Creative Process: Fun with Fabric and Paint

New purses for people who love the texture of peeling paint.

During my big tidy-up, I found a handwritten list on a small scrap of printer paper. In my own writing, it read, Things To Make (underlined), with the subheading, Choose 1, followed by a numbered list of six items. I recognised it from last year when I was gathering ideas about the coast and harbours (because I was missing being there).

I can’t remember why, exactly, but nothing on that list got finished. It could have been that the ideas needed fine-tuning, or there were decisions to make about packaging, or I needed to learn a new technique or just that last year was a very very weird year. Anyway, for whatever reason I put it to one side and moved on to the next thing…

Reading through the list again, my interest was sparked by one of the items:

3.Purses in the shape of creels.

So I decided, more than a year later, to choose that one! Sometimes ideas need a good while to germinate…mine definitely do.

I worked with enthusiasm and focus this week, probably helped by spending much less time on social media! It’s been ages since I made any purses so the novelty factor helped make it fun too, and although there were a lot of steps involved, I took them all at my own pace and didn’t try to rush to get them finished.

I always like to use what I already have, but sadly after looking through all my fabrics nothing quite fitted the bill. Then I remembered the Emerald Green Dylon I’d been squirreling away. I picked out a few pieces of plain cream linen, plus some wool and silk fabrics, and added zips and a bit of mixed-fibre felt to the pile just as an experiment. After a couple of machine cycles, there was more than enough beautiful teal linen for at least 10 purses, if not more.

Next, how to translate the rope netting of the lobster pots into some sort of design? This was a sticking point last year. Quilting would work well but take too long. Screenprinting would be an ideal choice but I didn’t have the right materials - but where there’s a will there’s a way! I decided to hand-print the fabric using the edge of a metal ruler. Each piece of fabric was lovingly hand-stamped an average of 50 times! Yes, you read that right 50! Hardly a quick option, but I’m glad I did it that way - I wanted there to be some evidence that it was made by hand, otherwise, you might as well just buy from Primark (but please try not to, lol).

BTW, You can add a special medium to any acrylic paints, to use them as fabric paints - it keeps the paint and fabric flexible. All you need to do then is iron the reverse of the fabric to heat set it and you’re good to go!

So fabric ready, I moved on to making a pattern for the purse. Now that we’ve all gone mostly cashless, it’s important to have enough room for your bank card, so I elongated the creel shape a touch. It’s a simple enough shape but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get a perfect curve drawing it freehand so fired up the laptop and used a design package to create the shape and size I needed. Once printed out, it only needed a couple of minor adjustments.

Next, the cutting out. 10 back pieces from the teal Irish linen, 10 front pieces from the printed fabrics, 10 pieces of felt interlining, 20 lining pieces. Looked out 10 labels to stitch inside, and 10 zips. Made the purses.

But something was missing… something to add some va va voom! After scanning the shelves where all kinds of embellishments are stored, I found just the thing! Adding these colourful rope and float-inspired finishing touches really was the best bit of the whole process. The orange wooden beads were made last year from the handle of a wooden spoon, sawn into pieces, and painted with enamel paint. I already had everything else, which was a bonus. I’m actually ridiculously happy with how these turned out - that’s quite rare for me since usually, I’m my own worst critic.

Making 10 purses in a week might not seem like much of an achievement but they’re the first new design I’ve worked on in like forever…and they’ve helped me remember how satisfying it is to create something, with just your hands, a bundle of fabric, and a liberal sprinkling of imagination. It’s better than any medicine.

So who are they for?

For people who get excited about the texture of peeling paint.

For people who want to be reminded of the calm feeling of hearing the waves crash on the beach and having the sea breeze blow the cobwebs away.

Absolutely anyone with stuff who needs somewhere stylish and ethically made to store it.

Definitely not for anyone who needs an influencer to tell them what they want!

The plan was to have these listed in my shop by now but it’s taken longer than expected. Seeing as I’m writing this on World Mental Health Day (Sunday) I decided to practice some self-care and not to stress myself out by trying to do too much. I hope you’re allowing yourself time to rest as well. Resting is good for you!

As I type, I’m snuggled up, (fully dressed) under the duvet, with two sleepy kittens snoozing at my feet - simple pleasures are the best! Looks like the shop update will be Tuesday afternoon at the earliest now because there’s a trip to the vet and boring household tasks to take care of tomorrow.

I’m really grateful to those of you who came over from Insta this week and have chosen to follow my blog. It’s good to have you here! I still need to take the photos for this and the light is starting to fade so I’m going to leave it there for now.

Until next week, take care x

Edit: Only managed to photograph 4 out of the 10 purses.