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  • Writer's pictureLinda Jane Holmes

A Dorothy Bag with a Difference! | Baroness Bolsover

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

No respectable Victorian Lady would be seen without her dainty reticule, or Dorothy bag as we know it today, in which she carried the essentials for her busy social life, namely calling cards, a small coin purse, handkerchief, fan and a pencil. These small pouch bags, gathered at the top by a drawstring, were perfect for ladies’ lightweight items.

A 21st Century Dilemma

But the Victorian Baroness (featured above), who presents deliciously entertaining Afternoon Tea Talks all over the country admits her little Dorothy bag was beginning to feel the strain of today's essential bag item, the mobile phone.

"It's rather like me and struggles with the pressure of modern technology."

Spotting the Baroness's dilemma, designer Sue Coulton (seen alongside Her Ladyship) steps in and sets about making a new bag for the Baroness more suited to today's lifestyle.

Help from Within

From within her own home Sue found inspiration from a pretty, yet rather sturdy little object, a doorstop! Coincidently, called a Handbag Doorstop…. PERFECT!

After taking a pattern from the colourful doorstop Sue added 2 side pieces to create a more substantial structure, along with adding a plastic piece of grid to help reinforce the bottom of the bag. The new bag would also be fully lined.

"Experimenting at this stage is the key and that’s why it’s always good to make a mock-up of your design before cutting any fabric"

A Royal Look

Using spare material from the Baroness' new dress made by Planet Costume in Derbyshire, Sue decided to feature pink silk, always a favourite amongst the Victorian Ladies. It was only whilst playing around with trimmings that she developed what the Baroness now jokingly refers to as her new Coat of Arms!

"Don’t be frightened of embellishing, it’s all part of the fun and Victorian Ladies excelled at being elaborate!"

Lace too was a favourite amongst the Victorians who saw it as a display of status. Sue painstakingly created her own beautiful lace feature.

"I backed the lace with darker material and handstitched the edges to enhance the intricate lace pattern, adding beads for a luxurious effect."

It was this kind of detail that would enable Victorian Ladies to show off their needlecraft skills to their friends as well as create a personalised bag.

Sue replaces the traditional draw-string handle of the Dorothy bag with a longer, sturdier, handle to sit elegantly on the expansive 'leg-of-mutton' sleeves, featured on the Baroness' new dress and the height of late 19th century fashion.

To add an elegant finishing touch Sue made 2 pink Rouleau loops which are threaded through a blue silk top casing to create a sturdy fastening.

The final result....

A Simply Splendid new bag for the delighted Baroness...

"Thanks to Sue, I’m at the forefront of 21st century fashion with a beautiful handbag in which I can fit both my fan AND my phone!"

07930 258399

Learn the DO’S & DON’TS of Afternoon Tea Etiquette with the Victorian Baroness. Take a step back in time as Her Ladyship recollects her Afternoon Tea experiences in the reign of her beloved Queen Victoria and discover the answers to some of life’s most difficult dilemmas, Milk or Tea first?

"A brilliant speaker" June Toovey, President, Bramhope WI
"I felt like I’d been transported back into Victorian times…" Heather Wheeldon, President, Barlborough & Clowne WI

or Call 07930 258399

"You were fabulous!" Maureen Hancox, President, Cookridge Crumpets WI
"Your presentation was superb!..." Martene Midwood, President, Great Rollright WI

A Delicious Talk at any Time of the Day


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