Purse Evolution- On Safari

(The 17th installment in the Purse Evolution series)

Recognize this fabric? It’s the great safari print I found at MaryJo’s last week.

I had to do a little creative piecing to get the print to look perfectly symmetrical on both sides of the bag, but I’m pretty happy with the result. Think it’s hard? It’s really not…check it out!
The first and most obvious thing you need to do is find a great piece of fabric. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a fabric house designing fabric around your design (which I am NOT!), then you’ll need to do some careful shopping.
Determine how large you want your focal design (in this case the zebra) to be, because if you look carefully at this bag, you’ll notice that a significant part of the bag front is actually involved in the curved underside. And you don’t want the focal point you choose, to be “out of view”, under the bag. (This is kinda hard to determine, without actually having the bag in your hands so you can make the measurements, so this is never the first embellishment treatment that I try on a new bag. )
I always trace out a copy of the pattern piece so I can see thru it, and take it to the store with me while shopping. (In this case I traced TWO copies, since they were to be cut on the fold of the fabric, then taped them together to get a complete front.) In the case of this bag, at least the bottom 4 inches of the pattern piece, is involved in the underside of the bag, so we don’t want our focal point so large that it’s involved in that area. (It turns out that the zebra is the perfect size!) I also want the top of the design to be just slightly under the seam allowance at the top of the pattern piece, so it will be dead center in the middle of the finished bag (below the yoke) The photo above shows the way it looked when i had my zebra centered and placed just the way I wanted it. But wait! My zebra’s centered, but look at the two sides. They don’t look the same at all do they?

Here’s a closeup of the left edge, all of which will be the brown color once it’s sewn up.

But look at the right edge, it’s completely different, but there’s an easy way around this, and when we’re done, it will barely be detectable.

Fold the right edge of the pattern piece back exposing the fabric underneath. Next, cut the whole bag front out, just up to the folded section on top & bottom.

Then, since we want to get rid of the black patterned section of this fabric, cut along the single black line, which is conveniently about 1/2″ away from the fold.

Next, cut out a section of the brown that’s at least as wide as the folded area . Lay it alongside the larger piece to check it for size. If you’re satisfied, place it right sides together with the main piece and stitch ~1/2″ from the raw edges. After pressing the seam open, place the folded area of the pattern piece over it, and finished cutting out the bag front.

Here’s the way the final cut piece looks. The zebra is centered & placed just where I want it, with equal amounts of brown on either side of it. Now for the Yoke area. Let’s go back and get that cook black patterned section of the fabric and use that!

The entire Yoke area is visible on the front of the bag, I just folded the pattern piece in half to determine its center, and then place the center fold on the “eye” in this design.

Here’s how the Yoke piece looks after it’s cut and place on top of the Bag piece. I love it!

Now we can do the same thing with the back side of the bag with another zebra or a different animal and then after cutting out the rest of the components we’ll be ready to assemble it for a truly unique one-of-a-kind bag.
So here’s the thing, even though you don’t have a fabric house designing fabric just for you, all your friends will be convinced that you do, when you can piece together the look that you want!
This little technique works with all kinds of projects, including clothing. Why not give it a whirl and let me know what you think?

2 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I will try yet again to post a comment here on your blog. Your ideas & your fabrics are totally AWESOME.

  2. Kat — You are a genius and a great explainer. The two gifts don’t often coincide. Thank you for sharing and for such great photos!

    Anna in Albuquerque