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Magical Sewing and My Bags

I have long sought the perfect bag, and while I think I may have finally found the EDC bag of my dreams, when it comes to bags for magical storage, I tend to prefer making them myself. I've been sewing lop-sided or awkward tarot bags since I got my first deck in college, but in the last five years or so I've been trying to up my game when it comes to hand-stitching.

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A drawstring bag made from floral-print fabric

This is a bag I made a few years ago, right after the local SCA tempted me back into handsewing. It's made of a heavy cotton with a dark, floral print and is just a tube sewn to a circular base, but it is actually one of my first attempts to make something more structured than a simple two-rectangle drawstring bag. We never ended up clicking with the SCA, probably because Bug was young enough at the time that attending meetings was complicated, but I did make this handy bag.

This project really upgraded my hand-stitching, though, because as I made it I realized that if I focus on what I'm doing rather than just trying to finish it, not only do I get smaller, neater stitches, I also can sew significant energy right into the fabric. Like knot magic, you are bringing something together, which creates all kinds of room to add your will or spellwork. Each stitch is its own tiny act of will, adding up to a larger whole when it is complete; each stitch is important to the whole, but the whole is so much more than the sum of loops of thread.

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A piece of fabric showing Captain America's shield

My largest project to date was a magical-possibles bag, large enough to wear as a backpack or carry as a tote bag, made out of secondhand shirts and a pillowcase. This had considerably more structure and considerably more work put in. I taught myself a lot about structure as I went, and this was my first project with a lining.

The image above shows Captain America's shield. I cut up a shirt with the logo on it, the white star in the red and white circles, and sewed it on to the bag with blanket stitch and then embroidered on top of it. This project took me weeks, and I set it down in frustration twice while I worked out the next step in my head, but I was able to add considerably more spellwork and energy to the bag between the larger size requiring more stitching and the inspiration to add embroidery over the symbolism.

I've been having bouts of Sudden Onset Executive Function lately, and over the last few days this has resulted in quite a bit of hand sewing. Last spring when the kickstarter for the Alleyman Tarot was going on, someone designed and posted a very cool patchwork bag pattern in the discord server. I decided to give it a go, cut out some of the pieces, did a bit of stitching and then gave up as I was having a lot of pain in my hands at the time.

The Patchwork Bag

I came across it when I was re-organizing my workspace a bit ago and the other day while I was in a meeting I picked it up. There was a threaded needle still in it so I was able to start without much trouble. Not exactly remembering the details of the pattern, I ended up largely winging it and ended up with something pretty different but still very much inspired by the original.

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This is the actual pouch where the deck(s) go. Since the Alleyman deck hadn't shipped yet, I put two decks that I had nearby into the bag, just to get a sense for how it feels. The front piece of the bag is moon-and-stars quilting cotton, the lining is my favorite yellow bee-print and the sides are olive-green moleskin. I pulled all of this out of my stash, by the way.

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The tarot cloth section, with room for a five card layout

It wasn't until I'd finished and taken pictures, then went back to the pattern, that I realized this piece where it folds out into a small reading cloth isn't actually in the pattern; I don't know why I was so sure it was. This section is partially bee-print and partially a green batik quilt cotton on the inside.

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Here it is all wrapped up, and you can see the green batik a bit better as well as the bamboo-print quilt cotton I used for the other side of the reading cloth section.

I plan to add a ribbon tie and some other details, like the coin pocket from the original pattern and possibly some embroidery, but the main body is complete and functional and I'm really quite pleased with having finished something that was undone for the better part of a year.

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