Monday, June 18, 2018

The Haithabu Bag--A Progress Report

Bag with frames pinned on, via the wool tabs
Though I have missed the April deadline for HSM projects featuring unusual closures, the bag I intended to make using reproduction wooden frames based upon Hedeby archaeological finds is well underway.  I have sewn together the outside of the bag (i.e., the wool felt part) and have sewn the amber strip of wool to the edge of the bag opening, but have not sewn the bottom edge to the bag lower down.

The pictures show the amber strip as pinned down on the bottom.  One of the pictures shows the frames pinned onto the bag via the felt tabs.  That picture gives the truest impression of the color of the amber wool; the picture showing the bag from the broader side without the frames gives the truest impression of the shade of the brown wool.   As usual, each picture is clickable to get a larger image.  The picture quality is not as good as I'd hoped--my digital camera is old and getting crotchety, and trying to take a photograph before your batteries crap out is not the best path to quality photography.

Inside of the bag.  No lining yet.
Bag showing one of the narrow sides.  
Bag from the broader side.
Because the felt is stiff, the bag looks more like the flat-bottomed clasp bags of the 1950s and 1960s than I had expected, but in my opinion it remains a plausible design.  Possibly it would be more useful and look less odd if it were made up in leather; after all, the leather Sami bag Kristine Risberg discusses on her blog looks rather like a modern "hobo" bag.  The stiffness of the felt also means that the seams are quite thick, which may affect how the frames sit on the bag when the tabs are sewn down.  I probably will turn under the ends of the tabs before stitching them down, to give a more even look.

I've spent about two hours on this project so far (exclusive of planning and blogging).  That may mean that for many people, making such a bag is not a one-afternoon project, especially if one makes one's own frames.  One can simplify the task by selecting materials that are easier to work with, or that one has more experience working with than I have with sewing wool felt!

At the rate I'm going now, I will probably finish the bag by the end of June, if not before.  That makes for awkward timing in terms of the Historical Sew Monthly challenges.  April's challenge was "Buttons and Fastenings", but I missed that deadline.  I could probably have justified submitting the bag for May's challenge, "Specific to a Time [of Day or Year]," because the Vikings probably didn't use bags of this type except when they were traveling someplace (e.g., to a marketplace such as Birka).  But I didn't finish in May either, so the applicability of that rationale is also a moot point.  June's challenge is "Rebellion and Counter-Culture," which doesn't apply because there's nothing rebellious about making or using a functional item such as a bag, and there was no "counter-culture" in Viking Age Scandinavia so far as I am aware.  September's challenge ("Hands and Feet"; make an accessory for either) and November's Challenge ("Purses and Bags") are good fits for the project, as I've said before, but I'm not going to refrain from finishing this item for that long if I can finish in June.  So I guess I'll call this a late submission for May's challenge.

I'm happy with the bag so far.  It's quite sturdy, and I think I will like the look of the amber and brown wool combination when it is done.  There will be more pictures then, and I will definitely post on the HSM Facebook page also.


  1. Wow! Your bag is shaping up really well. I do like the colours you’ve chosen, and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

    1. So do I! I should be able to finish this by the end of the month....It's supposed to be quiet here.