Saturday, November 21, 2015

Finished: Starry Night Project Bag

As mentioned previously, I took up the challenge to make items for the October 2015 Geek and Nerd Swap, and was assigned to find ways to interpret Gothic architecture and Impressionist paintings into handcrafts.  A knitted scarf took care of the Gothic side of things, so Impressionism was to be the inspiration for another handcraft.

I should point out that the specifications for the swap do not include two handmades.  A swap package is to include one handmade item, one fiber arts item (such as yarn or stitch markers), an edible goody, and a non-edible goody.  I like making two handmades because I sew as well as knit and crochet, and I think a handmade project bag, notion pouch, or needle case is an excellent way to translate a theme into a beautiful, useful item.

So I spent time staring at pictures of Van Gogh's "Starry Night," my swap partner's favorite painting, and sketched out the major elements of the image: the exaggerated moon, the hilly landscape, the church tower, and the swirling winds.  I then looked up the dimensions of the bags produced in this tutorial, and converted my sketches into panels of the correct dimensions on parchment paper.

I used the foundation paper piecing technique to make all the panels, and a few extra because I messed up.  It is important to completely cover the paper in fabric, but I misjudged on this guy.  You also have to reverse the image right-left for foundation piecing, and I messed up one of the panels that was as well.  I called those ones extra practice.

Once all the panels were made, I sewed them together, slapped them down on some batting, and added edging strips that would become the bottom and top of the bag.  These seams effectively basted the batting in place.  You can see below the hills and the church tower in the panels, as well as the yellow square that will be the base of the moon; the batting was later trimmed so it only backed the patchwork.
For the moon and the wind, I found some embroidery floss (a multicolor yellow and white for the moon, a blend of two strands purple and one blue for the wind) and did something like big stitch quilting to add those details, as well as hold the batting firmly in place.

Once done with the hand-sewing, I finished the bag more or less according to the tutorial.  The batting makes the sides strong enough to stand up on their own, and I did iron some interfacing onto the bottom to make it a bit sturdier.  I also made two drawstrings, as I feel pulling from each side makes the bag close better.
Not bad for my first foray into fancy piecing and hand-quilting, and I think it produced a lovely and sturdy project bag.  I should make myself one.

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