This project has been long in the planning and I'm sure will be even longer in the execution. The original calls for silver and gold beads with blue and white purse silk. I am working on 000s in black & blue perle cotton and with white beads from Mill Hill.
What you see so far is three packets of beads. Finishing this stripe will probably take most of a fourth pack. There are a total of six stripes plus some beading in the middle and some beaded tassels. That means 25+ packets of beads. Crap. It takes me several hours to thread two packets. Double crap.
The shop where I buy these usually orders them three at a time and it took me two trips to get five packets. I'm thinking I may need to mail order.
As far as the silk to perle cotton change, purse silk is really not widely available. I do know a friend who has been making a miser's purse out of some silk cord and the silk for the purse ended up costing her $70, not counting the cost of the beads.
I had a chance this week to handle three Civil War-era purses made from silk. There was a minor difference in sheen and flexibility, but for me, the difference was not enough to justify the expense. To me, perle cotton was a passable, acceptable substitution. I'm sure if I were to announce such on a historic knitting forum, however, I'd be roundly corrected.
So I'll be keeping my mouth shut. You are hereby sworn to secrecy.