Bamboo Shoot Tote

For the Pattern Magic Challenge, I’d like to make a garment featuring the Bamboo Shoot Bodice and being slightly overwhelmed by the task, I thought I’d get to grips with the design by trying it out in its simplest form: 2D.  Putting it on one side of this tea-dyed calico tote bag enabled me to make those folds and to see what happens behind the scenes (i.e on the wrong side) without the added complication of darts getting in the way.

Of all the Pattern Magic designs, the Bamboo Shoot seems to be one that’s both eye-catching and universally appealing.  It’s also simple, or simpler than it looks.  If you’re thinking of giving it a go, do!  Just be prepared to first try it out on paper, lots of it.

Drafting the 2D Bamboo Shoot Pattern

I’ve prepared this tutorial not as a definitive guide but as demonstration of what I did, should you need a bit more than the instructions in the Pattern Magic book.

 

Step 1 

Cut out a piece of paper the same size as the area in which you want the design to appear.  Make a note of the measurements (you’ll refer to them in Step 4).  Draw the bamboo lines, extending them to the ends of the paper (if you were working on a bodice, you’d only go as far as the bust point as the book specifies).

A note on the positioning of the lines:

The lines should intersect at 45°.  I’ve made my parallel lines 5cm apart.  If I were designing a bodice for a size 12 frame, I’d space them closer together at 4cm.  On a petite or larger frame, 3.5cm and 4.5cm might be more in proportion.

Step 2

Cut along the lines, almost all the way to the ends of the paper.  Place on a larger sheet and spread, leaving gaps of equal width (mine are 2cm).  Pin to the target paper.

Step 3

Trace around the top layer.  I’ve used a highlighter, half on, half off.

Step 4

This is where it gets interesting… and kind of fun.  Unpin the original piece.  Start folding, making long straight folds along the lines, working top right to left then down.  

This becomes similar to the process of french-plaiting hair, where you have more material to deal with the further you go down.  When the area gets too crowded, unfold and cut the paper on the fold lines.  I’ve coloured the fold lines orange to help me see where I’m going.    

Towards the bottom, the area between the fold lines can be cut away.  Refold the paper, using pins to keep the sections in place.  The wrong side will eventually look almost as neat as the right side.   

Measure the area: it should be the same size as the original piece, before you began cutting it. 

Unpin and your pattern is revealed! 

When I added this pattern to the tote, I started off with a copy of the bag pattern: 

I drew the Bamboo Shoot lines as in the process above, extending them right up to the seam allowances (if it’s easier, you can cut off the seam allowances then add them back on in the final stage).  Here’s what the pattern looked like with the middle cut out (Blogstalker enjoying himself in the role of pattern weight….)


Sewing the Bamboo Shoot

One advantage the paper pattern has over the fabric version  is that you can use pins to keep the folds in place and behaving.  When it comes to sewing the pattern, the instructions in Pattern Magic specify:

I’m hoping this gentle control of the folds will be enough for my garment to hold its shape.  It didn’t seem enough for the folds of the tote so I backed my fabric with iron-on interfacing.  Whilst this fused the folds permanently to their backing(and provided the calico with some desired stiffness), I don’t suggest doing this to a bodice as it’ll ruin the softness of the original design.  Some kind of lining will be necessary to protect (and hide) the business-at-the-back side of things.  And, I suspect, the garment will have to be one for the more delicate end of my wardrobe.

Pattern Magic Challenge

The deadline for the challenge is mid-November so if you’re feeling brave and inspired, get in touch!