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14C-DS-Pouch-art - 8/19/17


"Fourteenth Century Drawstring Pouch" by Master Crispin Sexi. How to tie a turks head knot.


NOTE: See also the files: bags-baskets-msg, pouches-msg, p-backpacks-msg, Pilgrims-Trvl-art, leather-msg, lea-tanning-msg, Market-Wallet-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



First published in The Cockatrice, the A&S newsletter of the Kingdom of Lochac. November AS 49.


Fourteenth Century Drawstring Pouch

by Master Crispin Sexi


Before clothing with integral pockets, pouches were a handy way to carry small amounts of goods, such as money and keys. Here are some pictures of medieval people with drawstring pouches:



Luttrell Psalter 1325-1335   A tomb-effigy at Oissery          Detail from The Annunciation by (Backhouse, p 41)                 Church, c. 1350 (Adhemar)          Antoniazzo Romano, 1485


These three examples show pouches made of leather or fabric, with two drawstrings and a strap to suspend the pouch from a belt. These types of pouches are closed by pulling on the drawstrings and opened by gripping the top two corners and pulling them apart. Often there are decorations attached to the bottom corners or edges of the pouch. Based on pictures and extant examples it appears that the size of drawstring pouches varies from about 10 to 20 cm. Here are two extant drawstring pouches from museums:



Leather pouch with drawstrings (Egan)        Leather pouch, showing a strip that may have

                                                                     been a Turk's head knot. (Historiska museet)


The above examples have eight slits for the straps to pass through, plus two additional holes for securing the handle, and a row of stitching holes down either side. They are roughly square-ish, made from a rectangular piece of leather folded in half.


To make a leather drawstring pouch of this style, you will need:




Garment-weight leather rectangle approximately 15cm x 30cm,

2 leather drawstrings 12mm x 44cm,
1 leather handle strap 15mm x 40cm,
2 x turks head knots,

Linen thread to match the leather.




1) Fold the rectangle to make a 15x15 cm square, flesh side in.




2 Chisels 1cm, 1.5cm,

Cutting board,


Needle and thimble.





1) Fold the rectangle to make a 15x15 cm square, flesh side in.


2) Lay the square on a cutting board with the fold closest to you.


3) Use the wider chisle and hammer to make 8 evenly spaced parallel cuts along the top edge.


4) Use the narrower chisle to make two cuts in the top corners.


5) Use the smaller chisle to make holes near both ends of the handle.


6) Insert the two ends of the handle inside the pouch to line up with the two corner holes.



7) Take a drawstring and thread one ends through all three layers of a corner hole, pulling half the length through.


8) Take the other end of the drawstring over the top of the pouch and thread it through the same hole from the other side, pulling tight.



9) Repeat the last two steps for the other drawstring on the other corner. The handle is now securely held in place.


10) Take the end of a drawstring at the front of the pouch and thread it in and out of the eight parallel cuts, only through the front layer of the pouch.


11) Repeat behind with the other end of the drawstring.


12) Repeat the above two steps with the other drawstring, going the other direction.



13) Sew the Turk's head knots (or tassles) to the bottom corners of the pouch.


14) Sew the side edges of the pouch together using whip stitch.


15) Finish off by tying up the loose ends of the drawstrings



Decorative Options


For leather pouches, attach Turk's head knots in the lower corners (see below). Bells could also be used in the place of the Turk's head knots, a measure that could deter cut-purses.


For a cloth pouch, edge the raw opening of the pouch with a piece of tablet woven braid and use three tassles or buttons instead of Turk's head knots. The third tassle gets attached to the centre bottom on the pouch. It will also help to use button-hole stitch on the drawstring holes.


If you are feeling adventurous, there are also more complicated versions of this pouch with additional smaller pouches attached to the sides or to the ends of the drawstrings.


Turk's Head Knots


These are made by weaving a strip of leather around itself a few times and pulling tight to make a bead. See the diagram to the right for steps to make a small Turk's head knot over your finger. After step 5, slip the knot off your finger, work it into a tight ball and snip 2) off the loose ends.


It is also possible to make a leather tassle by folding over some short 3) strips of leather and tightening a Turk's head knot over the fold. Similar effects can be found on period girdlebooks, so it would not be too far fetched to use leather tassles on pouches.




This pouch design is very economical of fabric and quick to make. It also solves the problem that single drawstring pouches have of being hard to open when hanging from your belt. Such pouches also look fetching; I have found myself admiring one hanging from someone's belt, before suddenly realising that they made it in a class taught by myself!



Adhemar, Jean, Gazette des beaux-arts. Vol 84. Paris: Gazette des beaux-arts, 1974.

Found at http://www.effigiesandbrasses.com/monuments/unknown_barres/image/2153/original/ Accessed May 2012.


Backhouse, Janet, Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter, The Brittish Library, London, 2000.


Egan, Geoff and Pritchard, Frances, Dress Accessories - 1150-1450, Museum of London, 2002.


Fischer, Doris, Mittelalter Selbst Erleben!, Konrad Theiss, Stuttgart, 2010.


Historiska museet website


Accessed May 2012.


Medieval & Renaissance Material Culture website


Accessed May 2012.


Copyright 2015 by Jaysen Ollerenshaw. <crispin at homemail.com.au>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org