Having decided on chenille quilting as the technique and a square as the shape of the bag, the pattern was determined by folding a piece of A4 paper into a square and using the offcut as the side and base panels. I then made a mock up with paper and sellotape to ensure that the size would work and worked out the stitching design on graph paper. The main panels are approximately 8” square and identical.
Originally, I had thought about using a navy/blue colourway but I soon changed my mind once I sorted my fabrics out and came across the gorgeous slightly sparkle cerise fabric that I purchased at Alexander Palace several years ago. I had been saving it for something special and this was just the project. In addition, the predominant colours (cerise and lime) in the bag are just the same as some of the plants in my garden right now. Each chenilled panel comprises 6 layers of fabric (some hand dyed) - (from bottom to top) cerise, orange and yellow through to lime.
I had been thinking about some linear surface decoration (a small amount of stitching/beading in the cerise colourway) on the uncut channels but, having seen the results of the cut panels after washing and tumble drying, I very much liked the surface texture and contrast of the uncut channels against the cut edges of the other lines - see close up photograph - so decided to leave as it was.
The bias binding and handle tabs were cut from the same cerise fabric as the bottom layer of the quilting pile and each panel was bound separately before being hand stitched together to form the shell of the bag. The lining (tonal yellow fabric) was made separately with each panel (a quarter of an inch smaller than the washed and dried outer panels) being constructed separately, hand stitched together and then placed into the outer bag before being slip stitched into place around the top. Small squares of craft vilene were covered with fabrics and stitched into place in the central squares to give a little contrast. The bamboo handles were purchased from Hobbycraft earlier in the year with no specific project in mind - my husband reminded me about them and this was just the opportunity to use them. I think they work really well..
Although I have tried to ensure that the rigidity of the panels (layers of pelmet Vilene & insertion of plastic canvas) will help the bag to keep it's shape, this bag is not designed for everyday use but for occasions when something a bit more special is appropriate.
The tabs for the handle findings looked a little long so I have taken the bag apart and made them a bit shorter which I think looks better.
I have made a couple of felted bags in the past but this is my first “fabric” bag and I am quite pleased with it. The finished article has inspired me to do more bags and I have another on the go though it won’t be ready in time for entry into the competition as there is quite a lot of hand stitching on the front panel and I have yet to decide on the finishing/handles etc..