In my last post I showed you my Embroidery Workbag, and Suzy asked if I had made it. I replied I had, and here is how.
My mother collected fabric scraps for years, planning to make a quilt one day. They included bits from dressmaking by my sister and I as well as recycled garments and bought remnants. I still have my Sindy doll with dresses made from some of them! Taken on their own I probably would not have chosen a lot of these fabrics, but massed together? They look great!
The fabric was cut and then sewn onto these little card templates. Then joined to form strips, and the strips joined in an offset (brickwork?) pattern. It had only reached about 18" square when she lost interest and gave it to my cousin to try and complete The problem was that the scraps were truly random, and the template really small (only 1 ¾" x 3") so you really needed to lay the whole lot out to arrange them properly. Not happening.
After my mother died in 2009, my cousin returned it all as she knew she would never complete it either. I got as far as sorting the pieces into Pinks or Blues and stored them in this metal box, which then gathered dust in my sewing room.
Two years later I got it out and looked at it again, and came up with a plan. I would use the piece she had assembled to make a bag instead of a quilt. That way I would only have to add a few more pieces to make it big enough. Using my old bag pattern (Style 4143) I could make view 5, a very simple bag that just requires a rectangle of fabric.
I had never actually done patchwork, but I had this book "Very easy Crazy Patchwork" by Betty Barnden which I used for reference. Then I went and talked to the very helpful and friendly lady in my local patchwork shop (Sew Creative) and bought some batting.
I added a few more pieces by hand to get the size I needed. I removed all the little cards and assembled my quilt sandwich with batting and backing and basted it all together. You can see it here – please excuse the white splotches, the sun was shining through the venetian blinds!
I had decided to quilt it by hand as apart from anything else the templates were not all the same size, and hand sewing would disguise any imperfect joins. I used Anchor embroidery silks in various colours to match those in the fabrics. I wanted it thick, so I used the floss whole. I really enjoyed doing embroidery again. For my first attempt at quilting I was really quite pleased!
I went down all the long straight seams first, using
Then I went across all the short seams with
Long & Short Loop stitch
These original instructions are very simple, and for an unlined bag. You can make one from a piece 26½” x 20½” (67 x 52cm). I added a lining (recycled tablecloth). I have to say I didn’t remember how I did it, so I made this sample to check!
I'm not sure if this picture actually makes it any clearer!
The top edges then slotted through the handles, and I stitched them down using Blanket stitch. Unfortunately I had to use plastic handles. Back when I bought the pattern (in 1973) all the handles were wooden. Sigh.
It feels lovely, all soft and nicely padded. Just as nice to touch as to look at. It’s the perfect bag to keep your knitting in, but totally impractical for daily use. I put it away as I don’t knit, and I didn’t know what else to do with it.
Then I started doing my Craftsy course "Design it, Stitch it" with Jessica and I needed a workbag for my embroidery, so now it has come out of storage! I love it on so many levels. It may sound like it was a lot of work, but it was a labour of love and was done in easy stages.
I have used some more of the pieces since then. I made this one with Lisa Lam’s "Big 'n' Beautiful Betty" pattern. The patchwork was machined together though, no more hand piecing. I stuck with the brickwork style and used hand embroidery for the quilting again. I added the Kanzashi brooch and gave it to my cousin.
I also made this small zipped purse from Lisa Lam's book "The Bag Making Bible". This time I used machine embroidery and tried lining up the strips instead of offsetting them. The heart applique hides the seam that didn’t meet properly! I gave it to my eldest niece.
Then I used some more to make the Butterfly Bag. I chose all blue pieces, and actually managed to match all the seams up this time. I used ‘Soft and Stable’ for the first time and it worked ever so well with the quilting. This one went to my middle niece
Just recently I used a lot of the larger remnants to make my Quattro Bag (Studio Kat Designs). I think this is the one my sister would like as it is so practical as well as beautiful. I will have to rummage through the remaining pieces and see what I can do!
I think my mother would approve of what I have created from her stash, and I still have all these to use up!