I had a question at an event recently about why my kinkachu bags (I sometimes call them cauldron bags) were relatively expensive. Others can produce these bags much faster and cheaper than I can, of course; I think I’ve seen them online for under $20. I don’t think that I can meet that price point; but I can custom-make them in the desired colors for a given client, and not everyone can do that.
I’m currently trying to figure out ways to boost my production, by working on multiple bags at the same time time in different hues.
This meant slicing up various solid colors into strips, something like this. Each strip is 1 1/2″ wide, and 6″ long. They then get grouped into triads or groups of three strips — and twelve triads to a bag.
I’ve found that I can iron and lay down multiple pieces of fabric on the same cutting mat, and — by lining things up carefully and cutting them in groups to exact specifications with a ruler and rotary cutter — I can get pretty reliable quantities of strips out of most any piece of cloth. I have to press hard enough with the cutter that I get multiple pieces and don’t just slice up the fabric at the bottom of the pile — but not so hard that I permanently scar the mat.
In the next picture, I show a finished bag-form in blue and purple. It still has a lot of steps to go through to be a finished bag, but it’s a lot closer than it was… In front of it, is a set of twelve triads assembled and ironed. That much fabric is going to turn into one tiny bag? Are you sure?
The Kinkachu’s design is such that these individual strips of fabric are going to get reverse-folded to produce the bag’s distinctive pattern of ‘fins’ and ‘valleys’ along the side. That’s going to happen in the next picture, where pins have been used to secure the dark green fabric to the edge of the next strip of dark green fabric. The result begins to look something like a cheerleader skirt — maybe they assemble cheerleader skirts the same way? I’m not sure. The light green now shows through as the ‘valleys’ in the pattern, and you occasionally get a flash of the olive green which is the ridge going in the other direction.
Which is what we come to next. In the next picture, I’ve turned the fabric around, so that the pins holding the dark green fabric in place are now at the bottom on the picture. Along the top, I’m now going to pin the olive green fabric in ridges, edging the olive green up against the next strip of olive green.
Here, the result is going to be a series of ‘fins’ or ‘ridges’ so that the dark green is on one side of a twisted panel, and the olive green is on the other side. In between is a ‘valley’ of light green, which is going to be where the black is in the purple bag behind it — a shadow color in the depths of the bag.
Notice, as well, that I haven’t done the folding of the ends. First, I’m going to sew down both edges with a basting stitch, and remove all those pins. And you can see that more clearly in the last picture, which shows those pins removed, and the last ‘fin’ assembled with its twist in both directions. I’m likely to assemble the final version of this bag with the dark green on top where the drawstring will be; then it will resemble a leaf (which usually has an underside that’s a lighter green than the upper surface, owing to lower chlorophyll content in the underside which gets less sunlight).