Monday, June 28, 2021

Finding a Canvas to Fit a Turtle Bag UPDATED

The latest rage in the Needlepoint World are the Turtle Bags, which come with windows to insert panels of fabric.  Needlepointers are naturally inserting canvases in the openings instead of the fabric panels that Turtle Bags Inc. sells.

But how do you choose a canvas that will work?  The openings on both the tote bag and the cross body style are approximately 5 1/2 inches wide by 7 inches tall, so you will need a canvas with a design that is either that size already or that you can add background around to make it that size.  

The pre-made fabric inserts that Turtle Bags Inc. sells are 7 inches wide by 9 1/2 inches wide so you will need to cut down your canvas to be that size or perhaps a tad smaller before you slide it into the pocket.  That means you have to buy a canvas which has an outer dimension at least 7 x 9 1/2 inches or that you can cut to that size.  

Let's say you have a canvas in your stash that you think would look good in a Turtle Bag.  How do you check this?  First, you need a piece of paper that is 5 1/2 inches by 7 inches.  Using a ruler, cut a piece of paper that size.  Now, using magnets, position the paper behind your canvas to see if it will work.  

Above you see my birdhouse canvas from Tapestry Fair with a piece of 5.5x7 inch paper behind it.  The paper shows what will be visible on the front of a Turtle Bag.  As you can see, I'm going to have to add background around the birdhouse, so I basted a line all around the canvas about half an inch away from the edge of the paper so that I have a margin of background in case the canvas shifts a bit.  The outside overall dimensions are 8x10 inches so I will cut down the canvas to approximately 7x9.5 inches once I get the background stitched and am ready to insert the canvas in the window on the front. 

What if you don't have a suitable canvas in your stash?  What should you shop for?  First, I'd recommend you pick a canvas you can do entirely in basketweave.  My birdhouse piece has beads and ribbon embroidery, both of which will snag if it is used on the front of a purse that I carry, even if I only use it occasionally.  An all-tent stitch piece is the best choice for you as it is the most durable stitch.  

Now let's go shopping!  I browsed the Stitching Destashing website for canvases that were the right size and that were all under $40.  This charming daisy canvas is 4 1/2 x 4 and is slightly offset so adding background outside the border won't look odd.  You can do two different background colors, too, one inside the square and one outside it, to add interest.  

You could stitch the Chinese "good fortune" character in metallic.  The design is small at 3.5x3 but has high impact against the dark green background.  You could even add a gold border if you wanted to this one.  

Another high impact design is this red shoe which is 3.5 inches square.  The one drawback of this design is that the outside dimensions of the canvas are slightly smaller than the 7x9.5 inches we are looking for, but I think you could make it work if you used double sided tape to make sure the needlepoint canvas doesn't shift around in your opening.

Want a real charmer?  How about this rabbit?  This is a larger design at 5x7 inches and has the merit of the background being easy to make wider by just adding a bit of branch on the left side.

SharonG's perfume bottle is 3.75x6 inches, and will be easy to add background to.  Designs that are vertical like this one make really good choices for a purse insert as they look natural with a background added.

Square designs like Melissa Shirley's five inch square vase with flowers isn't quite as easy to use but you can make the red border as wide or tall as you need.  

Still, dede's elephant (which is also five inches square) will look more natural with additional background as the design itself is offset.

Finally, consider designs that coordinate if you are buying a Turtle Bag in the tote style as it has a window for displaying needlepoint on both sides.  This SharonG bra and tap pants set would work nicely.  Of course if you are going for the cross body style of bag, it only has a window for display on one side.  And there is no rule you have to have a needlepoint panel on both sides anyway.

Is all this too much for you?  Stitch by Stitch in Larchmont sells the bags and will find you a canvas that will work if your local shop can't help.  They recommend the Colors of Praise initial canvases but I'm sure they can find something else for you if that doesn't appeal.  

Good luck stitching something totally fun for your next purse adventure.  

UPDATE:  Mindy's started painting designs to fit in the openings of Turtle Bags.

UPDATE #2:  This posting on NP Nation has lots of information about the right size canvas for your Turtle Bag, whether it is a tote or cross body style.  Read all the comments.

UPDATE #3:  Needlepoint Alley has inserts.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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