Divine fabric, or an ambition achieved!

I have had this fabric since about the time I took on the lease for the studio (which is already a long time ago!).  I bought it from one of the astonishing fabric shops in  London’s Berwick St., even though the pattern on it was much too big in scale for the things I was making then.  It’s a white silk taffeta, lovely and crisp, embroidered all over in shades of crimson, peach and pink.  Quite irresistible!

Silk taffeta, embroidered all over.

Silk taffeta, embroidered all over.

For about the same length of time I have wanted to make a bag with an overskirt.  The original inspiration was a photo of a bridesmaid’s frock.  It was given more impetus by the lovely bag I found at Steinberg and Tolkien in London.* 

Bag from Steinberg & Tolkien

Bag from Steinberg & Tolkien

I’d just gone in for a bit of a browse, and there it was, just as I might have dreamt it! 

But that was as far as I got, then.

Now, finally I have achieved my ambition!  Most of the fabric has gone into a stole (which is another story), and the remains were enough for this bag, plus some odds and ends.

My version is on my favourite screw-rod type frame, a delicate little silvery one.  It is quite unusual, as it has not just the screw-rods, but the kiss-lock frame as well. 

The foundation bag.

The foundation bag.

It took quite a lot of working out to get the proportions right for the top part of the bag. 

Developing the overskirt also took quite a lot of planning:

Developing the overskirt

Developing the overskirt

It took several goes with French curve and pattern paper, as well as a version in lining fabric before I could be sure that what I planned would look as I wanted it to. 

Fitting the overskirt

Fitting the overskirt

The overskirt is made in four sections, caught together at the outer edges and then attached to the foundation bag.  This photo gives a good idea of the range of shades in the embroidery.

The completed bag, with a tailored bow for the finishing touch!

Embroidered silk bag with overskirt

Embroidered silk bag with overskirt

Now that I’ve made one like this, it is more than likely that others will come along!  I just need to wait for the right fabric. 

 *Info on Steinberg & Tolkien

  • Visitor Information

Steinberg and TolkienSadly this London landmark, home to the city’s largest vintage clothing collection, closed down on 24th September 2007. A favourite of designers, celebrities and fashion editors, it’s a real mixed bag, offering clothes from 1890 to 1990, with prices swerving from £10 to a few thousand for clothes, costume jewellery and a large couture collection. Anne Steinberg and Tracy Tolkien, a mother-and-daughter team, give the shop its famous doubled-barreled name. Ossie Clarke was among the celebrity shoppers – there are rails dedicated to him – and the dressing up box feel of the place appeals to present day designers too; Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano are just a few. From now until the shop closes for the final time you can pick up a bargain with up to 80 per cent off all sale stock. A sad day indeed.


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