Messenger Bag created using fabric panel from Chocolate Baroque

AW Bag Front 1

Good morning. I was so excited about the launch of the new fabric panels from Chocolate Baroque – enlarged images from my favourite stamp company printed onto fabric ready to paint and stitch – yay!

I have been working on a bag design big enough to carry A4 folders plus craft stash for when I am out & about. The large bag flap was a perfect place to feature the Katya panel. You could create similar using a commercial bag pattern (messenger style or tote), or by applying the panel to a ready made bag front.

I have used fabric painting, stamping, applique of stamped images, stencilling, machine and hand embroidery – but don’t despair if you are a non stitcher. I have included an idea for decorating a ready made tote bag with no stitching involved. The panels are also fabulous to use in mixed media projects such as book covers or canvases too – just stick it down with some gel mat medium or book binding glue. Then add stamping and embellish as for other mixed media work.

Materials used:

  • Printed fabric panels (3 Ladies)
  • Stamp sets: Take It or Leaf It, Large Crackle Background, Artistic Affirmations, Harlequin Rose, Bold Blooms
  • Stencils: Silhouette Palace 1 and Silhouette Palace 2
  • Range of fabric paints from my stash – all fixed by ironing: silk paints (fluid), transparent and opaque fabric paints plus multi surface paints (off white, cream, red, orange, yellow, blue, turquoise, pink, purple, metallic pink/purple, transparent pearl and green glitter)
  • 3D fabric paint (pearl green) – such as Appliglue or similar
  • Alcohol ink pens (yellow, turquoise, pink, green)
  • Archival Inkpad (Jet Black)
  • Tonertex foiling fabric glue and foil (gold)
  • Cotton quilting fabric scraps for applique (white, purple, lilac, cerise, plus waste strips of printed batik)
  • Cotton fabric (black) for backing and framing panel
  • Machine embroidery threads (black, variegated pink/blue plus green/orange)
  • Hand embroidery threads: Stranded cotton (variegated pink/purple and orange/yellow), Pearl 5 cotton (variegated blue/green/turquoise)
  • Iron on paper backed glue mesh (such as Bondaweb or similar) and Fray Check Glue
  • Paint brush and Cut-N-Dry Foam
  • For making the bag I also used: sewing thread, heavy weight cotton fabric (blue), light weight linen patterned fabrics for lining (blue & cream), plastic sink drainer (for base), Bosal foam stabiliser (one side iron on), bag feet and magnetic clasps (silver colour), zipper (blue), shoulder strap (recycled from old bag)

How it was done:

I first made a lining using my heavy weight cotton and linen printed fabrics. I wanted a heavy weight long lasting lining so layered my fabrics and treated as one layer. I also included plenty of pockets. I haven’t included details of my pattern here – sorry – but it’s something I am working on for my own business. You could choose a commercial pattern for a messenger bag with a large front flap to decorate, or a tote style bag to feature the panel.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 1

I painted the Katya panel using transparent coloured paints so as not to obliterate the black outlines.

Fabric paints designed for light coloured fabrics are best suitable. Opaque colours (designed for dark fabrics) would obliterate the printing so you need to bear this in mind. I also used some paints designed for multi surfaces (including fabrics). These can sometimes leave a stiffer finish than those specifically designed for fabric. However, for a bag this can actually be a bonus and it is not essential to keep a soft fabric feel. If you are not intending to wash your fabrics then you can use just about anything that you would use on paper. However, I would recommend heat fixable paints for a bag as you don’t want colours to transfer from the bag or run if caught in the rain! Painting was fixed by ironing.

Tip: I like to leave my fabric painting overnight before heat fixing with an iron (follow the manufacturer’s directions). The panel is silk/cotton so can be ironed using a cotton setting safely. I usually iron from the back.

I did test the panel for compatibility with alcohol markers and found that if over wet and rubbed with alcohol the printing did bleed slightly so I would avoid these, or use with care (i.e. without flooding close to the printing).

