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Purse contest entry # 2

I wrote previously that I was entering a bag or two in a contest. In this series I will go through the design decisions I made when creating the bags.

The contest specified that I needed to use the fabric they had for sale. The first bag I created was a garment bag. The contest rules stated that I could create as many bags as I wanted to. So all that was limiting me was the fabric I had left.

For the first bag I embroidered something on every image printed on the fabric. While I sewed on it I would occasionally show Wood what I had done. There were times when he would ask me to show him the back of the fabric before the front so that he could tell where I had done work. I liked the outline with the muted colors on the back.

For the second bag I decided to use just one of my favorite images from the fabric. I decided to mute the colors by putting white sport nylon over the fabric, then embroidering it.

I cut out an image of poppies from the fabric. I found fabric that was very close in color to the background of the original fabric and sewed that around my image. That took several steps since I couldn't use a square outline. Once done I used fused a quilt batt (Pelion fusible fleece) to the fabric. Finally I cut sport nylon to fit the same shape.

For those who haven't used sport nylon, it stands up to wear really well, is slick, but ravels really easily. Since I would be handling the fabric a lot I needed to do something to prevent my project from coming apart in my hands - literally. I used my sewing machine to zigzag around the edges of the fabric, preventing raveling, and binding them together at the same time.

I had already found embroidery floss that matched the colors of the image, so I started embroidering. As I started I thought carefully about how to anchor the floss to the fabric. A knot is often used in embroidery, but that would leave a lump. If I am to sell this item later on I don't want any perceived imperfections. I didn't want to bury the ends just anywhere on the back - the fabrics were light enough that something could show through. So I carefully buried the ends of the embroidery floss along the edge of the image, where I would be sewing later on.

Once I finished embroidering the outline of the image, I needed to develop a purse pattern. I decided to make it a messenger bag, with an adjustable strap and a flap to close it. The embroidered fabric would go on the flap.The rest of the outer purse body would have the remaining poppy images on the front and back panels, but without embroidery. I wanted the embroidery on the flap to be the star.

All this time I had been thinking about the fabrics for the shoulder strap. I didn't want to use the sport nylon on the underside of the strap as that would allow it to slip off the shoulder easily. While wandering around the local big ox fabric store I found some interesting fabric in the baby section. The usual outer side of the fabric was white, so that would coordinate with the other fabrics. But that wasn't the side I was interested in. The "under" side of the fabric was waterproof - the fabric was meant to cover diapers. The underside was not slick, and should do well on my shoulder strap.

Being for a cojtest, I got to thinking that the shoulder strap was a bit boring. So before I added the sport nylon, I added a vine motif, with two small, strategically placed flowers, similar to the printed ones. After I added the sport nylon I embroidered the outline of the two coordinating flowers.

I didn't forget the interior of the bag. I chose fabric in colors that coordinate with the colors of the inspiration fabric, in a polka dot print. I added several pockets since I didn't have a way of including any into the design on the outside.

Looking back at all I've written, I see that there is no wonder that making a one of a kind purse takes so much time, there are so many different decisions to make along the way. At least I'm learning, if nothing else.

We will be notified after December 1st whether they have accepted any of my items into the juried contest.

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