Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Handiwork Bag

I have always admired the achingly beautiful "handiwork" and presentation bags from the Tudor and Stuart periods of English embroidery. They both have the same basic square design with draw strings and tassels.

The handiwork bags were meant to hold embroidery implements, supplies and unfinished projects. The bags themselves were embroidered by their owners. The presentation bags were the same format but they were much more elaborate. They were intended to contain an equally valuable gift, for example, a pair of exquisitely stitched and embellished gauntlet style gloves, which were a popular and symbolic present in 17th century England.

So I set out to make a 21st century version of these stunning bags. I began with a simple square of the Coleus fabric surrounded by strips of the Sprigs fabric, both from the Sunshine & Shadow line for FreeSpirit. I made two of these, one for each side. Then after adding batting and a white backing, I quilted two rows of heavy white stitching with 12 weight threads to add a little glow of light.

Then I quilted wavy lines with the feather stitch, also using 12 weight threads. I think these rows help to blend the fabrics together. Then  I hand stitched random flat sequins, a relaxing evening activity. This is another idea borrowed from the embroidery of the 1600's. I just sequined one side for show and left the other side unadorned so it could rest comfortably next to the body.

Although this bag is too substantial for draw strings to be very effective, I added them as a decorative element. They are strung through loops of gross grain ribbon. This was also a wonderful excuse to add more tassels! The tassels were made with DMC pearl cotton and my favorite felt beads from the Art Girlz.

A zipper was added for security and finished with more felt beads. The ribbon loops are continued inside the bag and turned out to be perfect for storing your knitting needles, which also help to stablize the bag.

I chose a light Sprigs fabric for the lining, so it will be easy to find what you are looking for inside. There is a wide shoulder strap for portability. I think this bag looks nice enough to hang on the wall! It would make a handsome throw pillow, as well!

Also note that Craftcast with Alison Lee has just posted our podcast interview. I am a fan of several craft podcasts, which I listen to at the gym... makes working out easier to bear! I especially like Craftcast because her guests are accomplished fine craftsmen and women. You can download the shows or simply listen on demand. I know you will find lots to explore on her site.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pastel Productions

This has been a remarkable week of weather. It started like spring and ended like summer. No coat or heavy socks required and no time to adjust your body to so much heat. But that heat created comfortable evenings for unwinding and enjoying all the new buds and blossoms.

Greg burned our prairie and has begun to rake up the heavy layer of oaks leaves to reveal the anemic and energetic little sprouts below. The first daffodils opened yesterday and the Sandhill Crains are back exploring the cropped cornfields and waterways.

The kids were here for the weekend and Willow was in a frenzy of pillowcase production in preparation for her booth at a school May Fair. She decided to use lots of the pastel dots (blue, pink, green and yellow) from the Sunshine & Shadow line. They are perfect for childrens accessories and very refreshing and gentle colors for spring.

Staying with the pastel Sunshine & Shadow theme, here is a clever package for storing your knitting needles made by Melissa Peda, the owner of the One Hundred Billion Stars Etsy shop. The best part of the design is the extra flap at the top which keeps the needles from slipping out. Notice that she has reversed the fabrics on both sides of the flap to create contrast. 

For the outside she picked the coordinating Jack-in-the-Pulpit fabric and a double button to secure the purple gross grain ribbon. The whole parcel rolls into a slim portable bundle. A glorious display of pretty  pastels for your Easter crafting basket.

Willow is the knitter in our family and always has a project in the works. She admired this needlecase so much that she adopted it as her own! 

Jazz up your Easter Bonnet with this Yo-Yo Brooch, another cute idea from Melissa. I used to make fun of yo-yos, because they were so "old-fashioned". But they have renewed potential in the new crafty world. Happy Holidays to all!