The fact that the term unselfish sewing exists, implies that people who sew, sew a lot of things for themselves. In this I’m no exception - it’s pretty much all about me and of that fact I’m unashamed. Extrapolating from this, I’d go as far to say that I’m not a natural giver. I see a beautiful thing and my first thought is whether I might have it … there’s quite a hop, skip and a jump before I decide to bestow it on another instead. 

I learnt about the transformative powers of giving through Buddhist teachings. Yes - I’m the kind of girl that has to go to a class to work out that a quality might be worth adopting. I will always remember the moment when I said to my friend - who was perpetually doing things for others - ‘How come you never told me it feels so good!’

The Grainline Studio Stowe Bag, is an excellent vehicle for someone like me, looking for an opportunity to flex their gifting muscle. And I’m awarding it extra points for the dinky version with it’s stash busting potential. I had Denim Fabric left over from my Katherine Tilton Dress to knock up a mini one and the opportunity to spread some love, with a work colleague’s birthday on the horizon. 

If you do as suggested and read through all the instructions at the outset, your journey will be a delight. If you follow my lead and take it step by step, you may find yourself adamant that it’s not going to work and confounded as to how the whole thing comes together. But come together it did until the almost end when I came a cropper - Step 15 had me stumped. Thankfully - as is usually the case - if you can’t fathom something you’re often not alone and all it takes is a quick burrow down a Google rabbit hole to find your people. So if unlike me, you decide you want a permanent gusset, check out this video and everything will be illuminated. 

Fabrics over 9oz are not recommended and the reason for this becomes clear when stitching through multiple layers to create the gusset. I read later that increasing the stitch length can make this task a little less arduous and took a little moment to appreciate the benefit of hindsight. This medium weight material and pattern were the perfect pairing resulting in stylings befitting of my favoured Japanese aesthetic. I’ve seen people interpret this in a myriad of ways with vibrant colours and linings to mask the innards. But I’m increasingly drawn to a utilitarian, minimalist approach - clean structured lines with a distinct Amish flavour.

This bag is classed as advanced beginner and that’s probably due to the extensive bias finish. At this point, I did inject some colour, albeit muted, with some home-made continuous bias binding I created using Wendy’s excellent tutorial. I keep banging on about this method but it’s truly revelatory how a 47cm square piece of fabric can yield 7.5 metres of bias. Try it and join my niche club of the mind blown. 

And while you’re at it, you could try a little gift giving for size in the shape of this Stowe bag and reap the emotional rewards of being Friday’s child.