I made a bag for my new Lazy Kate. Susan Briscoe was my inspiration. I love her book, The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook: Patterns, Projects and Inspirations, published in 2005. I modified her plans for the blue Kinchaku bag on page 51. The pictures make it look like it’s going to be a hard project, but Briscoe’s directions break it down well; it was both fun and easy.
My version uses a hand-washed, hand-dyed cotton a friend gave me years ago after I’d helped her finish her dissertation by watching her wee-babe while she worked. I have savored the selection of fabrics she gave me, carefully choosing when and how to use them because they’re so beautiful and they all have a wonderful hand. My lining was a bit of the green pimpernel blossoms from Little Gifts, a king-sized quilt I made near a decade ago. The pinks in it harmonize with the hand-dyed cotton beautifully.
The sashiko took me two weeks mainly because I had to order more thread from Shibori Dragon in Washington. That, and I only worked on it for a few hours a couple of nights a week. I worked slowly, too, to relish in the joy of hand sewing. Sashiko is joyful because it starts to look beautiful almost instantly. I love that I can see the pattern developing as I work.
My version is larger than Briscoe’s pattern. I needed a larger size to fit the base for my Lazy Kate. The modifiactions were pretty easy. I used the basis of Briscoe’s grid for the sashiko when I increased the dimensions of the bag. That made drawing the sashiko pattern and grid easy. For the rest, I followed Briscoe’s instructions with adjustments in measurements.
If you’re planning to try your hand at any sashiko project, I highly recommend either finding a good teacher or picking up a book like Briscoe’s. Some of the stitching techniques or rules are like those in embroidery, others are like hand quilting. I took the time to study the beginning pages where Briscoe discusses form and technique. That helped my finished bag look a lot more artisan than I expected.
I also recommend using long, sharp needles and Japanese Sashiko thread –traditional Sashiko tools. I’ve added sashiko patterns to some of my previous quilts using other threads and needles, including the sewing machine. They worked, of course, and turned out lovely. Traditional style sashiko has a distinctive feel that gives even the simplest projects a depth and quality of luxury and care. You need the right needles and thread to do achieve that traditional look and feel. You won’t capture it with even the beautiful, fancy threads you’ll find at the best embroidery shops or with needles that are anything short of the long, sharp, large-eye needles traditionally used in sashiko.
Modifications to Briscoe’s pattern if you want to make your own Lazy Kate bag like mine:
- Finished size is 12″x15″
- 54 inches or 137 cm cording
- Approximately 80m sasiko thread (Olympus size 1)
- Cut 2 pieces of fabric for the outside measuring 12.5″x15.5″
- Cut two pieces of muslin measuring 13″x16″ (optional)
- Cut two pieces of lining fabric measuring 12.5×15.5
Use the same grid size and general instructions for The Blue Kinchaku Bag on pg. 48
If you use the muslin, plan to trim the muslin to match the outer fabric after you’ve finished stitching and pressing your sashiko.