Have you seen Alison’s gorgeous back-tack ensemble? Or Diana’s? Or Stephanie’s? When I started seeing posts about finished back-tack projects, I was motivated to stop thinking about mine and actually get started.
I’ve been admiring the bags in this book. [I’ll post images tomorrow.] I’m always on the lookout for the perfect bag, which in my mind has Tardis-like qualities. Small or svelte, but surprisingly roomy on the inside. I decided to make something that fits a file folder, a magazine or a book and the other usual occupants of an everyday bag. At first, I planned on using a French linen tea-towel, but ended up deciding on a upholstery linen and red twill. Clearly, exposure to Japanese craft books has heavily influenced my aesthetic: this, this and this are frighteningly similar to the bag I came up with.
My person indicated that she’d like to try tatting, which looks to be an easily transportable craft. So included in the bag is a little pouch containing a shuttle, some thread and a pincushion.
I decided that I needed some expert advice on my project, so I headed over to my mother’s house. Asking my mother for craft advice is like heading over to Andre and Steffi’s place for some pointers on your topspin lob. She is a crafting genius. Also, she has all the technology one could ever need: an iron and a functional ironing board for starters. [Me, using a Rajah pressing cloth for the first time: This is really great! Mum: I’ll buy you one Me: Don’t worry, I don’t have an iron yet.]
Using a linen fabric that easily frays? Not to worry: she has a special machine foot with a little brush that keeps the threads in line. Have a vague idea that perhaps that same linen should be backed with interfacing? No problem: she has a special feather-weight iron-on kind that doesn’t crease or make the fabric too stiff.
As I fussed about with a paper model (Mum's idea), she read through some instructions I’d printed off Craftster about making a zippered pouch. No, she says, this doesn’t seem right. So she pulls out some lovely scraps and makes one up. All wrong, she decides (and I concur.) This kind of defeat spurs her into action. Within hours she’s redesigned the pouch, with French seams and nifty little inserts over the zip ends. Meanwhile, I’m over the lightbox tracing out the embroidery patterns that will be couched onto the bag and pouch. With an indelible pen! Lips pursed, I start to think I’m in over my head.
I hadn’t thought much about the couching. I’d seen it done, and like the look of it. I was thrilled to find that the vintage linen thread I bought from the Button Lady a while back was the perfect colour and weight. Mum had some pointers, making me nervous by beginning sentences “If Jane Nicholas [her teacher] was doing this…..” Author of this book, Jane Nicholas embroiders the most intricate beetles imaginable under high-powered magnification. Let’s just say, a more appropriate sentence would begin “If Jane Nicholas’ eight year-old were doing this…” I wanted the lettering to look like the script in my primary school cursive writing workbooks. Surprisingly, couching is really fun, and easy. (It is! I promise you!)
Alice has received the bag in New Haven, CT. My mother, coach, teacher and advisor is still mulling over possible improvements for pouch #2, and more than once has woken in the night with conceptual breakthroughs. Isaac, still uncertain about the concept, has started referring to the “bag competition.” I’m imagining future bags, and couching on clothes and curtains and upholstery. Thank you to Alison and Nicole for organizing back-tack II: I finished something I’m sure I’d have given up on if I hadn’t had both a deadline and a fellow crafter in mind, and it’s made me want to tat too.