This is the one that started it all. I was researching embroidered bands looking for patterns I could use to embellish the necks and cuffs of early period tunics when I happened on Frame I-9 in the Victoria & Albert Museum Textiles Study Room. This piece jumped out at me because of it's simplicity and striking colors. I could see that it would be very easy to embroider, a perfect subject for a beginning embroidery class or article.  Researching its background and history, and charting the other available pieces kept me distracted for a good long time. I never did get back to the original project.

Description: "Small square bag, linen entirely embroidered with colored silks, three tassels"

Origin: Germany
Period: 14th-15th century
Current location: Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
Museum number: 8699-1863
Object number: O144713

Current Museum page:
Current Museum Raw Record info:

Original catalog description:
"Bag of coarse linen, embroidered with green, blue, red, and white silks, in long stitch, in diaper pattern of squares and crossed line forms. German. 14th centy. 3 1/2 in. sq. This is similar to patterns on specimens Nos. 8305.-1863 (Y-017A coming soon - Y) and 262.-1861 (not listed, likely a misprint of 1262-1864 See Y-018A, coming soon - Y). It may have been used as reliquary or for carrying rosary beads." (Cole: 247)

Personal Observations:
I was able to examine this item very closely, over many sessions, it is probably the one I am most familiar with. It also seems to be a favorite subject for embroiderers out there as reproductions and variations abound.

The bag appears to have been embroidered as one piece, then folded in half and stitched such that there is a fold on one side, with seams at the bottom and remaining side, leaving the top open. A band of tabby-woven linen covers the edges of the opening, and this is pierced with paired holes, probably for one or two drawstrings. This band might be a separate band, or part of the unseen lining pulled out and over to cover the edge.  

Three tassels decorate the bottom of he bag; one centered, the other two at the bottom corners. These are colored red, green, and what might be badly faded gold or yellow. All three tassels are worked through the bag's ground fabric, made directly on the bag by stitching repeatedly through the fabric and then gathering the fibers into a bundle. The tassels are bound with a stitched band, possibly fine leather, possibly gilded.

The museum descriptions given above refer to white silk in the embroidery, however, the actual current label and my own examination identify it as plied linen.

Fabric count: 28 count fabric (Based on personal observation)

Colors noted (Matched under natural light to a DMC sample card):
    Red Silk (DMC 347)
    Green Silk (DMC 368)
    Blue Silk (DMC 312)
    White Linen (DMC 746)

Cole, Alan S. A Descriptive Catalogue of the Collections of Tapestry and Embroidery in the South Kensington Museum. London: Printed by Eyre and Spottiswoode for H.M. Stationery Off., 1888.{}