Victorians and Edwardians were fond of traveling. ‘The Grand Tour’ – a travel through European countries – was a popular travel to finish the education of wealthy young adults. Italy and Greece were the most popular travel destinations, and some even traveled to the Far East! The advent of the railroad and steamships in the Victorian era made traveling much easier. In the Victorian era, there were already unchaperoned traveling women, such as Ida Pfeiffer – the travel blogger of the Victorian era! 😉 While Edwardian women and men sometimes preferred trips by bicycle.
So Victorians and Edwardians needed many travel accessories. Some Victorians and Edwardians bought their travel accessories while some made their own. Below you’ll find a round-up of Victorian & Edwardian travel accessories with instructions on how to make your own!
Victorian & Edwardian Travel Accessories
Victorian Travel Bags
‘The old-fashioned carpet bag (Fig. 1) is still unsurpassed by any, where rough wear is the principal thing to be studied. Such a bag, if constructed of good Brussels carpeting and unquestionable workmanship, will last a lifetime, provided always that a substantial frame is used.’ (Scientific American Supplement, 1888)
‘Carpet bags should be purchased with large gores at the sides, as when thus made, they contain many more articles, and more conveniently than when they are only two plain pieces of carpet. They should also have a brass plate.
When gentlemen travel much between two places, it is well to have the brass plate moveable, and engraved with one address on each side, so that nothing is necessary but to turn it, thereby preventing the necessity of constantly renewing the written directions: this plate is fastened at one end by a pivot, which is secured between the two locks (every bag should have two locks), at the mouth of the bag, and at the other end of the plate is a brass loop, which is fastened to the lock at either side. […]
When the party sleep several nights on the road, it is advisable to have a large carpet bag containing the night-dress of each individual packed up in night-gown bags, dressing tidies (see Plate 24), marked with the initials of the persons; by this means much trouble is saved. It is a good plan to sew a camphor bag in the night-gown to prevent the attack of fleas and bugs.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 121)
‘This is made of Holland, calico, or thick cambric, or glazed muslin, and sometimes trimmed all round with a frill, or piped with coloured calico. It is intended to contain the night-gown, cap, also the dressing-gown, and perhaps a change of linen, and the tidy or dressing-case, and may be made to any size, according to the number of things it is intended to contain.
Its chief use is in travelling, especially in a large family, when the separate case, containing each individual’s night things are easily found together, and as easily put up in a large carpet bag. Each bag should bear either the name or the initials of the person to whom it belongs.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 208)
‘In packing for a large family it is a good plan to keep the linen separate by putting a towel between the layers of linen, letting each layer consist only of the clothes of one person, so that on unpacking, the towel containing the linen of each individual is simply lifted out, without the trouble of looking at the marks.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 121)
SAILOR’S CANVAS BAG
‘In commencing to make a canvas bag as used by sailors, a double seam is sewn down the side of the bag, and it is then a canvas cylinder. To get the radius of the circle for the canvas bottom, measure the width of the bag while flat on a table and add 2 in., and divide by 3.
Make a loop of twine to this size, stick a sail needle into a piece of canvas, and with pencil and twine describe a circle about 2 in. greater in diameter than the bag. Now shorten the twine 1 in. and make another circle, cut out the canvas bottom to the outer circle, turn in 1/2 in. of the edge of the bag and sew a round seam with needle and twine, keeping the doubled edge to the inner pencilled circle; turn the bag inside out, and flat-seam the bottom edge to the side; this makes a neater job, though the one seam alone will suffice.
For securing the top of the bag, sew a leather strip on the top edge of the canvas just as braid is put on cloth; then to the side seam, just below the leather, sew a strap to encircle the neck tightly and fasten with a padlock, the strap being furnished at its ends with hasp, etc., to take the padlock; the leather edging cannot be pulled under the strap.
Another plan is to sew a tabling or hem round the top edge, then sew canvas beckets about 6 in. apart round the neck, and through these pass the strap and lock as before. A piece of brass chain is sometimes used in place of the strap, the end links taking the lock. A strap with buckle can, of course, be used if a lock is not wanted.’ (Cassell’s Cyclopaedia Of Mechanics, 1900)
Edwardian Travel Purses
REGULATION TRAVELING BAG
‘The regulation traveling bag is one of the most serviceable of the chain purses, and it is beautifully neat as well, which counts for so much these days. Besides all that, it kills two birds with one stone, as it serves as a handbag and a purse all in one.
