Category Archives: Bags

Patchwork tote

We all know about the evils of plastic bags … aside from their inherent ugliness, and the fact that they cut into your hands something beastly when they’re full, the environmental impact outweighs all of these by some distance. Their manufacture is carbon intensive, they take hundreds of years to degrade in landfill, and they’re a menace to flora and fauna if dropped and left to blow around the place.

How about an attractive alternative?

Patchworked from reclaimed denim and corduroy jeans, this tote is a monochrome dream with a flash of purple to lift it out of sombre winter dullness … purple silk trim around the top and on the handles, and an abstract machine-embroidered floral design to complement the colour.







I’ve left pocket details from the original garments on each end of the bag … handy little receptacles for phones, keys, and the other small but vital bits and pieces that inevitably sink to the bottom of big bags!

It’s lined in a sturdy black cotton … I love the way the purple embroidery really pops colour on the black … and it makes the bag reversible, should you fancy a change of mood.

But would you want to, with these gorgeous, sweetly patterned, appliqued cotton jersey roses on the outside?

And look … another pocket on the front …

I love this bag … it’s costing me a real pang to part with it! But it’s available right now in my Etsy shop – a completely unique, one of a kind bag that’s practical, stylish and environmentally friendly.

Sunset rain, lilies

Coming back after weeks of various injuries and ailments, too tedious and frustrating to revisit, to one of my favourite blocks from the cloth-to-cloth course. I loved the contrast between the vibrant exuberance of the silk and the sober solidity of the dark wool suiting fabric, and the feel of the two together was somehow quite luxurious.

I have a little penchant for oriental textiles, so one of my favourite places to visit is Dancing on Temple Tops … blogging about the ongoing adventures of a seamstress in Tokyo. A recent post on the Ikeda Collection caught my eye, in particular the glorious clutch purses, and I thought that this piece, with quilting and embroidery, might be an ideal starting point for a little experiment in that direction.

Inspiration comes from the strangest of places.

A glorious page of scribble from Bella (age 3) done specially for me,  could so easily have gone the way of so many other artworks (sadly … how is it possible to keep it all?) if it weren’t for the central red squiggle, looping around itself.

Hmmm. What if?

What if I traced over it?

oh yes, I like that, and with a bit of batting and some red silk fabric, ex-skirt-lining, for backing, it was time to start working those embroidery threads.

I still like it, but on its own it’s not enough … and the detail is dissolving. I needed to do more, both to clarify the floral element, and to properly fix the woven cloth into a coherent whole.

So. Whipped the stab-stitched lines to define individual petals and leaves, and stitched down within them to suggest the structure of the petals, and I brought in a couple of additional colours to further delineate the different areas.

And the more I worked on it, the more it seemed to become a pair of waterlilies resting on a pond at sunset … and the more I knew I needed to fill the spaces between somehow … without overcomplicating the design or distracting too much from the flowers. Waves? A suggestion of current & waterweed? Ripples? Ripples, yes, from raindrops, expanding and interrupting each other, each one a little off-centre from the next, but fulfilling its purpose to join both the design and the fabric into a single whole.

So pleased with the result. The finished piece is supple, but with reassuring weight and structural stiffness, and the feel of it under hand is just wonderful, and the shimmer of the silk and the texture given by the stitching over the batting distracts the eye from the almost-regular checkerboard pattern of the underlying weaving.

A little border, a little folding, a little finishing:

I love this bag.