Re/making a tote bag

I discovered this bag in my mom’s cupboard a few weeks ago. I was immediately drawn to the beautiful colours and the pattern. It was a gift from one of my aunts many years ago. It is a market bag from Kashmir with hand embroidered patterns in bright woollen yarn. I sent photos to an embroidery artisan in Kashmir to understand the work. She believes the quality of the embroidery is inferior as it is made in bulk. Cheap non-woven fabric is used as lining and on the edges. The round handles made of cane were interesting to me. I took it up as a rather ambitious project to remake it into a tote bag I could actually use.

I decided to take it all apart first and carefully removed the stitches and lay the pieces. I used some of it in this and the left over bits for another ambitious project later. I did some sketches to see what’s the best way to go about it. The rope idea seemed the most do-able.

We have an old timey Singer sewing machine belongs to my dadi, at least 35 years old I think? It is beautifully ornate and full of character. The tube had worn out and because of the lockdown I couldn’t get it fixed so I started sewing the bag by hand. Used a nice violet colour as lining that I already had. Once the machine was ready I continued on it. I took a few many weeks on it.. working on it at my own pace.

And finally, I bought some rope at a local hardware store and tried different knots and settles on a kind-of ply split braiding method, splitting the rope and inserting the opposite end.

And finally, here it is. I quite like how it turned out. Let me know what you think

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