After experimenting with sashiko embroidery for the first time to make dresses for the girls I was keen to have another go, this time to create something a bit more organic, inspired by japanese patchwork and boro techniques. I loved the look and texture of these methods and the reuse/recycle philosophy behind them, and it struck me as a good use for some of the many fabric scraps I have stashed at the back of my cupboard. I sorted through to find small pieces of fabric in shades of blue to use up, they were mainly denims (which worked well as they could be used on both sides), but also some quilt weight cotton, chambray and some heavy silk twill in dark navy.
I began by ripping some of the larger pieces up into small sections and creating some worn patches and holes in some of the smaller pieces. Then I played around with the pieces, overlapping and layering them to create a large patchwork rectangle. At this stage I used pins to hold it all together before I started stitching. It occurred to me that it might have been wiser to lay out the pieces on fusible interfacing and then iron, which would have held most of the pieces in place, but I didn’t think of this until too late and it may well have made stitching harder as some areas were already fairly thick.
Next it was simply a case of making lines of running stitch through all the layers to hold everything together and reinforce the fabric. I didn’t mark out the lines as I wanted there to be natural variations and wobbles. It was a straightforward, meditative activity, that could be picked up in front of the telly in the evenings and put down just as easily, but it wasn’t quick.
At this point I ironed on some lightweight interfacing and then folded the rectangle in half seaming down both sides and pinching the corners to create a boxed tote bag shape. There is a great tutorial for making a similar bag shape here.
I added a recessed zip…
…and a yellow cotton lining with one internal zipped pocket for keys and a wallet.
For the handles I envisaged a crisp leather strap, but in keeping with the spirit of the project I reused an old strap from a long worn out bag. This means there are buckle holes where there shouldn’t be and one strap is pieced together from separate parts, but they work just as well as new handles would have and didn’t cost anything.
H had been making eyes at my new bag but this one is just for me.