Saturday, July 19, 2008

Starry Starry Night Bag

This is my entry in the Robert Kaufman "Anything Goes" bag contest. both sides are pleated, smocked, embroidered, and shirred. Each side is unique. The bag was launched from Vogue 7701 OOP.
I will go thru the construction over a few posts, starting with where I started, the pleating.
EACH side of the bag (11 inches) squeezes in a full 45 inch width of 100% cotton fabric from Kaufman. Kaufman is known for its fabulous prints. I chose to use a more subdued smaller print in order to not compete with the embroidery planned.

I cut two widths of fabric, the full 45 inches and about 3 inches wider than my "stay, " the stay being based on the bag front and back. A mechanical pencil was used to mark a line the full width and down the exact center of each panel. I knew how many rows of pleating I wanted and that they would be half pleats. Needles were inserted, threaded with quilting thread, and the fabric rolled onto the dowel.
I measured the distance of all the needles and divided by two to find the center. This was temporarily marked with a big headed pin.

The fabric was fed into the pleater off of the dowel, with the pencil line lining up perfectly with the notch in the bar where the pin had been. Care needed to be taken to continue feeding this pencil line right down the center of the group of needles. This insured that the fabric on either side of the pleats would be of equal size.
Here you can see the fabric pleating thru and the pencil line down the center of the pleats, wrong side. My pleater pleats equal stitches on right or wrong side of the fabric. Many don't so care must be taken here if yours doesn't. In that case I think I would baste down the center line in a contrasting color and use that to follow from the right side. My smocking buddies pretty much know all of this but for those who don't smock but love to sew, this can look pretty intriguing.

Next came the smocking. I did two intertwining rows of wheat stitch. I love this stitch but do get frustrated at how the stitch can open as it climbs the pleats and then tightens as it descends the pleats, or is it vice versa? Actually, it is both. One side is a stem stitch, the other an outline stitch, and they both do it. Then came a meandering trellis/ cable combo in medium blue across the pleats as well. This was all quite free form, as you can probably tell. After the smocking was done I stitched little stars out of copper colored holographic thread all over. The same was also done with some gold metallic thread. They were my background stars. Then came my tiny shooting stars. These were flat gold sequins with a floss bullion trailing from the hole in the center. In the center was a french knot of the same metallic gold. Once the shooting stars were done, it was time to do bigger stars. This was where the "free form" really set in. I know these are not the perfect bullion roses of heirloom smocking. That's not what I was going for here. I WANTED EXPLODING STARS. I just did whatever my needle told me to do, combining french knots, bullions, straight stitch to varying degrees. I even did a "frizzled" bullion for my brightest star on one side. The threads were loose and curled into tiny banana curls. The center was french knots. It was all great fun trying to get each different and starlike. I just continued this way until I felt it was done. The camera does not seem to show all the embroidery like you can see it in person. It seems much more heavily embroidered IRL. I think it is the way the light bounces off the metallic and holographic thread. With the embroidery completed, construction can finally begin and I will tackle that in tomorrow's post.....Bunny


  1. You've got my vote! Lovely, lovely, lovely.

  2. Beautiful purse, you get my vote, too.

  3. Thanks so much. Such nice comments from my sewing peers are always appreciated

  4. WOW that is beautiful!!!!!! My vote too!

  5. Your smocking, attention to detail and incredible design looks wonderful. I just sat down at my pc to soothe the angry beast inside me while making my third attemp at a muslin for a simple jacket. Reading about the detail you had to make such an exquitsite bag helped soothe me. Thank you.

  6. How absolutely beautiful. A perfect balance of design/scale/color, meticulously executed. If you don't win I'll be very surprised. Congratulations!

  7. (Blush). I am sure there will be stiff competition in this contest as I have seen it talked up on many of the bag blogs.

  8. Wow! Amazing job on your work-of-art purse! I love the purse, and I certainly enjoyed reading your blog entry about its creative construction!


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