Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Heligan Bag - Adventures in Hand Sewing
Hello everybody - I had intended to update this blog more often but when deadlines loom it is all hands to the wheel and everything else gets pushed aside.  Autumn seems to come earlier every year so maybe that white and gold bag won't get any further for a while as I don't see myself getting any use out of it until next summer now.  No matter, here is another smaller but more seasonally versatile bag I made a while back.  Up there you see the front, down here you see the reverse:
Now you see the inspiration with the bag in situ:
This photograph was taken at The Lost Gardens of Heligan which is not far from St Austell in Cornwall and close to the Eden Project which has rather eclipsed it.  They are nothing alike however and a wander through the wonderfully wild woods is a treat as there are trees like this and they can inspire bags!  Here is the picture that inspired the bag on an earlier trip:
This inspired me to make this textured bag.  First I got some bits of leftover unbleached calico from making toiles for garments and I painted a background with fabric paints:
Then I got out my mixed box of yarns.  I mostly use embroidery floss when doing freestyle or cross stitch and it is all too easy to get into a rut; there is life beyond six-strand mercerised cotton.  Most of these were ends of balls of yarn or from the wonderful mixed packs of yarns sold by Texere Yarns.  You can buy their textured yarn packs as I have used right here 

There is some floss there too and those ivy leaves are cut from some soft dark green gloving leather which I was given.  Sorry, I have no source for this and wish I had as leather is difficult to get hold of.  The handle remains painted and is shoulder bag length.  To make your own with your own photos (or use mine, why not) here is the pattern for the front:

And here for the back:
These include seam allowances and are full sized but of course you can make them any size you want.  Lining them is a good idea and I used the same fabric to make a good tough bag.  The strap is as long as you want it (depends on personal taste and your height) and should be about 2 1/2" wide.  This gets painted, folded in half and the sides turned in along one long edge, then this is stitched close to the edge and then the other side too.

Ivy leaf pattern for the large leaf:
And for the small one:
And lastly the stitches I used:
Plus a close up of a leaf being attached and the work itself:

To make just do the following: 

Cut out two backs and two fronts plus a strap (try measuring your favorite bag strap for length)

Paint the background with fabric paints on one back, one front and the strap.  Leave to dry and heat fix with an iron.

Decorate with stitches, leather leaves and anything else that comes to hand.  Hey, its your bag after all!

Follow above instructions for the strap.

Right sides together, stitch front to front lining and back to back lining leaving a space at the bottom of about 2".  Turn to right side and stitch up the space with neat oversewing.  Press well.

Place front on top of back and stitch all around the front, leaving the top open of course. 

Attach straps by turning in a bit at each end and stitching under the part where the back flops over.

You now need a fastening of some kind and I used a largish press stud sewn under the flap with one part on the front and the other just on the lining of the back and thus invisible.  Nobody really wants to see a press stud after all.

Your bag is ready to roll.

Sewing World - September 2012
Have you got yours yet?  Time to visit Smith's or even better, take out a subscription so you don't miss anything.  If you have it turn to page 47 and you can see my Pretty Pintuck Shirt, all ready to team with your favorite trousers when it gets too cold to wear that sundress.  I did not take a photo of it, such was my haste to make that deadline.  Visit the site right here for some free projects and more. 

Actually, the magazine might not even be out quite yet at the time of me typing this but by the time you read this I am sure it will be.

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