It is rather large and is generally divided into two parts, one for money and the larger one for any of the numerous little odds and ends that, one needs for a short trip. The outside pocket is a fit and fine place for tickets, as they are easily got at, and nine times out of ten when the conductor comes along everything else is in evidence but the thing most needed.
These purses, by the way, have a safety clasp. The steel piece which slips over the belt has a claw-shaped piece which can be fastened into the band, and unless the cloth is torn into strips no one can possibly get it off and it is absolutely safe, although all you have to do is to stop on any corner and listen to the private opinion of one man telling another how absurd it is for women to invite pickpockets in such a reckless fashion.’ (San Francisco Call, 1903)
‘Woman is a strange personage and she is very apt to carry her valuables in a peculiar place, to say the least. It is no once-a-year sight to see a woman moving about in a mysterious fashion, and if you are one of the initiated you know that her little horde is securely fastened with a huge pin at the top of her hosiery. Unless she is careful you might see a powder puff and an extra handkerchief, for that is the one place where everything and anything may be carried with all possible safety.
Or again, she may carry a chamois skin fastened to the top of her corset, another secure place, but one that is rather difficult to get at in a crowded shop. Trouble, trouble! There has always been plenty of it and there always will be just as long as women try to shop or travel with something that lies in the palm of their hands and that may be put down and forgotten.’ (San Francisco Call, 1903)
Victorian & Edwardian Toiletry Bags
‘Every one has among the unmade odds and ends in the attic or store room for which a use is expected to be found some day a number of pieces of cotton goods which have been left over from summer dresses or the curtaining and upholstering of summer parlors or bedrooms.
They are not so valuable as the pieces of silk and velvet from which sofa pillows, hand bags and numerous dainty costume accessories may be made, nor is it of much use to keep them to mend the gown or curtain of which they have been a part, because cotton things are not expected to last many seasons in the first place, and in the second because making them over with new goods to help out is usually impossible as the difference caused by fading is too apparent. Still, the pieces accumulate, and the patterns are so pretty and the coloring so fetching that one treasures them long after the costumes which they match have gone into the rag bag.
It is possible, if one has time to sew, to make the most attractive toilet bags and cases of these pieces. One can create one’s entire outlay of Christmas gifts from them with a very small expenditure of money. For many purposes they are far more appropriate than silk. In this season of flowered organdies and embroidered batistes for gowns and flowered chintzes and cretonnes for bedroom furnishings the pieces of cotton goods available in most houses are particularly suited. […]
‘One of the most useful articles of this nature, which will be greatly appreciated as a gift or will be of much use in your own boudoir or trunk, is a case which may be used either at home or in traveling for holding sponges, wet brushes, cloths, etc. It is made of striped Dresden chintz of quite a heavy quality and is lined throughout with rubber, so that the toilet articles may be put in directly after using while one is traveling.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1905)
A TRAVELING DRESSING-CASE OR TIDY
‘These are most useful things, and no one who has once used them will travel without them, unless they can conveniently carry a dressing-case with them. They are made of Russia duck, ticking, or stamped cloth, or any other firm material. In making up, the greatest exactness is required to make the parts fit truly. The back, which is all in one piece, is lined with strong calico, and the various pockets are then laid on, the bottom of one being sewed a little below where the top of the next will come, so that the whole has a neat appearance: the sizes of the pockets, given in the Plate, allow for this wrapping over.
The top of each pocket is bound with purple or other coloured galloon, and the divisions for the smaller ones are formed by stitching a piece of narrow galloon neatly down upon them. The whole is then bound round with galloon, and strings of the same colour fastened to the pointed end, so as to tie round the dressing-case when it is full. As purple galloon will wash well, it is best for this purpose, as most other colours fade.
On each pocket is written with marking ink, the name of the article to be contained in it; these of course differ according to the fancy of the owner, but the most usual are curl papers in the triangular pocket at the top, H for hair-pins, W for thread, tapes, buttons, &c., S for soap, P for tooth-powder, T for tooth-brush, which ought also to be enclosed in an oil silk bag; C for comb, and B for hair brush.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 208f.)
