There should be a UFO (unfinished object) month celebrated in the sewing community at least once a year.
Look what I found in my unfinished sewing archives (aka UFOs). An indigo blue 14” square, embellished with the Japanese folk embroidery called Sashiko (s-a-a-sh-i-k-o). This was a class project for Sashiko expert Nancy Shriber’s class – um, several years ago.
What does one do with a 14”, flannel backed square like this? Why, make little bags, of course! Just like the ones in Nancy’s book. Of course Nancy is a garment sewer and incorporates her exquisite Sashiko-embroidery expertise in beautiful garments. But for Sashiko-newbies like me, her book, “Sashiko Handbags, 14 on 14” (2005) gives ideas for using up those squares for little Asian inspired, folded bags. I would have loved to see actual photos of the bags rather than illustrations. Even though they’re pretty water color renditions done by Nancy’s sister. I was going to link up Nancy Shriber’s website as listed on a sticker on the book, but it cannot be found. Here’s a link to the Amazon page where you can buy the book. There’s something amiss, though because a new copy is priced at $64.93 (!!) and a used one at $59.50 on Amazon.
I decided not to add images of the book, since the author prohibits the reproduction or transmission of any part of the book.
For my square I chose to make it into bag #11 on page 47– the Folded Triangle. Here’s how it went down:
The original square was already Sashiko-ed up. I needed the backing/lining; a quick dive into le stash found flowered indigo/white Chinese cotton (brought back from China by my daughter). Since I did not have flannel for backing the lining (as the book suggests), I found the thinnest cotton batting in the stash. (What a non-quilter is doing with piles of batting in her stash is beyond me). Chinese cotton lining and the Sashiko square are then put together, ready for binding. The bias binding was created and applied. If one were looking for detailed binding instructions in this book, there are none; just a couple of paragraphs on how to cut bias strips and join them.
Now, as Nancy says, the project looks like a potholder (a 14 inch potholder). So far I’m good.
Turning the “potholder” into the illustrated bag is a bit of a head scratcher.
The first step suggested by the author is folding the square into a triangle, then sewing a line from the center of the folded edge to the corner. This creates two triangular sections. The next step in the instructions is to install two zippers in each triangle opening.
Wait, wait wait…… think ahead to how zippers will be installed in the two triangles – it will be near impossible in such a closed area, even by hand.
At this point I’m losing patience with the printed instructions, but want to make it work. So, I DO NOT sew the line down the middle after the first fold; it will be easier to install the two zippers when the piece is still a flat square. Here it is.
Not difficult, but not easy peasy either. After much folding and pondering I added the two zippers, with each zipper tape sewn to a side of the square. It turned out to be a very fiddly process. To make it more confusing, the end of the zipper needed to be turned inside – see last image above. Or you can buy a smaller zipper than the 14” recommended by the author, or cut the end of the zipper after sewing some horizontal stitches on the teeth. Well, the zippers are in, and I needed to move forward. I was now wondering if the author actually made this bag.
My next step was to make and sew in a loop with each end (of loop) on the opposite corner of the Sashiko square – on the lining side.
Now, we’re ready to sew the center seam which divides the piece into two triangles. Can you see the seam in the picture below? Done. Whew.
I then hand-sewed the bottoms together with a slip stitch. It could have been machine sewn but with 2 batting layers and 4 fabric layers, I just grabbed a hand needle and slip stitched away.
Add a little doo-dad to the loop and the bag is done. At this point, I ignored the book instructions to add an elasticized wrist loop.
Instead, I threaded the loop through my bracelet!
Now, to road test this bag. I like how it turned out. What do you think of the bag? Do you think I should have added a picture of the book illustration to compare the two, in spite of the dire warning prohibiting it?