A dolly or Dorothy bag is a traditional style that was originally used by bridesmaids to carry confetti, flower petals or rice for throwing over the happy couple. Made in white or cream silk with matching pearls, this dolly bag is the ideal accessory for any bride. Pearls can also be dyed in a wide range of pastel shades to match the bridesmaids’ dresses or choose pale grey and silver beads to make a beautiful pearl-encrusted and embroidered evening bag.
45-cm (18-in) square of silver silk dupion
45-cm (18-in) square of ultra soft iron-on interfacing
Silver embroidery thread and a needle
Fifty 3-mm (1/8-in) round pearl beads in both silver and grey
Seventy-five 6-mm (1/4-in) oat pearl beads in both silver and grey
Small embroidery scissors
50 cm (20 in) fine silver cord or ribbon, for the tie
40 cm (16 in) medium silver cord, for the handle
45-cm (18-in) square of silver organza, for the lining
Seam allowances are 1.5 cm (5/8 in) and machine stitch is straight stitch.
Cut a piece of silver silk dupion 32 x 25 cm (12 1/2 in x 10 in). Cut two pieces of interfacing, one measuring 32 x 15 cm (12 1/2 x 6 in) and the other 32 x 9 cm (12 1/2 x 3 1/2 in). With all bottom edges aligning, place the larger piece of interfacing onto the silk then place the smaller piece onto the larger one, as shown in the picture. Iron in place. To position the bead motifs evenly but in a random pattern, mark pencil dots on the interfacing, leaving 3-4 cm (1 1/4-1 1/2 in) between each dot and keeping the seam allowances clear.
Using a double strand of silver embroidery thread, bring the thread out at the first dot, pick up a round silver pearl and take the needle back through. Bring the needle up next to the pearl, pick up a grey oat pearl, and take the needle back through at the end of the bead. Sew another four grey oat pearls to create a flower shape. Work 6-mm (1/4-in) straight stitches out from the centre pearl between each ‘petal’. Alternating the colours of the pearls, work a bead flower on each dot.
In a space between the pearl flowers, sew a single round silver pearl. Work six lazy daisy stitches around the pearl (see diagram opposite) with two strands of silver embroidery thread to make small embroidered flowers. Work these embroidered flowers between the gaps of all pearl flowers, alternating the colours of the central pearl. Finally, fill in any gaps in the embroidered fabric with single round grey or silver pearls. Add some single pearls above the halfway point in a random fashion to soften the edge of the beading.
Iron a 3-cm (1 1/4-in) square of interfacing on the reverse side in the centre of the panel, 8 cm (3 in) from the top edge to reinforce the fabric before making the buttonholes. On the right side, in the centre of the square of interfacing, mark the position of two 7-mm (3/8-in) horizontal buttonholes with tacking thread. Using the buttonhole facility on your sewing machine, work the two buttonholes. Cut between the rows of satin stitch with small embroidery scissors to make the buttonhole openings. Now fit a zipper foot to the machine so that you can stitch beside the beads. Fold the silk bag panel in half widthways with the beads on the inside and stitch the back seam. Press open the seam.
To make the base, iron two 12-cm (4 3/4-in) squares of interfacing one on top of the other on to the reverse side of a 12-cm (4 3/4-in) square of silver silk dupion. Draw an 11-cm (4 1/4-in) circle on the interfacing and cut it out. Mark the circle into quarters with small notches on the outer edge, as shown in the photograph. Now fold the beaded bag panel into quarters and mark the bottom edge with notches in the same way as the circular base. Pin the circle into the base so that the notches match up and tack. Snip into the seam allowance of the bottom edge of the beaded bag panel to allow the fabric to lie flatter on the circle and then machine stitch. Trim the seam to 6 mm (1/4 in).
Fold over 5 cm (2 in) around the top of the bag. Machine stitch two casing lines 7 mm (3/8 in) apart either side of the buttonholes. Thread the fine silver cord or ribbon through the casing to make the tie. Now stitch the ends of the medium silver cord either side of the bag on the inside to make the handle.
To make a silk organza lining, cut a 32 x 17-cm (12 1/2 x 6 3/4-in) panel and an 11cm (4 1/4-in) circle for the base. Stitch the back seam and inset the circular base in the same way as before (see Step 5). Turn the bag inside out, fold over the top edge of the lining and tuck the bag inside. Slip stitch the lining to the casing stitching and turn the bag through.
Use one of the new ultra-soft iron-on interfacings to interface the silk as they give a softer effect than traditional interfacings.