‘A collapsible dressing bag that is well adapted for travelling is made of six half yard strips of wide taffeta ribbon joined with cable cording and shirred to a circular cardboard bottom. A satin lining is tacked to the seams of the ribbon panels and the sections thus formed make convenient pockets. Each receptacle has its individual baby ribbon drawstring, and a wider ribbon at the top of the bag pulls it together.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1909)
RAZOR CASE & GENTLEMAN’S TRAVELING DRESSING CASE
‘In making razor cases use soft leather, which may be purchased in skins of any color. Use a strip about 10 by 14 inches. Make a lining of double-faced outing flannel a trifle longer to allow for the turning in of the raw edges. Featherstitch to this in pocket form, pockets to be an inch wide, a strip 7 by 14 inches. Then stitch the lining to the leather along all the edges. An initial can be embroidered on the case, the color to match the feather stitching. The sides double over as in a spoon case, to protect the razors.’ (Sacramento Union, 1909)
‘Gentleman’s travelling dressing case. This is made of leather of any length, according to the number of things put in. It should be the width of the longest of the articles to be put in (say the razors). A row of divisions of the proper sizes are made by a strap of leather carried all along the case in which the razor strop, boot hooks, razors, scissors, knife, tweezers, pencil, tooth brush case, shaving brush, and soap case are put. The flaps fold over, and the whole wraps up and ties round. The articles should be bought before the case is made, as the divisions can then be formed exactly to fit.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 215f.)
‘A hatpin case is a useful present for the woman who travels, as it keeps the pins together and prevents their loss – a great consideration in these days of elaborate and expensive hatpins. The case may be carried out in any material you like. Its measurement is that of the ordinary hatpin, allowing an inch for the reception of any extra long ones.
The design in the cut shows the case open and closed, and as it may contain as many pins as you like your own discretion must be the guide as to its width. A ribbon strip inserted down the middle and divided into sections serves as a receptacle for the pins, which are prevented from slipping out by the flaps on the ends. The top comes down over the case when folded and is fastened with a small button and loop. The edges are bound with ribbon, silk cord or braid, according to the material used for the case. The initials of the owner and the word “Hatpins” embroidered on the front give a pretty finishing touch to a charming little gift.’ (Marin Journal, 1906)
Victorian Shoe, Shawl & Nursery Bags
‘Shoe cases. These are meant to hold shoes in travelling, and to take the place of wrapping-paper. As each case holds but one pair of shoes, it is well to make two of them, or more, as a present. Cut out of brown linen a case or bag which will easily hold a pair of shoes. Bind the edges with braid, and fasten strings about the mouth to tie it with; or make the end long enough to fold over, shaping it like an envelope, and fastening it with a button and buttonhole.’ (The American Girl’s Home Book of Work And Play, 1890)
‘Slipper bags are made of six half yard strips of satin, taffeta or ribbon, with gracefully rounded points that project over the shirring casing at the top. These points are lace edged or herringbone embroidered and faced with plain silk or with all-over muslin embroidery. Small pockets set on the outer side of each panel are for handkerchiefs, talcum powder, vanity mirror and manicure tools.’ (Los Angeles Herald, 1909)
‘Shoe or brush and comb bag. These are very convenient in travelling, as they save much paper, and take up little room, they are made of different materials, according to the shoe to be put in. If for walking shoes, a coarse brown canvas called earn, is the most suitable. For house shoes, calico or Holland, and for satin slippers, old silk.
The bags are made to draw up at one end in the usual way, and should be just wide enough to contain the shoes, but as they are useful to put in one’s muff, or to carry in the hand when going out to dine or spend the day, it is as well to leave sufficient space at the top for a pair of stockings above the shoe. The name of the owner, and the quality of the shoe, should be put outside. […]
Boot bags. These are very useful for gentlemen whose boots take much room when wrapped in paper, which they often burst, and soil the clean linen; a boot when packed is generally rolled up from the top about half the leg, the bag should be made to fit it when thus rolled, and is on an average, about the following size: The width at the top of the case, about three nails. The width at the bottom, about five nails. The length of the case when doubled, about four nails in front, sloped down at the top to three nails and a quarter.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 209f.)
‘Probably most of the girls who read this book know what shawl-bags are like, and also know their usefulness. They are not only capital things to protect shawls from dust and cinders in travelling, but may be used as another hand-bag, to carry small articles in case of need.
