Being ever so slightly tragic in my adoration of “The Great British Sewing Bee”, I follow a lot of contestants on Twitter. I love that show, not just for the sewing – but I dream of a fabric stash like that, let’s be honest – but because unlike most competition style shows there’s no bitchy comments to a secret camera, no gloating when someone has to unpick their seams – it’s just nice, comfortable sewing with lovely people and Claudia Winkleman who is gorgeous. I digressed, oops. Anyway! The winner of the 2014 season, Heather, was photographed making a “Morsbag”. This was a new word to me, so I went over to the website and went “Oooh!”
On the face of it, Morsbags are a simple idea. You make a cloth bag, and use it instead of plastic bags. What makes Morsbags a bit special is that you make them and then give them away. You don’t sell them. You gift them. To people you know, people you don’t know – anyone anywhere. The fabric can be anything too, there’s a big push for recycled fabrics such as old sheets or clothes. As you can see I’ve made a bit of a stack so far (I’m up to 13, but I’ve another 5 or so cut out ready to sew) and all of mine are stash fabrics. Some of them are failed projects. The purple up there is a skirt I was halfway through before I just thought “This isn’t working” and shoved it into the stash, and the brown flowers are a sheet I dyed yellow and then forgot to use. The rest are fabrics I’ve hung on to because they’re “special” but I thought “What am I hanging on to them for? They might be special, but they’re not being very special hidden away in a box”. I’ve made two froggy ones, one of those lives in my handbag and the other one is currently in transit to Lizzie in the UK who also adores frogs.
I can’t pinpoint what’s so exciting about these things, really. It’s a combination of things – using up forgotten fabric, reusing failed projects, the fact that making them is a breeze and the fact that once you’ve made them they’re gifted away. All of these things, combined together, make for exactly the sort of thing I love. Making, re-using and random acts of kindness.
If you’re interested in the project, you can find all the details at Morsbags.com. To make official Morsbags to hand out, you are asked to buy the labels to sew on, but these are sold at cost and are only 5pence each (about 10 US cents). You can also join a local pod (or group) to make it a social thing if you fancy that. You can use a different pattern if you prefer, or modify the given pattern (I sew my handles on slightly differently to make them extra super strong), and you can go nuts and embellish or patchwork or dye… whatever you like. I’ve so many smaller bits of fabric lurking in the stash that a patchworked Morsbag can’t be far away.
Look at all that blather, I’m pretty excited about this whole deal.