A Genoa Tote with a touch of Sashiko

It’s present time!  A big one this year as my Mum turns 70.  I try to make something special for my parents on these big occasions, especially as I am not in Yorkshire to celebrate with them.

I made this for my Dad’s 70th a couple of years ago, it’s a gilet for the garden and it took me an age.  If you haven’t seen this before, it’s probably because it was one of the first projects I ever blogged about.  Read all about it here.


I needed to pull out the big guns, here.  I had considered a kimono but because Mum is the ‘Queen of Returns’ (at Marks & Sparks) I thought better of it and went for a bag.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of the Genoa Tote pattern in the raffle at Sydney Frocktails back in February.  I was then gifted a set of the hardwear for the bag by the lovely Blogless Anna (Thank you Anna)! I had my pattern sorted, now for the design.

It had to be Sashiko for Mum and I really wanted to work on a design I had never tried before, I wanted impact, so I chose the triple persimmon flower stitch.  I bought my stencilled dotty fabric in navy  and some white Olympus sashiko thread from Bebe Bold and off I went.

I am not even going to begin to explain how to do this, no need, Susan Briscoe’s, The Ultimate Sashiko Sourcebook tells all with helpful illustrations and examples. But lets just say it requires concentrations and patience.


I had ploughed my way through the maze of vertical lines, feeling a little despondent as I couldn’t see how this would ever work.  But then the magic happens when you start stitching those horizontal lines… So awesome!



Let’s not be under any illusion here, this piece took me ages.  But worth ever stitch because it is really beautiful and I like it even more for it’s imperfections, the odd wonky stitch adds to the beauty.

Now to apply it to my Genoa Tote.

I chose a heavy indigo denim which I found at Achieve Australia.  I make lots of tote bags from this fabric as it’s really sturdy stuff.  It was also the perfect match for the Sashiko panel.  To make the pattern piece I just added a strip of denim to the top and bottom and cut out the piece as I would any other fabric.

Here it is.

FRONT: This is the smallest size Genoa, using the tan leather handles
BACK: I kept the back Sashiko free and used the indigo denim

For the lining I used some gifted vintage fabric. I suspect it’s Liberty, it certainly has the quality feel of a Liberty fabric but I can’t be sure.  It’s really beautiful though.  I am also super pleased with the internal zip pocket.

Zip: Who Says Sew

This piece of Sashiko is called rice flower stitch, again from Susan Briscoe’s book.  It was a little piece I was sampling for another project. It just happened to be the right size for this pocket, so I added it in here.  I love that little hidden gem.

The Genoa as a pattern is super simple to make and I can see many more in my future.  I just loved adding the leather straps and the studs, it looks so professional.

The great thing about this gift is that it is being hand delivered by my biggest kid.  He’s flown to the UK to visit the family for a few weeks (without us). I think he is the best gift to my Mum could want, but maybe this will come a close second. A very belated Happy Birthday, Mum!






16 thoughts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s