Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Asian Baby Bag

My latest bag design is finally in the hands of my little sister. Happy Birthday Anita!
This bag was made using scraps from a baby quilt I made last year, Japanese antique kimono material, Shikoku hand woven material and my boss’ old pair of jeans. For the front of the bag I used a pattern called “Orange Peel” to put together these various scraps into pretty flower shapes. Alternating between dark colored circles and light colored circles I think the busy patterns of the fabric work well together.

Making the orange peel pattern was really tricky because of all the curves. The material I used was also not the easiest to turn into beautiful arcs, instead I struggled using a mix of a roulette to first make a curved crease, as well as appliqué glue. Where the various circles came together, most of the seams met beautifully, but I was worried with the type of material I used that there might be some fraying of the seams. I should have made a wider sewing allowance especially with the loosely woven materials. In order to reinforce these weak areas, I put covered buttons at all the junctions. In the end this helps to unite the front of the bag with the back of the bag. The front of the bag was all hand quilted with tiny stitches, echoing the curves of each petal.

I used the bum side of the jeans for the back of the bag. I figured that the pockets would be fun to use for the bag. First, the jeans had to be taken apart, and resewn so that the pockets were straight and functional. Using a pair of well-used jeans gives the bag a very soft feel, and drapes comfortably on your body when you wear the bag. The appliquéd butterflies were made from scraps from the front of the bag to cover some thin areas in the material of the jeans. Also, I thought that Rowan (my sister's daughter) would like to look at some butterflies on her mama’s bag.

I quilted the denim using my handy dandy sewing machine. Sounds easy, but since the material is so thick and bulky the machine revolted and often bunched up. My teacher recommended that I use her free motion machine to quilt the top of the denim, so I jumped on the idea and sat down at her machine only to produce a mess of neither straight nor curved lines of sewing. What a disaster! I took it all out and hand stitched little flowers instead at the top of the bag. Putting the bag together was also a real pain. The thick layers of denim, batting, and scrap material were way to thick and awkward to sew together by machine. Instead I had to painfully sew the bag together one stitch at a time using a thick needle and brute force. I promised myself that I would never make another bag using denim.

I made a matching cell phone/glasses case that attaches to the bag in a clever way using the belt loops from the waistband of the jeans. The material I used for the case was a scrap of beautiful antique material called Aizome, which is a blue indigo dyed material made in Japan. I love this little scrap of material, and cutting into it was really hard. Since the material was a little thin and worn, I first reinforced the material with an iron-on material especially made for reinforcing thin material, and then hand quilted the case following the pattern of the material. I love this little pouch, although it makes the bag not fully reversible, as you most likely want this accessory to appear at the front of your body as opposed to along your back.

The inside of the bag is lined with a deep scarlet red cotton material. My sewing teacher was not very fond of my choice, but I think it’s great. I love how when you open the bag it seems like you are entering the body cavity of the bag. The outside of the bag is so busy that I think that a solid color works best. In the lining I put a zippered pocket and a convenient key fob to make finding your keys a little easier (I personally think this is the best part of the bag).

There you have it, a handy dandy bag made from beautiful scraps. Happy Birthday Anita!
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