Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Funeral Purse

While I was away in Canada my son's girlfriend's grandfather passed away. Born in Viet Nam in 1921 he left behind a huge number of family including one great-grandchild. I decided to attend the funeral and it was held Saturday at Holy Rosary church in Downtown Houston. There were hundreds of people at the church for the all Vietnamese service. The internment was near here at Brookside in an area that seems to be exclusively set aside for Vietnamese graves. It was interesting to see the blend of old and new traditions in the graveside service and I loved the smell of joss sticks that seemed to be burning at most gravesites. A most unusual aspect of the graveside service, at least to me, was when the grandchildren removed their traditional white garments and laid them in the grave with many flowers added by the attendees. I had been curious about the voluminous garments and was horrified at the poor quality of the fabric and construction... not realizing that they would be discarded at the end of the grave side service.

While anticipating my attendence at the funeral I realised that I wanted a new handbag to carry that could hold those few things I might need like a handkechief and allergy medications. I had noticed previously that the Amy Buter "In Stitches" book had a sew along group and that their current project was the patchwork handbag.

I wanted to try one of her patterns so conceived of a little dark but flowery bag using some clip art images of fairies and angels. I created a sheet of fabric transfers and proceeded to search the stash for appropriate fabric.

That was when things began to go very wrong.

I realized that I didn't have just the right bunch of stash fabric to complete the purse as anticipated but I did come across a yard of over-dyed cartoonish glamour girl fabric I had purchased a few years ago at the International Quilt Festival.

Out the window goes the flowery, girly concept, in comes the naughty lady concept. I did not change the basic design of the bag but I added a couple of 'jeweled' zipper charms that I had made previousy instead of using the provided zipper fob pattern. I also used a purse zipper that has two pulls so that the bag can open in the middle rather than just from one side.
I have not added a firm base to the interior (I may not) but I added two long pockets on the inside to organize the bit and pieces of my life.
I may do some additional top stitching to crisp up the edges but that will take a while before I am motivated to do more work on it.
I did not use the handbag at the funeral... some how it seemed really inappropriate but I think I will get some use out of it when running around town or as a small knitting project tote. This was a fun project to complete. The instructions were extremely thorough but it is definitely not a project for a raw beginner. The lining is hand applied after the exterior is completed so I actually had to pick up needle and thread to finish it off which I did while waiting in the car for the attendees to come together before the funeral.
I wonder if I will ever have the nerve to carry this bag at a funeral? Probably not but it will forever be associated with funerals on a hot Houston morning.


Bristolcare said...

again I am in total awe of your talent. The purse is lovely.

mamalife said...

Sorry to hear about your son's girlfriend's grandfathers death. Love the cartoon fabric - very fun!