Mary mailed me the fish and it was such a thrill to see it in person and be able to examine all those fine stitches and see just how handsome this fish truly is. Quite handsome I tell you!
This whole fish is only about 7 inches or so long and about 4 inches or so high, so that's an awful lot of stitching in such a small space!
All the detail and imagination that went into this piece of blackwork embroidery is just amazing. And it was in my own hands! How exciting! Mary wanted the fish turned into a tote bag and she asked if I would do that for her. Since I owed her a gift from a swap, I agreed. The finished tote bag would be my gift to her.
I spent a lot of time looking at different types of fabrics and different color schemes for this tote bag, and finally landed on these batiks which I thought looked a lot like where this fish might live if he were real. The blue and greens with the blotchy coloring typical of batiks and the plant imprints were perfect for that seaweed, ocean-like, pondy kind of look.
I figured that the fish would be most comfortable in water, seeing as he is a fish and all, so the blue would be the frame for the fish and also the outside pocket of this tote bag.
The dark green would be the main body of the bag, and the lighter green would be the inside lining. I like light colored linings in my tote bags because I have this idea that it makes things easier to find. I don't know if that's really true or not, but it's my theory and I'm sticking with it.
When the time came to press the fish and decide where to cut the fabric, you can imagine just how nervous I was. This was not my own handiwork I was cutting up and if I were to mess it up in any way, that would be just the worst disaster ever and I would feel very bad about it. I could never replace this piece, so it just had to turn out well...it just HAD to! So after much fretting about how I would go about infusing this fish into this tote bag, I got to work and trimmed off all the extra linen from around the fish. I left just barely an inch of fabric around the fish, as I wanted it to look big on the tote bag and be close to the blue fabric surrounding it.
Then I cut pieces of the blue fabric and stitched them and the fish onto a piece of fusible fleece using the quilt-as-you-go method. Then I fused the whole thing together to give the pocket and the fish a bit of stability. I lined the pocket piece with another piece of the blue fabric, and made a second pocket of the same size for the opposite side of the bag using the same blue fabric. Whew! The fish was finally in place! Now all I had left to do was finish the bag!
I cut a piece of the dark green and layered it together with the two outside pockets and lined it with Peltex, which is a very stiff interfacing, which would make this bag hold its shape and stand up all by itself. I also cut the light green for the lining and made pockets similar to the outside pockets for the inside and put that all together.
The inside pockets were lined with the darker green, making that pretty little trim on the top of the pockets. I had heard that Mary likes lots of pockets, so that's why I put so many on the inside and the outside!
After adding the handles and a binding around the top of the bag, it was all finished!
I think that little fishy looks quite happy in his new home, don't you?
More pockets on the other side of the bag too, so there's blue all around!
And that's the end of the Blackwork Fish tote bag story!
As this year and this school vacation week wind down, I'm not working on any sewing, quilting or stitching projects at all. I've been enjoying having my kids home and doing fun things with them. After they go to bed at night, I do a row or two on my scrap afghan, but that's about it. But next week when they are back in school and we get back into our regular routine, I am looking forward to getting back down to my sewing room and piecing the back for Karen's postage stamp quilt and starting work on Mary's Butterfly Garden quilt. This Mary is different from the fish tote bag Mary!
I hope your 2012 starts off with some fabulous projects to work on too!
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