keep my favorite jewelry in this bag and carry it in my larger purse. My purse is made of pigskin and is so soft, it makes me feel good to touch it. If you make a purse of ultrasuede, it will be a little stiffer but look unique also. You may want to make one of each and compare them for preference.

Here are the supplies you will need.

  • Silamide A or equivalent thread; you can use beading thread size D with size 8 seed beads
  • Sharps needles size 10 or 11 for size 8 seed beads and 11 or 12 for size 11 seed beads, or quilting between needle equivalents
  • Seed beads size 8 or 11s. The size 8s makes up faster.
  • 2 size 12 or 14mm beads with holes large enough for the cord to go through doubled and have space to move up and down the cord. I used raku ceramic beads, you choose the bead material.
  • 20" of thin round cord, approximately 1/8" thickness, you can purchase at fabric stores
  • Leather or ultrasuede, 4 pieces, each, 5 3/4"L x 3 1/2" W. You can either sew 4 pieces together from pattern A or cut the 4 pieces in half and sew 8 pieces together as in pattern B. The purse I made is 8 pieces sewn together. You can get ultrasuede from fabric and stitching specialty shops. You can get leather from Tandy's Leather Company or other leather companies that sell scrap leather. You want thin leathers such as pigskin or brain tanned leather that is easy to put your needle through.
  • More leather or ultrasuede, 1 long strip 2" W x approximately 9" L for the top of the purse where cord will go through.
  • The Fun Stuff! charms, beads, tie tacks to embellish the purse.

Now look at the patterns and let's get started!

To begin cut out the leather/ultrasuede pieces, 4 if you are using pattern A, 8 if you are using pattern B plus the strip for the top of the purse. The top of the purse pattern A measures 2 1/2" wide, and about 5" in length. If you look at pattern B, it is approximately 1 3/4" at its widest point. You can download the pattern for exact measurements. If you are using a screen resolution of 800 x 600, the patterns shown here should be actual size. If you are using a screen resolution of 1024 x 768, the patterns are about 80% of actual size.

I used black pigskin leather and black matte size 8 seed beads for my Mighty Pumpkin.

Pattern A                        Pattern B
Pattern A Pattern B
Thread your needle with Silamide thread, about 80", double it so you will have 40" in length and make a knot on the end. Use a bic lighter to make a bead on the end of the thread or clear nail polish to keep the threads from coming loose. Parents should be in charge of the bic lighter. Then go to Medicine Pouch Jewelry, beginning on page 9, Part II, Attaching the Pouch Sides Together to make the edging stitch with beads. Instructions are included for right-hand as well as left-handed people. Part III on page 13 illustrates Adding Thread During The Edging Process.
Bead edge stitch each piece together and make sure you have the right-sides all facing one side. Leave off beads 1/2" to 1/8" from the top edge of the purse opening. This is the area where the purse opening will be attached to the strip. When you have all the pieces edged stitched with beads, your purse should be sewn together in a circle at the top and the bottom of the purse. The bottom of the purse should have all the bead edges meeting in a point. Stitch through these beads another time to make sure the bottom is secure and tie off. Tying off is also included in my book.

Illustration #1 Now take the 2" wide strip and line it up with the top of the purse opening, right sides together. The strip is longer than the circumference of the purse opening. The place where the strip comes together is where the opening will be for the cord. Leave an equal amount of the strip on each end past the purse portion. Turn the strip down so you are looking at the wrong side of the strip and the right side of the strip is facing the right side of the purse, put the very edge of the strip next to the purse edge. Use pins to hold down the piece while you sew. Leave an equal amount of leftover strip on each end. You will be stitching where the bead bead edging ends and there is only stitched thread at the top of the purse. See the illustration. Silk pins are less harsh than straight pins on soft leather. Silk pins are also good on ultrasuede. You can also just hold the piece as you sew, as long as you do not pull in the extra portion of the strip on the ends. Do not pull the leather so it hard that it stretches.

Take your needle and thread and begin at one end whip stitching or making tiny quilting type stitches until you are at the end and have joined the two pieces from the inside and tie off. Add new thread and turn the strip over and fit the outside edge next to where you just sewed the pieces together. Now stitch this side down. You do not have to turn the leather/ultrasuede under or overlap it. Just stitch it right down. You can sew the piece together on a sewing machine, I happen to like the fact that my purse is all handmade even if it does take longer.

Illustration #2

At each end where the strip meets, do tuck under the leather around the edges and then stitch down at the bottom where the purse and strip edge come together. Do not sew these two ends together; this is where the cord will go through. Finish and tie off. See the illustration.




Illustration #3Now take a cord and attach a safety pin to it. Push it through the opening of the strip on the purse to the other end and back out. Now pull the cord together so the purse closes. Take your hand through the cord opening and see how much space you need for it plus about 4" for the bead closure. When I close my purse tight, there is approximately 4" of cord before the bead closure, however, I have a skinny wrist, the only thing skinny on me I fiberjest you not!



Illustration #4

Purse closure: String on one large 12 or 14mm bead through both cords. Then make a knot at the top of the big bead. Make sure you have measured the length you need for your wrist before doing this. Then string on the second large 12 or 14mm bead and make another knot. Now take Silamide thread and stitch the top knot closed. You can also embellish the knot with beads or stitchery. Now pull the bead below the knot next to the purse opening to close it and pull it back up next to the knot to open it. See the illustration. Nifty eh? this is an idea I found from the 1880s through the 1940s while cataloging purses.

Now you can embellish the outside with beads and charms. Remember, part of the beauty of the purse is the fiber, don't bugger it up so much with embellishment that you no longer recognize the purse you created. I put my Native American form beads on one of the quadrants, skipped some quadrants and then put on my owl and finally stuck my horny toad tie tack at the top near the opening.

You now have a Mighty Pumpkin Purse! Enjoy! I would love to see photo images of your creations. We will put them up on our website and share with viewers. This is a project you can do with your children. Get the boys to make a pouch to keep arrowheads and marbles. They can use a leather strip for the strap if they find the cord too feminine. You could make this purse with more sections and lengthen the 2" strip; experiment and come up with new ideas. You could also put on a longer cord and wear the purse on on your shoulder. It is a little too large to wear as purse necklace.

I have carried this purse around in my larger purses for over a year, it has gotten lots of wear, and yet none of the stitches have come out. I used Silamide size A thread and can always depend on its strength.

What's next for the Stitchery Circle? How about a doll shape, an 1880s mini purse or shapes for embellishment to other items? Email me and let me know what you find most exciting.

When you make copies of these instructions to share with your friends, please tell them you got them at Beadwrangler's.

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