Stout brown Holland is the best material. Cut two round end-pieces eight inches across, and a piece half a yard wide by twenty-four inches long. Sew the sides of the piece around the two end-pieces, making a cylinder with a long slit, which is to be the mouth of the bag. Face the edges of the slit, and bind them and the seams at the ends with worsted braid. Close the opening with five buttons and buttonholes, and sew on a stout strip of doubled linen by way of handle, like that of a shawl-strap. The bag may be ornamented on one side with the initials of its owner.’ (The American Girl’s Home Book of Work And Play, 1890)
‘This is used by nurses while travelling, and is very convenient for the purpose of carrying infants’ soiled linen. The bag should be of dark coloured silk, or washing material, made in two divisions, and lined throughout with oiled silk, or Indian rubber cloth, so as to be waterproof. They should be six nails wide, and five or six nails deep. The oil silk bag should be made to draw out of the silk or outer bag. The one pocket or division holds the soiled linen, and the other pocket contains a damp sponge.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 210)
Victorian Portable Travel Desks
TRAVELLING PORTE FOLIO
‘This is convenient for travelling, when there is not sufficient room for a desk; it is made of card or book board, and covered with black silk or paper. Under the part marked A, is a porte folio for paper, the two parts being connected together by means of a wide ribbon all round. The four flaps lay over and tie across with ribbon. On the part, A, are places for sealing wax, pencil, pens, knife and paper knife, all in one, and at the corner a piece of ribbon sewed on in a circle, and made to draw up like a bag, to contain wafers.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 215)
SEAMAN’S OR TRAVELLER’S CASE
‘This sort of case is very useful for men in all classes when travelling, and for school boys, and is usually made of Russia duck, or of leather; it is one yard long, and about one nail and a half or two nails wide. The pockets and thread-case must all be prepared before sewing them to the back. A is divided, according to the Plate, for the thread case as in a housewife, it is about four nails long, and has two flaps, C and B, at the ends, to keep the thread neat. The flap, C, is finished inside, as seen in Fig. 43, with boot-hooks, &c., &c. The thread should be strong white, strong black, whity brown, carpet thread, pack thread, and other kinds, also white and black silk.
D is a square pincushion with divisions for scissors, tweezers, stiletto, &c. Inside this pocket should slip a needle book and sticking plaister case, both in one; the flaps of E F G H, all hook and eye down to their respective pockets, which contain fish-hooks, buttons, hooks and eyes, &c., &c.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 215)
LADIES’ TRAVELING BAG
‘A travelling bag is very useful for ladies, when taking long journeys, especially when they are fond of working or sketching while in the carriage. The Fig. represents both sides of the bag complete, excepting that it requires the sides to be sewed up. It is thus laid open, or unsewed, in order to explain the plan more clearly.
The bag should be made of rich strong silk, and on one side pockets are made to contain as follows: A. Needle book or housewife. B. Scissors. C. Work and cotton. D. Pocket for money. E. Ditto for watch, or gold, &c. On the other side, the pockets are as follows: F. For a note book, or journal. G. For two pencils. H. Sketch book. I. Rules. J. Knife.
A piece of Indian rubber is fastened to a bit of galloon and confined to one end of the bag. The pockets should be put in rather lower from the top than is represented in the Plate, else the bag will not close neatly, when the strings are drawn.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 214)
Victorian Accessories For The Trunk
SCENT CASE FOR TRUNKS
‘Scent-cases for trunks. These are useful gifts for a friend who travels often. Clothing packed away in trunks is apt to contract a smell of leather; and a large case of silk or muslin, scented with delicate powder, and made to fit the top of the trunk, will be sure to be appreciated.’ (The American Girl’s Home Book of Work And Play, 1890)
‘It is a good plan to sew a camphor bag in the night-gown to prevent the attack of fleas and bugs.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 121)
‘This is made of coarse sacking or earn, and is most useful for covering large trunks, and is composed simply of two lengths of the stuff, laid one across the other, and stitched firmly together, exactly where they fall upon each other, forming an oblong or square of back-stitching, as in the plate, of the size of the bottom of the trunk. Four holes should be made in one of the sides, on which the direction card may be more easily fastened (see A). The ends are turned down with a broad hem, and buttonholes made on the hems of the two ends, B and C, and at two or more nails firom the hem at the opposite sides.
In packing up the trunk, it is simply laid upon the back-stitched square of the sacking, and the sides being turned up, two at a time, they are laced up with cord, without the trouble of getting a packing needle and sewing it up every time.’ (The Workwoman’s Guide, 1840, p. 211)