Monday, 18 March 2013

The Demise of the Circle Pouch

I've offered to make a few leather pouches as part of a fund raiser that our Barony is doing in a few months. Skraeling Althing has paid for an exhibitor table at the upcoming ComicCon in Ottawa and to make back some of the cost, they are putting together some newcomer kits that will be sold at the event.

I wanted something that would be simple to make, as I don't have a lot of time to add new projects to my plate. Looking at my patterns, it occurred to me that the simplest pattern would be a circle pouch ( I know, I can already hear the snickering from those who have made them before, just wait for it).

For those not as familiar with pouches, a circle pouch is a super-basic design. It's essentially a large circle (duh) of fabric or leather. You make some holes around the outside for a drawstring and then, when you pull the drawstring tight, you have a pouch. Easy, right?

So I pulled out my patterns, which had a couple of circle pouches, and I noticed that the circles were HUGE. I mean, the largest one probably had a diameter of  close to two feet. Who would need a circle pouch that big (I thought). So, I pulled out a larg-ish kitchen bowl, probably about a foot in diameter, and traced that for the pattern. Great plan, right?

Maybe not so much. I cut out the circle from my leather (fortunately just some of my fabric-weight green pigskin) but before I punched the holes I took the edges of the pouch and bunched them up to see the pouch - or what should have been a pouch. Alas, that big circle I cut barely made a coin purse.

Having never made a circle pouch before, I did learn some important lessons from this exercise.

First of all, these pouches are extremely wasteful. In addition to the size of the circle you need to cut, there's a lot of wasted leather around the shape, because it's hard to fit anything else around the outside of a round shape. As a result, you end up with a lot of scrap leather that can't really be used for anything else. So while they are "easy" to make, this would explain why they aren't all that common in the SCA for anything beyond a change purse. It just isn't cost efficient and frankly, I value leather enough to not want to waste it like that.

It does make me wonder about their use in period though. I can't imagine that leatherworkers in period would have used such a wasteful design very often. I'm also tempted to throw my stick-purse theory out the window that they may have used this design for the main pouches, it just doesn't seem to fit the efficiency they used with other elements of the design. It leads me to think the design is more something like this (without all the decorations of course, and different dimensions), which is similar to the one done by NP Historical Shoes.

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