AW Katya Fabric Panel 1a

I then applied some of the Tonertex glue, left to ‘dry’ (goes tacky as dries clear) and applied gold foil to elements of her headdress.

If you are not a sewer you could stop at this stage. As with card making the panel benefits from ‘mat & layering’. Black fabric provides a nice frame. You could back the fabrics with fusible web and iron onto a ready made bag. Heat fusible webbing does not always provide a strong hard wearing bond so gel mat medium, book binding glue or a fabric decoupage glue could be used to prevent the panel lifting off or fraying with extensive use. There are also several types of 3D paint that could be applied around the fabric edges too (e.g. Appliglue).

AW Katya Fabric Panel 2

I found some lovely strips of batik fabric in my ‘waste’ scraps bag (I knew that they were too nice to bin – ha ha) so I had to include them in my bag panel design. Nothing was stuck down yet.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 3

Next I stamped various colour fabric scraps to use as applique elements, using an Archival Inkpad. The images were dried and then heat set with an iron. Colour was then added using alcohol ink pens. Again colours were heat set.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 4

Fusible web was applied to the back to prevent fraying and the stamped and coloured images were cut out.

AW Fabric Paints 1

When stamping with paints I prefer to apply them to my stamps using Cut-N-Dry Foam. I find that it gives a more even application with less clogging of the stamp than brushing or using kitchen sponges etc. In addition if placed paint side down in a plastic tray (recycled) they stay wet for longer. This is particularly so for multi purpose paints that can dry out very quickly. I also spritz the tray lightly with water to help keep them wet while working.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 5

The fabric background was first coloured using the fluid silk paints (they are like an ‘ink’ formulation rather than thicker paint) – encouraging them to bleed and blend with a light water spritz. As with card making I tried to create a darker blended edge to frame the scene.

Next the bag panel was stamped and stencilled. The applique elements and panel were ironed down (using the fusible web backing). I used the border stamp across the top edge and lovely crackle stamp in the background. I had to add a little bling with the metallic colour too (you know me! – ha ha).

Tip: Stamping onto a darker fabric you will need to use darker or more opaque paints (or they won’t show up). Metallics work well too.

I added some 3D glue ‘pearls’ to Katya’s headdress and overlayed some areas with transparent pearl paint for extra shimmer. I also added glitter paint to some areas. Simply wasn’t enough bling already.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 6

The panel was backed with foam stabiliser before embroidery (I wanted a quilted effect). I stitched down the panel and fabric strips and then used free machine embroidery to stitch down and decorate the applique. Hand stitching was added for additional texture.

Note: The fusible web backing does help prevent fraying but some areas may benefit from a little Fray Check along the fabric edges (e.g. my batik strips were not backed with webbing before stitching down so are likely to fray with wear).

AW Katya Fabric Panel 6a

Detail showing stencilling, stamping and embroidery.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 6b

I used free machine embroidery and black thread around the applique motifs, then further embellished with hand embroidery. The stamped smaller flowers were free machined with variegated thread.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 6c

Here you can see the stencilled palace with additional hand embroidery to highlight.

AW Bag Back 1

The back panel was also decorated.

AW Bag Back 1a

Love this sentiment stamp – describes me perfectly.

AW Bag Back 2

So happy with my decorated bag (back).

AW Bag inner front 1

The pockets on the front panel were also decorated (sits under the front flap).

AW Bag inner front 1a

Detail – love this sentiment too.

AW Bag inner front 2

The finished pockets with magnetic snap closures (to hold down the front flap).

AW Bag Sides 1

I also decorated the little side pockets.

AW Bag Sides 2

AW Bag Sides 3

Texture added with hand embroidery.

AW Katya Fabric Panel 6d

Here you can see a little more detail of the free machining and hand embroidery on the main Katya panel.

AW Bag Front 1

I hope that you have enjoyed my latest creation.

Hope to be back with more soon, Anne xxx.

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