Anyway, quick recap - this bag was inspired by a wonderful Gorman bag that my friend Tamar bought. It was one of my very first inspired 'I-can-make-my-own' moments. All of the materials (except the sewing and embroidery threads were purchased at the op shop).
The finished product:
Hmm, two and a bit years of (very sporadic) work. It has taken a long time but a lot of thought has gone into it and that has been a great creative process. I particularly like the branching effect that I achieved on the foliage using the raglan shaping from a green cotton knit.
I also put a lot of thought into the outline stitches around the trunk and foliage, varying the length and density of the stitches to create some sense of depth and to accentuate the shapes.
Another thing that I really like about this bag, and which I think is a genius idea (not mine unfortunately), is that I lined it with a completed needlepoint canvas. I'm sure that you've seen plenty of half-completed needlework projects around the op shops/thrift stores - well, they make for a really good lining and add a bit of interest and colour.
I actually ended up using a completed needlepoint canvas (fully framed and all - I felt a bit sad removing it from the frame but hey, it was at the op shop, and I re-donated the frame) so it was, alas, quite expensive. But, it is a gloriously kitsch flamenco dancer image in full swing so I love it. The idea actually came out of a great book called Second-Time Cool: the art of chopping up a sweater. This is a fabulous book (I've even actually read it) with plenty of other great ideas in it and I will devote a post to it shortly.
And then there are the birdies, the five lovely birdies that took me so long to make because I wanted each of them to be special and individual and that was a real obstacle to actually getting down to work on them. I am also no great embroiderer, it is one of my 'do-as-necessary' crafts so the actual thinking up of an embroidery scheme for each bird took some time. They are all done using a metallic purple, a metallic red and a blue embroidery floss and I had a lot of fun mixing up the strands.
I know that Tamar for one is asking, 'what about the handles?' I had found an embroidered leather belt at the op shop one day when shopping with her that was just right, too right in fact. It just matched too well and besides, this is a bag that needs two separate handles, not just a single strap. So I am going to keep looking for just the handles that I want and call the actual bag construction and embroidery complete.