Well, my experiment in Canadian smocking (aka lattice smocking) has gone well. I am now the proud possessor of a new evening bag, something I was very much in need of. It’s just a shame that the Christmas / New Year party season is over and it won’t get an outing for a while.
The bag didn’t go entirely to plan. Firstly, I didn’t know how big a piece of fabric I’d need to start off with to end up with a reasonably sized bag. I estimated it based on my (limited) understanding of how lattice smocking works, then added on a few inches to be on the safe side. After four evenings of smocking – not much knitting has been done this week – I ended up with a piece that was far bigger than I needed.
Then I tried to buy a zip locally in the same purple colour as the satin and failed miserably. I had no time to travel further afield so I had to use what I already had in stock, which was a black zip. That meant the top of the bag needed to be black, further reducing the area of smocked fabric needed. I ended up cutting almost half of it away. It won’t be wasted, I’ll make a smaller bag from it, and fortunately I’d secured every “smock” well so it didn’t all come unravelled when I took the scissors to it.
The black fabric I chose was a scrap of wool jacketing that I made a suit from when I first started work. It was worth keeping it for decades, but I’m not sure my dear husband would agree. I’m glad now that I didn’t make the whole bag from satin, the black wool is much more sensible for the top portion of a zipped clutch bag. It’s more robust than the delicate satin and it won’t show the dirt.
Although it’s a clutch bag, I wanted a detachable wrist strap for those after-party, booze-sozzled journeys home on the train when I’m inclined to leave behind anything that isn’t actually attached to me. I found a short length of gold braid in my ribbons bag (yes, I have a ribbons bag – doesn’t everyone?) and inserted it in a side seam to make a small loop. I also made a wrist loop from satin, and then started looking around for a tiny gold split ring to join the two. No luck. I found silver split rings galore, and the copper ones I used to make keyrings and wine glass charms, but no gold. I even looked behind all the pictures in the house in case the hanging wires were attached with gold split rings. They weren’t.
Then, while idly scratching the top of the cat’s head (as you do), my eye was taken by the name tag hanging from his collar. We gave up buying engraved name tags before he was a year old, because he loses collars with extraordinary frequency and by the time we’d got one engraved he had generally already lost the next collar. Now we bulk-buy collars and the little containers into which a scrap of paper with our phone number can be placed. The latter come with a tiny split ring to attach them, and this one was gold! Problem solved.
As this was my first attempt at Canadian smocking – I’m not counting the small start I posted about last time – I made copious notes and took lots of photos. Seems a pity not to share them, so I’ve written up an Instructables project called Smocked Evening Bag / Purse. It looks complicated, and I can hardly believe myself that a week ago that bag was a flat piece of satin, but actually it isn’t. A few hours of hand sewing followed by straightforward assembly of a zipped bag produces a deceptively impressive result. A bag like this would make a lovely present for a girlfriend or sister.