Bonnie from Pink Stitches hosted a great swap last month that combined two of my great loves - sewing and reading! The brief was that we had to make a book bag for our partner, and also send a book that we thought they might enjoy.
Heather was my partner, she is an amazing sewer and quilter from Portland, Oregon (USA) and you can see her beautiful work over on her blog Quilt or Stitch.
Heather told me she liked blue and green colours, and things that are beach themed. It took me a while to decide on fabric and style, but in the end I settled on the Ranka Indigo fabric from the Lotta Jansdotter Echo range and some natural linen, which I think has a real beach feel to it.
The bag itself is just a very simple rectangular tote, which I made keeping books in mind - it is very similar in style to my own library bag, which you might remember from this post.
I wanted to keep it simple, but once I had sewn the exterior panels of the bag, I felt it needed something more than just decorative top stitching, so I watched a few you-tube videos and taught myself how to do chain stitch embroidery. Last year I adored this simple sun dress made by Katy from No Big Dill, where she chain stitched around the hem and added seed beads for a simple but beautiful detail, and that is where I got the idea from. For an embroidery novice I was pretty happy with how it came out. I stitched a seed bead on every third chain stitch.
I lined the bag with the coordinating Aneta Catalina Echo fabric.
Heather assured me that she had wide reading taste, but it's really hard to choose a book for someone else. You have to take the gamble that they may have read it already, so I avoided current well known best selling titles. I tried to think of a book that I had loved, and I read this one while relaxing by the pool on holiday in Bali a couple of years ago. One of those can't-put-it-down, relaxing, feel good reads - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
I added a couple of other small gifts as well - I made a small pouch from some left over Echo fabric, a pretty aqua coloured pen and a notebook.
Heather sent me a beautiful gift too - a gorgeous tote made from Echino fabric and a book that is absolutely my taste, Book of A Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I can't wait to start reading it. You can see her gifts for me here. She also sent me a couple of mini totes for my girls and a Moda charm pack. So generous and I loved all of it, so thank you Heather!