Lillas class in New Zealand
sketch of gypsy purse pattern
stitching patterns for velvet flowers
tray of velvet blooms
I love the look of velvet flowers and leaves in my work, but rarely find them. So being a 'make-do' type of artist I set about designing my own.
Over the years I have refined my patterns to make them simple enough for anyone to learn. Recently I taught a class in New Zealand and the favourite technique by far, was my velvet blooms.

I do stress the importance of good quality velvet, hand dyed if possible. I like a silk/rayon blend.
If it is very floppy, iron some fine silky lining onto the back before cutting the patterns out.
After stitching the flowers I usually paint on some extra shading with silk dyes.
Make the templates on cardboard, and use to draw the pattern on the back of the velvet, cut neatly and sew the stitching patterns shown. Use doubled thread and pull up tightly. The resulting flowers can be retrimmed or adjusted to suit yourself.
The centers are either beaded with a few seed beads, or larger flowers can have stamen added through a small hole in the middle.

#1 Flowers,   stitch with a small running stitch in a  circle. Pull tight and sew a seed bead to center.

#2 Larger flower,  sew the pattern as shown, make a small hole in center and thread 3 stamen folded in half, stitch to secure.

#3 To make a 4 petal flower or a Violet. Cut a square of velvet, about 2". Trim off the corners. Sew from the back up through the center, wrap the thread around behind, see template.
Pull very tightly. The petals will roll to the back in this case. Repeat for all 4 sides. Takes a bit of practice. Bead center.

#4 Cut leaf shape, singe the edges if desired, can be painted with gold.

#5 Leaf, this idea was found on an old hat.
Cut the shape, slash the sides as in the template then trim off a small wedge on one side of each slash. Nice look if you use pinking shears to make the shape.
I am intrigued with the Romany way of life, the colour, art, and music of the Gypsies.
While on my own Journeys, I have visited Encampments in the New Forest in England, in the former Yugoslavia and even in a town park in Cambridge New Zealand.
Love the way the women create pouches from whatever they find along the wayside, and decorate them with beads and flowers, dangles and embroidery.
The life and colour they bring to their clothing and accessories makes me want to dance and sing! It is in my Soul.
Gypsy purses are a reflection of my romantic nature and enjoyment of all kinds of stitchery.

Here for you, is a sampling from one of my classes along with a Tutorial for the purse and some of my velvet flowers.

Create a Gypsy Purse of your own

You need 2 squares of outer fabric, about 8" is enough. I used Moire'.
2 pieces of lining satin
2 pieces of iron on interfacing
1 1/2 yards of neck cord.
8" of fringe for the bottom
Transfer on fabric, a  womans' face
Beads, scraps of velvet for flowers and leaves, and short pieces of trims and ribbons. Some bits of lace and hand dyed silk.
Sewing supplies and any embellishments you might like to add.

Draw a rectangle pattern and round off the bottom
and make a small point.
Iron interfacing to both pieces of outer fabric.
Place the image on the front and audition
the trims, ribbons and bits of lace .
Stitch everything on and use seed beads to
enhance the design and cover some of the edges of the print.
Make velvet flowers and leaves,
see the Tutorial, and sew on in groups, usually on the lower part of the design.
Add more beads and fill in the
gaps with scrunched ribbons or pieces of fine silk fabric.
Create a beaded dangle for the point of the purse if you like. Do this before sewing the pieces together.

Now sew the back and front together adding the fringe in between, hold it and the dangle up out of the way first.
Stitch the lining and insert into the purse along with the hanging cord.
I like to bead the top opening with seed beads or sometimes I overcast the edge with decorative threads.
Hang on a wall and check the design adding more texture if needed.

Now is time to wear your pouch and dance the night away.
I do hope I have given you a few ideas to use in your own fiber arts.
Lilla Le Vine April 06

blooms in progress
detail velvet flower embellishment
Earth Secrets
lay out
Making the dangle
almost there
In progresss
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Thank you so much to Lilla Le Vine for creating this wonderful Gypsy Purse tutorial for us, including her own methods for making velvet flowers for embellishments,
Scroll to the right for instructions, which can be highlighted for easy reading