Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pouche Pompadour

We are just back from a living history event - a Refugee March!

We portrayed Southern civilians, forced to vacate our homes and traveling in the rear of the Confederate forces as the Union forces harass and attempt to prevent our movement. I was assigned the portrayal of an upper middle class lady, genteel, kind, patriotic but inclined to try buy special treatment.

Preparing to be a refugee has been keeping me busy, as I needed to assemble several items to aid my portrayal. One needed item was a traveling bag, I chose the "Pouche Pompador" from the December 1864 edition of Godey's.

It is described thus, "This elegant travelling-bag is especially suitable for a lady. It is made in the shape of a very large purse, and is of violet rep embroidered in white. These colors, may, of course, be changed according to taste. Two and a half yards of rep or other woolen material, twenty-seven inches in breadth, are required, and the same quantity of white calico for lining; two and a quarter yards of silk fringe, and five skeins of white embroidery silk for the trimming; two ivory rings and some pearl buttons. The pattern is not worked twice on the same side of the purse, but on one side at one end and on the opposite side at the other, so that both patterns may show when the bag hangs over the arm. The bag is entirely lined, a pocket is formed on each side, and a slit is made in the centre of the bag exactly in the same way as in a purse; two rings are slipped over, and the slit is further fastened by pearl buttons and silk loops. Each pocket is edged with silk fringe up to the slit in the middle. These pockets are very convenient to hold the numberless small articles which a lady always wishes to have by her during a journey. The embroidery is worked in satin stitch, the inner part of the pine pattern being filled up with colored silk. The material should be stretched over a frame in order to be worked neatly. The bag is very easy to make up, being, in fact, nothing but a purse of very large dimensions. The embroidery can be easily dispensed with, and a useful bag made of plain materials. One of the advantages that this bag possess over the ordinary kind is that it really has a graceful appearance when properly carried, which can scarcely be said of many travelling pouches."

For my version, I used a heavy grey wool, embroidered with purple chain stitch and black beads, accented as well with purple fringe. No pattern was given, so I used a dinner plate as a template for the bottom of the bag and drew out a miser bag shape. Brass bangle bracelets made lovely slide rings. I chose not to add buttons and loops and after carrying the bag for a number of miles, they really don't seem necessary.

The bag worked quite nicely, held quite a number of small items and I expect will be much used next summer.

I completed several other items for this event, including a hood and gourd canteens - details to follow!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous! I'm always so impressed with your work.

  2. Just lovely! I made one out of tapestry fabric and guessed on the size, used the brass rings from A. C. Moore (like your idea of bangle bracelets better). I also did not put the buttons on it. I cheated and put a wide woven embroidered ribbon diagonally on the bag with black fringe. I must take a picture of it one of these days. Had it with me at the last Rememberance Day parade in Gettysburg on a very cold November afternoon! It is a great piece, holds a lot... very comfortable
    F. K. Williams Miss Flora

  3. Wow, you did a beautiful job. Reading those instructions reminded me of trying to follow recipes of that time period.(whatever works:)
    How far did you have to travel for the event?