Tuesday, May 1, 2012

TABABOM Elvish Bag

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Here is my small contribution to FiS's There and Back Again Block of the Month. This is the May prize for the winner of the Flickr Group random drawing.

And a closer look at the stitching:

I have to be honest, I am not crazy about Hobbits. But I enjoy reading Tolkien's work and absolutely adore the languages that he constructed. Seriously, here is one guy doing the work of multiple generations of people working out their own linguistic patterns. It's fascinating and a bit awe-inspiring. (If I hadn't become a graphic designer, I just might have been a linguist. Or an ethnobotanist. Or a costume designer.)

Anyway. How I would love to have the time to devote to learning Quenya. One of these days.

Like any good researcher *rolls eyes*, I quote Wikipedia:
The ring-inscription is in the Black Speech, a language devised by Sauron and used in his land of Mordor. It is written in tengwar. The inscription embodied the One Ring's power to control the other Rings of Power. The inscription used Elvish letters because the Black Speech did not have its own script. 

This circle inscription design is pretty widespread across the internet: you can even get one for your Macbook. But I first found it on Quenya101. (The entry with the original graphic is here.)

Here is a little bit about how I created this project. I've done a few embroidered bags, many of them beginning with Simplicity 4178. I've modified this pattern extensively for different bags, and for this project I drafted a new shape altogether. If you'd like to create your own embroidered bag, it can be done with just about any bag pattern or tutorial out there, as long as it's got a relatively flat surface...not gathered where your design will be obscured. Just cut a piece of fabric with a lot of extra room, that will allow you to cut out the bag pattern easily once you've finished embroidering.

For a long time, I thought that stitching through tracing paper was only for difficult, high-pile, or heavily textured fabrics like velvet. But it turns out that this method of image transfer makes intricate stitching much quicker.

I printed my Elvish circle on regular tracing paper and basted it to a rectangle of black twill, large enough to give some wiggle room when I finally got around to cutting out the pattern pieces:

Once basted in place, I began stitching through both the paper and fabric with a double-strand DMC floss. (Triple strand for the circles.) It went really quickly because I didn't have to keep verifying the design or squinting to see the blue transfer lines!

The only disadvantage to this method is that the tracing paper obscures the stitching you've already done, so that you have to be careful about getting really close backstitches. Also, I wouldn't recommend doing french knots through the paper (come back and do those after the paper is off) because it's hard to get them at the right tension through the paper.

The paper tears away easily; though, you might need to use a pin or tweezers to convince those last few bits to come off:


I hope whoever wins this month's prize over at TABABOM really enjoys this bag, and maybe feels inspired to try some Elvish embroidery of their own!