You might remember that when I was in the Maker Space before Covid, I made not just handles for “Hedeby” style bags, but also ended up doing machine embroidery on green wool to make up two bags using those handles.
The first was a boars head design, while the second was three circular boars. I blogged about the two bags here.
This time around I had some tan wool that I knew I wouldn’t use for any other purpose, and the design I drew, digitized, and then brought into the machine embroidery software is of Odin’s face.
The original artwork is loosely based off a tattoo design by an artist I follow on Instagram, Fiskrart. They designed a gorgeously complex Viking warrior tattoo, but when I saw it, I thought of changes to make it a one-eyed Odin face, though I followed their idea of turning it into a clover-like design through repetition. I didn’t include all of the flourishes and shading that they used in their tattoo artwork. I am not sure where they got their inspiration, or the source the design might be based on, since they don’t include that in their posts, and don’t write in English.
Above – hyperlapse video from my Instagram account of the embroidery process and hand stitching after the machine stitching was complete.
In retrospect, I don’t love the blue thread on this tan fabric, but I’m sure someone else will like it more than I do! There were a few errors in the machine sewing which I went in with a needle and the same embroidery thread to fix.
Using the digital embroidery machine, I put the design on two rectangles of wool fabric, added some hand-embroidery to fill in a few errors in the machine stitching, and then constructed those up into the bag. It is lined with brown linen, with tan wool straps to connect to the wooden handles. There is a bit of hand-stitching to sew the wool straps to the handles, but otherwise the item is machine stitched.
I cut the wool out to the right size using the handles I wanted to use as a reference. I chose to use the arch style handle for this bag.
It’s just a simple rectangle, with a small gap at the top of the side seams left open. I also ‘boxed’ the bottom of the bag which I think makes it feel roomier. From there I put the lining inside the bag, and hand-stitched the side seam openings to enclose the raw edges. More tan wool made some tabs to attach the handles to the bag, and these tabs went into the opening between the wool and the linen lining.
With the wood in place, it’s a lot easier (and cleaner looking) to sew the tabs in place by hand, so I did just that, with small hand stitches going from the front through the back.
I originally wanted to do fingerloop braid for the strap, but the yarn I chose was just too “sticky” for fingerloop, so I did a simple 2-part s-twist rope instead using multiple strands of the yarn. A big knot on one side of the handles secures it. If I find a different cord or am able to make fingerloop braid that works better in a different yarn in future, I might try that.
Historical Sew Monthly – April 2023
The Challenge: Opposites Attract: Challenge yourself to make something that uses two or more colours which you would not normally use together, or colours which “clash” to the modern eye.
Materials: Wool suiting, linen lining
Pattern: None, self-drafted straight to the fabric
Year: Viking age
Notions: wooden (laser cut) birch handles, yarn cord, embroidery thread
How historically accurate is it? The design of the bag is entirely speculative, as no bags have survived, only the handles. The embroidery is a ‘fantasy’ design. There is limited evidence of elaborate, decorative embroidery in the Viking Age (there is some.. just not a lot compared to the number of textiles that have been found). Machine stitched, hand-finished. The bag handles are based on historical finds, however the laser cutter is 100% modern LOL
Hours to complete: Embroidery – about an hour to embroider, many hours to design. Construction – about an hour, and finishing perhaps another hour.
First worn: For the photoshoot.
Total cost: The wool was in my stash- I think I bought it for $1/m at a charity sale. It would normally run about $20-30/meter here. The thread is about $9/spool, though I’ve used it for many other projects. The linen was leftovers from a linen underdress I made, and the yarn for the handle was also pulled from stash – not sure of the cost. The handles were part of a large laser cut project, and I don’t recall the cost of wood at the time. I’ve seen handles like this on sale for $30-50/pair.
How the item fits the challenge: Honestly… I pulled this from my UFO pile to finish off for this challenge – because I do not care for the look of the teal on the tan wool, and thought that it’s “opposite” from what appeals to my modern eye fit the challenge.
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