Monday, April 21, 2014


Photo log for a simple tarsoly. 

The tarsoly is a form of belt pouch found mainly in Magyar Hungary (and surrounding regions); however, at least one made its way up to Birka and was found.  They are often a rounded square in shape, narrower at the top--or a simple rectangle--, and have a single piece belt strap going over the belt and through a latch on the front (which in turn goes through the front flap).

This style of belt purse was typically heavily ornamented with metalwork--to the point of the entire face being ornamented with repoussé, or cast pieces of metalwork. 

Found at Birka.  Replica castings are readily available online. 

So the first step was to draft my pattern.  I decided on something which is only slightly larger than the above photo, and approximately the same shape.


Because I didn't have enough of the 5oz leather, I had to make due with a piece of saddle skirting (12oz or so), which becomes the flap.

Here, you can see the back of the tarsoly inlayed and stitched down to the heavier flap.  The edges of the flap were beveled, so they would be the same thickness as the rest of the leather.
I chose to cover the front flap, and partially line the body of the pouch with fabrics, which are basted in place.
The exterior fabric is a 50/50% wool/silk blend I have had in my stash for several years.  I was inspired by the ones made here. 

The linings of heavy blue linen, basted into place.  The basting was done as close to the edge of the leather as possible, with the holes made by an awl.
Holes punched, as described.  The leather is flesh side out, and rubbed with a paste wax.
Sewing the binding on, using wool thread (60/2, I believe), with a fine running stitch.

Bindings all sewn down.

First seam of the sides stitched down.  I used the same holes as for the binding, and matched stitches.  The thread is doubled, here.
The stitching is completed.  All that remains is the brasswork, and riveting it down.
Latch plate.  The template was cut from cardboard, and the (24 gauge) brass was out with scissors.
Hole drilled out.
Finished shaping.  I used the highly technical tools of a small hammer and a nail to do the punchwork.  000 steel wool was used for polishing.
The pieces; Latch, latch plate, and strap end.  I ended up having to redo the latch, because it wasn't tall enough.
First rivet, of copper wire.
Finished tarsoly. 
I believe I will end up redoing bits...the strap, and probably the strap tip, eventually.



Birka tarsoly photo:

© John Frey, 2004. The Author of this work retains full copyright for this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of this document for non-commercial private research or educational purposes provided the copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved on all copies.  Photographs of my work may not be duplicated.

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