Sunday, 22 April 2012

Chapter 12 - SAMPLES

The reverse of the bag is to be a mirror image of the front. I tested out the piecing of the curved seams with some commercially printed fabrics. (The finished bag will be made from hand dyed and decorated fabrics.) I couldn’t decide whether to face the seams inwards or outwards, so I experimented with both on the sample piece. This didn’t help very much as I liked both options! However I did notice that the white fabric appeared to dominate where the seams faced inwards, and the black fabric appeared to dominate where the seams faced outwards.

I tried top-stitching either side of the inward facing seams, with a decorate stitch, but was not happy with this. (The finished bag is to have a lot of decorative stitching within the patchwork panels.)

I cut the ‘black’ and ‘white’ panels from patched fabrics including a 1cm seam allowance. The exposed seams looked much better when I trimmed them down to 0.5cm. I decided to opt for this.

Another factor to decide upon was the interlining. Pelmet Vilene or quilters batting? My original idea was for a casual, heavily textured, tactile bag, so I opted for the quilters batting. The pelmet Vilene would have resulted in a more rigid bag which is not what I wanted. I quilted my sample bag panel to the batting by stitching ‘in the ditch’, following the black & white seams. For the inwards facing seams I used a walking foot attachment, however, the exposed seams were more difficult to stitch. I tried using a darning foot, but eventually found the zipper foot to be the easiest as I was able to ease this underneath the exposed seam and stitch closely to the joining seam of the black & the white panels.

As the last panel on both the left and the right side of the bag is ‘white’ (and also taking into consideration the fact that I want the bag to be heavily textural), I will make the gusset from black heavily textured fabric as in the ‘black’ panels on the front and back of the bag. The gusset would need to be joined to the bag using exposed seams to coincide with the seams on the front and back of the bag. Consideration will need to be given to the batting at this point. It will probably need to be cut away from the seam prior to stitching. The gusset pattern will need to be extended by about 3cm at either end in order to attach the link for the bag handle/strap.


The lining is to be made from a hand dyed cotton shibori fabric. I have decided upon the hand stitched circles as this offers an interesting contrast to the stripes on the outside. It is a tedious, time consuming design, but well worth the effort I think. The lining will be made up separately from the bag and machine stitched around the top of the bag, leaving an opening in the lining for turning.

I have experimented with various materials for the handle links. I have made the rectangular shapes from (top to bottom) silver painted mdf, fimo, friendly plastic, and cardboard, wrapped with silver faux leather. I found the slightly irregular, hand-made quality of the ‘friendly plastic’ link to be the most pleasing and in keeping with the rough, frayed effect of the bag design. The test piece was made in blue/green plastic as this was all I had, but I have obtained some silver plastic for the finished bag.


I made a small strip to test the bag handle and the fastening strap. This worked well using the quilters batting as it gave stability to the strap without making it too rigid. I tested out the silver decoration on the end of the fastening with faux leather. This would probably have been better trimmed after stitching. Although I glued it in place first, it still moved slightly and exposed the fabric underneath on one side.

MY AIM IS TO COMPLETE THE BAG BEFORE THE END OF MAY. The basic construction should be fairly easy, but there is a lot of fabric preparation to carry out before-hand.


  1. Lovely idea Julia! The lining is beautiful and I love the way you have made your own handle links.

  2. I am so impressed by the way you've planned and designed this bag, which I know is going to turn out really well.