I made this bag a little while ago but thought that I would share. A friend gave me a lovely fabric pattern book of samples containing beautiful embroidered vintage silks from Lyon (c 1960’s ?).
Stunning fabric samples but how was I going to use lots of smaller offcuts? I decided to create a patchwork bag. I hope that you like it.
Firstly I cut out 22 X 4.5 inch squares using a quilting ruler and rotary cutter. Every square was a different combination of background and embroidery colour, many with a cream background and others with a variety of pastel colours. The embroidery also varied from pastel shades through to intense browns, greys and purples. I laid them all out to decide how best to combine them together. I also decided to alternate the embroidered flower orientation – just thought it looked better.
Next I joined rows of the squares stitching with a quarter inch seam allowance, creating 4 inch finished patchworked square blocks. I stitched them on my overlocker to ensure that the seams were well finished and edges enclosed. Silk can fray easily and I needed it to be hard wearing for a bag. Many domestic sewing machines will also have a version of an overlock stitch for finishing the seams.
Looking at the picture I joined the top left squares to create a row of 2 blocks. Working down from the top left I then stitched a row of 4 squares, then 2 rows of 5 squares, another row of 4, and finally a row of 2 squares from the bottom right. Next I joined the rows lining up the seams to ensure neat aligned junctions where the points of the squares join.
To make the patchwork fabric more robust and stable to function as a bag I then pinned it to some cotton curtain interlining (think it is called cotton bump) and added quilting. I used a variegated embroidery rayon and quilted swirling contour patterns following the outline shape of the embroidered elements. To achieve this I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and used free machine embroidery/quilting with a fine polyester thread in my bobbin.
On the upper left of the pic is a sneak peak of some other embroidered fabric samples in my stash – I really must make something with them soon.
Quilting around the embroidered elements made them puff up slightly. This then gave me the idea to accentuate this. I made small snips in the backing fabric and stuffed the back of the embroidered flowers with a little polyester stuffing. I then hand stitched the holes with herringbone stitch to hold in the stuffing. Finally I trimmed away the excess cotton bump from the edges.
I made a quilted lining in cream fabric to match the shape of the front fabric. I added some pockets for the inside.
I sewed small leftover blocks of fabric together to create the handles, 2 inches wide by approx. 20 inches long. Again I quilted these using cotton bump as a backing. I cut strips of lining to match and stitched them together with right sides facing, and turned them through (finished size 1.5 inch X approx. 20 inch).
The construction of the bag is not what you might expect. I got the idea from a lovely book by Sue Hawkins (Heavenly Handmade Bags 2006). Looking at the picture: First join edges A together, again with a quarter inch seam, repeating for each bag side. This forms the base of the bag. Then join D to D leaving block edge E free. Finally join B to B, and C to C – stitch across as one seam. Repeat on each side. You now have the bag shape.
I constructed my lining shape in a similar way but left one of the A to A sections unstitched. With right sides together and handles in position at the points on the bag top I then stitched the bag and lining together and turned through the gap left in the lining. The gap was then hand sewn using a ladder stitch (so not visible).
I was delighted with my bag and being able to show off those lovely vintage fabrics.