Adding a Crochet Motif to a Favorite Bag Pattern

I often crochet different motifs when I find interesting free patterns on the internet so I can see what they look like, how difficult they are, and to try them out for future projects.  I recently came across a motif I really liked and I thought the sample I had made would look nice inserted into some sort of cloth handbag.  I did some searches for instructions for doing this, but didn’t come up with much.  The instructions are probably out there, but sometimes it can be hard to know the right words to use for searching for that sort of thing.  I’ve been thinking about the best way to go about this for the past couple of weeks and came up with the following method (which I am writing out here for myself as much as anyone, since I don’t always remember quite how I worked something out).

I started by choosing a pattern to use as a beginning place.  I have made several different versions of the 241 Tote bag from Noodlehead.  Because I like the shape and size of that bag, I decided to use that as my starting place.  The front panel is made from a pattern piece that is cut on the fold, so I drew both halves to have one flat piece to work with.  I also measured my motif (a free pattern from here) and made a paper template that was just the tiniest bit bigger and decided on placement on my flat pattern piece:

I decided I like it placed on the diagonal best, so I cut that area out of my flat pattern:

I then cut out the pattern piece from my outer fabric, interfacing as called for in the pattern and a piece of thin muslin. I traced the cut-out square directly onto the muslin, which would become my facing:

I pinned everything together really well (outer fabric, face up, with the muslin on top) and stitched directly on the line I had drawn:

I then cut out the center section of the square, clipping to the corners:

Then, I pulled the muslin facing fabric through the square to the back:

I then pressed this well and top-stitched on the right side to hold everything in place:

I then hand-sewed the motif into the opening:

I then added a backing layer, using the same outer fabric I had chosen for the bag. I zigzagged all around the outer edge so I could easily treat this as one piece while I followed the instructions to construct the rest of the bag:

I did choose to leave off any outer pockets, but I added them to the inside lining,  I discovered that in this pattern it works really well to use the outer pocket pieces inside the lining.  I chose to zigzag a little piece of elastic to gather the inside pocket a bit- it works really well to hold things like my phone, lip balm, etc:

I can’t wait to use this bag- I always like it when a project ends up working out at least a little bit like I imagined it  would :).

More Rice Resist Dyeing

I have talked about my experiments with rice resist dyeing before. I am working on some projects for a local art show where all participants will work in a 6 inch by 6 inch format.  I have had a lot of ideas for this, jotting down lots of notes and trying out different ideas.  On a whim, I decided to try some rice resist dyeing again and found it hard to stop, creating a lot of pieces to choose from.  I proceeded pretty much like before, although this time I soaked all of my base fabrics in a soda ash solution and hung them up to dry before applying my rice resist.  Some of them were dyed a couple of times before reaching this point.

Out of laziness, I decided to try an even simpler resist process.  I happened to have some brown rice flour for cooking, so decided to see how that would work.  I added 1/4 cup to 2 cups of water.  I brought it to a boil and then turned it down to a simmer, stirring the whole time for just 3-5 minutes.  I used this (and I’m sure lots of similar products would work equally well):


I like  using the rice paste hot, so when I put it into a squeeze bottle (a funnel helps with this), I had to hold it with a hot pad to apply it my fabric:

It is amazing what a zen-like state can come from applying the rice resist to fabric and just seeing where the design wants to go.  Here is one example:

I let the fabric dry in a sunny window- usually overnight was long enough.  I then mixed up some dye concentrates and mixed them with alginate thickener I had mixed up.  With each piece, I chose different colors, sometimes more, sometimes less, building them up over the fabric.  Here is a progression of colors added to one piece:

A lot of times at the end, it all looked sort of muddy like this:

At this point, I covered the piece in plastic and let it sit overnight.  My house is pretty warm right now, so I didn’t need to add any heat while the fabric batched.  I got into a routine each day of alternating steps between new pieces.  My favorite part of each day was first thing in the morning.  After doing the urgent morning chores (like taking the dog out and letting the chickens out), I would run my batching fabric under a quick rinse, squeeze it out and then scrape away the rice resist (I have been using a plastic store club card) to see the first peek at what the patterning will be like on each individual piece.  It’s never the same, and almost always surprising.  Here is a first peek at one:

After this, I give the fabrics a rinse, soaking them for awhile in cool water, and then finally washing them in hot water with textile detergent to get out any excess dye.  Now, I get to decide which sections of my pieces will be used for the show- I have one more week to get everything mounted and ready, so I made myself a deadline of today for being finished with all of my dye work.  I made a viewer I will be using to choose my 6 inch sections- it’s really high tech : )

Here are a few of my finished pieces from the past couple of weeks, waiting for me to choose my favorite sections to show:

Packing Tape Transfers with Original Images

I am in the process of working on a project, in that time when I have some general ideas but don’t know quite where it is going to go yet.  Yesterday it occurred to me that packing tape transfers might be a good addition to this project. (I posted the how-to’s of packing tape transfers awhile ago, and one way I used them.) In the past, I have used found images from magazines but for this project, I wanted to use my own.  I ‘m not sure why I haven’t thought about doing that before.  

I started with an image I had of doily I had recently crocheted:

I knew I wanted to manipulate it, but my computer is a chromebook and I don’t have access to any sort of fancy software.  I usually just use free programs and generally don’t do much more than crop images, so that works fine.  For this image, I used picmonkey and basically just clicked around on different effects until I got to this:

This was interesting, but still not quite what I wanted.  I really wanted the reverse of this.  It’s possible that picmonkey can do that, but I wasn’t able to figure out how.  I did a search for programs that would allow me to create a negative image and found the free program lunapic.  It had an option for making a negative, but I found it also had an option to create a coloring book image.  I had pretty much what I was looking for and was able to use the eraser tool to clean up some random smudges I didn’t want.  My final image looked like this:

I was able to take this image and made a sheet of doily images of different sizes.  I printed off my sheet of images on a black and white laser printer and then used them just like I used the images found in magazine pages.  Here are some of the transfers decorating the back of my chromebook:

And this is one of the images over some of my hand-dyed fabric, which is the way I ultimately want to use this technique:

I really love that this image was created from my original handwork, but is used in a completely different way. Now that I know that my little idea from yesterday works,  I’m looking forward to trying this with lots of other images to combine into some of my current projects.  So many possibilities are floating around in my head.