Monday 9 September 2013

East Meets West - Liberty Komebukuro Bag

Over the last couple of posts I've shared pics of a work in progress.  This project started a while back when Ali offered some of her beautiful Liberty fabric to anyone who would like to try out a particular idea, and I wrote asking for a Maxi Scrap Pack.  I'd been thinking for a while about a bag I wanted to make, and here it is!  (Sorry for the picture heavy post.)

My bag was inspired by an interest in Japanese textiles and embroidery (a shout-out to Cynthia who fuelled this interest with her fascinating posts from Japan).

In particular I'm interested in boro and its relationship to English crazy patchwork in the way they both aim to use scraps of fabric to make a larger piece of usable cloth.   Boro fabrics are often stitched using a large sashiko running stitch and English crazy patchwork is often embellished using a variety of decorative stitches.

I thought it would be fun to unite two cultures in a Japanese style komebukuro bag (traditionally used to carry rice) made using English crazy patchwork panels made of Liberty tana lawn.

I used some of the stitches on my new sewing machine to embellish the crazy patchwork, and running stitches in different shades of Perle 8 to quilt the 'sashing' which was made with Essex Yarn Dyed Linen.  Each side has a different colour of quilting (thanks commenters on my last post:-)

It has a cotton lining made using some Dorothy from the Liberty Bloomsbury range, which I was lucky to get in my Stitch Gathering goodie bag.

I didn't want to use it all, so I supplemented part of it with some plain cotton at the bottom.

The tabs are made of red grosgrain ribbon.

A piece of yellow ribbon pulls the tabs together.

I had difficulty photographing it in a way that does it justice and wish I had finished it at the weekend where the jewel-like colours of the Liberty would have looked lovely in this setting!

Thanks to my local B&B for the use of their garden instead:-)  Passers by on their way to the bus stop must have wondered what the idiot lying on the patio was doing.

I'm really happy with this bag and I think the Liberty goes beautifully with linen but it also teams up well with Klona, or Oakshott and I'm in the middle of making two smaller bags pairing it with different fabrics.

You'll find a tutorial for one way of making a komebukuro bag on the Oakshott website but the process I used was different and I'll post about it, and another alternative method, soon.

Thank you Ali, for the luxury of an opportunity to experiment!


  1. This looks beautiful! I love these lively colours of the liberty fabrics and how well they go together with the linen. It was clever of you not to use up all of the precious red lining. It is interesting: You have four sides!

  2. That is so beautiful - I am off now to have a go!

  3. Its a pretty bag - think I'll go and make one
    Julie xxxxxxx

  4. It is so beautiful Catherine. I agree with you that the Liberty prints pair really well with the linen. I really love the blocks that you created with the Liberty fabric. It is absolutely gorgeous.

  5. oooo - it is so pretty and practical! Well done, all that work has paid off - a lovely looking bag.

  6. So pretty! I really wish Liberty wasn't so drool inducing, my bank balance hates it!

  7. So pretty! I really wish Liberty wasn't so drool inducing, my bank balance hates it!

  8. Oh that is beautiful, and a square bag is quite different.

  9. Dare I said it but I've never been a fan of liberty......however you and Ali are converting me!
    The bag s gorgeous, I love the colours against the linen and the hand stitching looks great too.

  10. Wonderful job. Don't you find bags irresistible - I'm sure it's a kind of fetish!

    1. Thank you:-) In the past I've never been much of a bags person and these days I am almost permanently dressed in gardening clothes and mud so the few bags I have have always done for the rare bit of dressing up - but I think I have just got it!

  11. Catherine this is just gorgeous! I am pinning and Facebooking with abandon! Really lovely and am feeling inspired... :-)

  12. Libery prints are amazing in that they are so British, yet team so well with Oriental fabrics. You're bag looks great–would make a wonderful picnic hamper, or toy store, but share your anguish about photographing larger finishes. I've been known to drag my quilts over to the park, pretending I'm actually having a picnic then frantically take photos when I think no-one is watching.

  13. Lovely! Super sewing and super shots too! Thanks for telling more of the back story....

  14. Gorgeous bag! I love the way that Liberty prints look so good with neutrals, it makes them look really fresh.

  15. Wow, this bag is just so wonderful in all its detail and I'm glad you included so many photos! You have really outdone yourself. Thanks for the shout out too;).

  16. That's beautiful Catherine, I love the way that liberty fabrics work with the neutral, and I really need to try out the fancy stitches on my machine too! You've put me to shame!

  17. What a beautiful project and a fun post. I can relate to (1) wishing you have been able to photograph it in the meadow of wildflowers and (2) being the ood lady lying on the pavement for a photo.

  18. Lovely bag Catherine! I love working with linen - it is so classy and the liberty is just a perfect partner for it. Beautiful make x


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