Last summer my local SAGA chapter held a class to make a Smocked Pocket Tote Bag. Our teacher was one of our own members, Kathy Awender, who also teaches each year at the SAGA Convention and will teach classes to various chapters on demand. Several of the class members organized a field trip to the garment district in Los Angeles to buy the silk dupioni for the bag, but I happened to have about 3 yards of lovely black dupioni that I had purchased at Joann's. Kathy's pattern calls for a silk ribbon bow in the center, but as it was a bit too cute for me, I substituted an appliqued initial G instead. Kathy is teaching this class at this year's SAGA convention!
I got the pattern from Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread blog, in which she posted a monogram alphabet in the Celtic Knot style. This is the link for the letter G that I used. I made the monogram into the size I needed for the space available on the totebag, then printed it out, traced it onto fusible web, and fused it to ecru silk dupioni. It was pretty tricky to cut out, I had to get my nail scissors from the bathroom to get all of the little spaces cut out properly. I then fused the ecru initial to the black silk, and outlined it with a chain stitch in ecru floche. For the lining I used a black on white flower pattern, but since I wanted the ecru color, I dyed it in coffee. I've found that dying white fabric, whether cotton, silk, or linen, in coffee will exactly duplicate the DMC ecru. Using tea gives the fabric a bit of a yellow cast, so I stick to coffee, usually leftovers from my husband's morning cup. I also dyed the silk ribbon used for the flowers in the bottom row. Unfortunately for me, everyone seems to think this is really an initial C, not a G. My mom wanted this tote bag, too, as her last name begins with a C.
I made a few accessories, a business card holder, a passport holder, and a name tag holder that we use for the SAGA conventions. The passport and business card holder are free patterns from Amy Butler Designs. Actually, the passport holder is the smaller of the Sweet Greetings Portfolios, but the business card holder is no longer available on the website. The passport holder also holds a small notebook and a tiny pen, which is very handy for quick note writing. The name tag holder pattern is designed by one of the SAGA members and used to be available from the SAGA website, and if I can ever find it again I will post it. The name tag insert was from a program of our local chapter, Sandcastle. It was designed by Connie Moses, who may be familiar to all of you smockers out there as one of the designers of lovely smocked dresses for Australian Smocking and Embroidery. Connie's in our chapter! Aren't we lucky! Be sure to check out her Tangerine Twirl in the current 90th anniversary issue. It's a dreamy dress for older girls.
I made the name tag holder after I attended the Dallas Convention in 2007, but haven't been to one since. I made the tote bag and accessories last year, so have not used all of the items together. Which is a shame, since they go so well together. In 2011 the Convention will be in Anaheim, very close to home. I'll get to use my goodies then!