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SILKY LINGERIE PURSE HAS A TOUCH OF '40S GLAMOUR

Call it impractical. Call it an unnecessary frill. But this lingerie purse with the silkiest feel might just inspire you to indulge yourself in a little luxury reminiscent of 1940s Hollywood, when starlets waltzed around in satin gowns and slipped their finest lingerie in little envelope-style purses. And it is so easy to make that you just might want a little respite from the ordinary.

Oddly enough, the secret to this pretty accessory is a silk scarf. The envelope-style construction of the purse makes a scarf the perfect fabric for use on this project. Scarves come in the most ravishing array of patterns and textures, they are finished at the edges, they are the exact size (60 by 15 inches) that you will need, and they are reasonably priced.

Once you find a scarf you like, you only need do a bit of folding and hand-stitching to create the little purse. As a matter of fact, the basic construction is so straightforward (and takes so little time) that you can convert the purse into a little evening bag by adding a shoulder cord in a matching or contrasting color. You can purchase 1/4 -inch-thick silk cord by the yard, measuring the distance from your shoulder to the tips of your fingers, and multiplying by two.

There is only one catch to this project: hand-sewing. Hand-sewing is the preferred method for sewing up the sides of the purse since you can make tiny stitches that won't show on delicate fabrics such as silk. Also, hand-sewing is more controllable, especially with fabrics like satin or silk that can slip and slide when sewn by machine.

The final accent to the purse is a loop and cord closure. It is more decorative than functional, since the contents of the purse are usually slipped inside and laid flat in a drawer; however, the closure is a place where you can jazz up your own version. Look for decorative buttons in rhinestone or pearl, or substitute large glass beads, polished wood or bone for a complementary accent.

When choosing a scarf, first check out your own collection, considering one that is long and pretty. I chose a lined silk, but you can also use cashmere or wool, realizing that the style message will change accordingly. The only thing to remember is that the softer the fabric, the less structure to the finished purse. So look for scarves with some body or for ones that have an attached lining. If necessary, add your own lining; directions are provided below.

Estimated working time: 1 hour

Estimated cost: $14.50 (varies according to choice of scarf)

Sources: Scarf, $12; thread, $1.10; cord, 35 cents; button, 50 cents; hand sewing needle, 10 cents; straight pins, 39 cents.

Materials

To make one lingerie purse, you will need:

Double-layered silk scarf, approximately 60 inches long by 15 inches wide

Matching thread

Hand-sewing needle

Straight pins

Scissors

Closure: 3-inch-long length silk cord

3/4 -inch-diameter decorative button

Note: If your scarf needs to be lined, you will need: lining sized to fit scarf measurements, thread, straight pins and a sewing machine. Follow Steps A through D below to line scarf.

Directions

A. Cut lining fabric to the same size as scarf.

B. Lay lining on scarf, right sides facing, all edges even. Use straight pins to secure four sides.

C. Machine stitch all sides, 3/8 inch from edge, leaving opening for turning.

D. Clip corners and turn scarf to right side; press seams flat using iron set to appropriate heat level.

To create purse:

1. To begin, lay lined scarf vertically on clean, flat work surface, lining side facing up.

2. Fold scarf in half, bringing bottom short side up to meet top short side, linings facing; use straight pins to secure long sides and short side.

3. Use threaded needle to hand-sew two long sides of scarf.

4. Fold closure cord in half and position ends between layers in center of open short side, loop extending beyond edge; pin in place.

5. Use straight pins to secure short side, positioning pins across side and securing loop in place.

6. Hand-sew short side, securing loop and closing side, using whipstitch or blind stitch; remove pins.

7. To form envelope, fold scarf in thirds, using pins to mark position of each of two folds. Note: Bottom fold will become purse; top fold will be flap of purse.

8. Unfold top third and use threaded needle to sew purse sides of envelope closed. Note: Do not sew across short edge of scarf; this will be opening to envelope.

9. To mark position of button, fold top third of scarf down to within 3/4 -inch of bottom edge.

10. Use pin to mark center of loop on purse section.

11. Sew decorative button to marked position.

12. Slip loop around button to close.

In 1940s Hollywood, starlets waltzed around in satin gowns and slipped their finest lingerie in little envelope-style purses. This one is easily made out of a silk scarf.