Accessory as Medicine: DIY Imbolc Foraging Pouch Jennette Neilson
WWBD?: What Would Brigit Do?
She’d re-create herself a phat Imbolc Foraging Pouch, that’s what!
I can’t be the only butterfly on the block who notices how inward we go in the winter, in our ever spiral to greater wholeness, understanding, and marveling hibernation at this time of year. At Imbolc, in early February, or the nearest full moon, is when I remind myself: re-new, re-collect, re-fresh, and re-vive what sister-healer Brigit, Goddess of this stirring time of year, would be up to. How would she hang with her home girls, all us maidens, mothers and crones? She would use her hands, as she was revered by craftspeople and artists everywhere.
Brigit is considered the Muse, Inspiration and Goddess of all creative arts and hand makers. Of course Resourceful-B would fashion a beneficial enchanted pocket for what ailed her as medicine! Let’s get it on…
A pouch is usually made from cloth or skin, and the ones we make will attach to our belts. I will walk you through a simple construction method that makes wearing your pouch easy, but a belt is a must! Any belt will do, and it doesn’t need to be worn through the belt loops on jeans; the belt is simply used as a holder for the container!
1-I myself like to upcycle old leather for this project, but felted wool would work too. (For simplicity and ease, choose one of these unless you are a more experienced seamstress and know how to deal with raw edges or make a liner.) The long sleeves of a thrifted leather coat or wool sweater are perfect for this project, leaving the torso of the garment for a bigger project. Regardless of which material you choose, you will need a piece of “fabric” that is approximately 20 inches long by 8 inches wide (a nice size rectangle).
2-Decide if you will hand sew or machine sew your pouch and if you will be using leather or not.
3-To hand sew leather, you may need a leather punch to make tiny holes to assist you in sewing your leather pouch. Waxed linen is a nice thread to use for hand sewing leather that has been “hole punched” for the side seams, and to attach a button or strap for closure (discussed below). For felted wool, waxed linen is not necessary and plain ol’ cotton-poly blend thread will work just fine. But either way, you need hand sewing needles.
4-To machine sew leather, a denim needle and cotton-poly thread will work. To machine sew felted wool, you may not need a denim needle, but cotton-poly thread will work as well.
5-Using scissors or a rotary cutter and self-healing mat, cut out your leather or felt into an approximate 20 x 8 inch rectangle. Place the fabric in front of you on a flat surface, with long sides vertical, and begin playing with folding it in thirds for an envelope effect. Do you want the flap to come all the way to the bottom edge? Would you like to have it only come to the half-way point and give yourself a bigger pouch area? You get to decide, and once you do, just make a couple small markings on what will be the inside of the pouch so you know where the flap will fold over.
6-After determining how big you want the closure flap vs. pouch size to be and marking it, you can enrich the flap however you choose or not at all. You may want to sew decorative or meaningful “fixins-n-findins” to the flap of your pouch since that’s the part that will show the most. There are a million ways to imbue your repository, so do what is most potent for you: embroider words; stamp images; sew on trinkets, curios or baubles; attach feathers, beads, or crystals. “The possibilities are endless, and this is the step to apply them, being mindful of the next step.”
7-Now you will also need to decide if you are going to use a button closure since the flap will need to have a slit cut in it to accommodate the button. The alternative to using a button is to sew a long piece of lace or strap (e.g. piece of leather cording or old leather belt piece) to the front or back bottom edge of the flap, and use the long lace to wrap around your pouch to keep it secure. There are many other methods, but to keep it simple here I offer these two. The button closure is easier to close while the pouch is on your belt. The lace or strap lashed around it has a rustic and primitive aesthetic that is pleasing but more difficult for ease of
access and closure.
8-Once you know what closure you are using and where you want your flap to fall, you are almost ready to sew up your sides and be done! The beauty of using leather or felt is that they don’t fray so you can make simple slits on what will be the back side of your pouch for your belt to loop through, thus holding your foraging pouch securely in place. Another way to make the pouch slide on your belt is to make loops on the back of your pouch. If you’re using leather, you can hand sew these by using the leather punch and waxed linen; for felt, you simply make small strips and attach as you would a belt loop. When you have your cloth folded in thirds, knowing how you want your flap to look, you can flip it over to see the back side and determine where you’d like your slits or loops placed. Consider how high up or down you want your pouch sitting on your belt. The pouch will tend to be more useful if you put the loops or slits near the top edge of your pouch. Either way, the slits or loops need to be as long as your belt is wide, or just a titch longer. I suggest placing the slits or loops two inches in from the sides. You could make double slits, 1 inch apart, about 2 inches in from each side if you would like to make your pouch more stay-put-secure. Likewise, you could place more than two loops on the back side as well. It’s really up to you, so play with it and see what you think will serve you best.