I have always been interested in bags found in museums but they are usually highly decorative, precious, and are there because they have been valued and preserved. You rarely see examples of bags used by the lower classes, as they were made of less sophisticated materials, were used regularly, wore out and were not kept. I have a lovely collection of bags, some of them from my own family, that were used to hold papers, coins, handkerchiefs and stockings.
In an era when we are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of plastic and we are no longer offered free plastic bags when we go shopping, it is good to see that more people are using cloth bags. For many years I used a lot of sealable plastic bags in my studio to store different projects, but recently I have tried to eradicate plastic from my workspace and have endeavoured to make multi-functional bags from fabric and zips I already have or from pieces of old quilt. My Kindle nestles inside a little bag made from a segment of an Irish quilt, my iPad is also protected by a thick quilt sleeve, and I make numerous pouch bags of different sizes out of furnishing-fabric samples to keep needlework tools in and for sewing projects that I want to carry around and work with on the go. The ones I have made for myself and for friends give me great joy. They do get a bit grubby and because they are made from an old fabric they have a limited life, but they can be repaired and darned and re-patched. I have never seen an antique bag made from a piece of quilt (there are plenty of contemporary examples) but this does not mean that resourceful women did not recycle their quilts into receptacles – just that they were never photographed or preserved.
This project was featured in Issue 97 Red
Excerpt from Textiles Trans-formed: Thread and thrift with reclaimed textiles by Mandy Pattullo, Batsford, 2020