I first discovered Morsbags when I visited The Big Textile show in Leicester a few years ago. A friendly lady asked me if I would like to make a bag. At the time I was in a bit of a rush so I wasn’t able to, but I found out in brief what Morsbags was all about. Not long after I mentioned Morsbags in a blog post I was invited to visit the main Leicestershire project by Rosie Eley the co-ordinator for Leicestershire. I had a lovely visit and learned a lot more about Morsbags.
I love everything about the project from upcycling discarded textiles to saving wildlife from hazardous discarded plastic bags. I am a big fan of community projects of which this also ticks the box, with people forming pods and getting together to make bags before simply giving them away. And of course, it’s all about sewing with a positive outcome.
Over the years I have also got to know Rosie who you would be forgiven for thinking was the founder of this cause because her knowledge of Morsbags facts and figures is amazing, tied in with her work commitment and passion for the cause. She is an inspiring lady.
This year and last year Morsbags have run some fun competitions. This year’s competition is to design a bag for Patrick Grant (swoon), part of the prize is to potentially be able to present the bag to the man himself (double swoon) at The handmade fair in Warwick where Morsbags will be busy showing you how to make one of these great bags.
Naturally, I would love to meet Patrick but I also like to join in the competition and do my little bit to spread the word. so my competition entry this year has a sartorial theme in a very upcycled way.
It all began with one of my husband’s recently retired shirts. He asked me if I wanted a couple of his old shirts. I popped them in a bag to take to the charity shop but when I heard about the competition I decided a shirt would form a good base for the design. I have to say I was impressed at just how worn out these shirts were – the fabric had worn away at the edge of the collars exposing the interfacing and the collar bands were coming away from the collars. I felt justified in cutting this shirt up, I suspect it was not saleable!
The front of the bag is an old tweedy skirt that has been in my scrap box waiting for a project for some time. The tie is left over fabric from my favorite pair of upcycled curtain trousers. I cut the lapel shapes to fit around the shirt collar and made a rough tie shape from a wide bias piece of fabric to make the tie.
I wanted to include elements of making in the design, true to the tailoring nature of Patrick’s career. I drew out a sketch of a pair of scissors that were sufficiently open to help hold down the jacket lapels when stitched on. I free motion embroidered the scissors on with a silver lurex thread. This was a bit tricky the thread kept breaking so I also used a standard thread.
I made a tiny welt pocket to hold a handkerchief. The handkerchief carries another message!
There wasn’t enough of the tweed fabric to make handles, so I cut the handles from the shirt sleeves. I realised these may not be particularly strong, especially given the slightly delicate nature of the very worn out fabric. Then I had a moment of inspiration when I went to use my tape measure…. The tape measure I always seem to pick up. Despite having about fifteen tape measures I always seem to pick up this one with cuts down the length and wobbly numbers where the iron has melted it! This was my handle strengthener.
The handkerchief was another piece of left over fabric, I made mitred corners and free motion embroidered a little message.
I know it’s not Patrick’s fault that The Great British Sewing Bee is no more, but I think we are all sobbing into our handkerchiefs about the big ‘Bee’ size space on TV.
The little buzzy sewing bee has flown out of the welt pocket and across the back of the bag to say this message. Some of the important elements of the Morsbag ethos.
I hope if you haven’t already voted you will pop over and place a vote before Sunday 7th May when the voting closes. You can find all the entries here. And if you’re visiting The Handmade fair in Warwick next weekend you could pop along and make your own Morsbag.