Monday, 6 October 2014

And now for something completely (well, slightly) different

OK, it's still sewing. But this one may take some explaining.

And I don't mean the explanation that Fanny Packs Are Back In Fashion because the cool kids in Barcelona were wearing them last spring. (They were, I saw it with my own eyes. And that explanation was too easy - I just did it all in one sentence).

Let's start with this guy. The one in the middle, wearing the dress:

His name is Robert. Until recently, Robert was the vicar of the church of Holy Trinity Brussels (well technically, he was the Chaplain and it's a Pro-Cathedral, but I don't know what the difference is and in any case it sounds pompous, doesn't it?) I pinched that picture from their website and I hope they don't mind. Anyway, this church's community has basically been my home-away-from-home since I moved to Belgium about 15 years ago (15 years!!) We're a multilingual (united by English), multi-denominational (under the Anglican umbrella), welcoming, generally tolerant and open-minded bunch where the liberal and the traditional rub along together, usually very nicely. That's why I like it. And in all the time I've been there, I can only really recall one occasion of actual, mass judgementalism - on the day that Robert joined us.

Oh, I don't mean that we didn't like him. We did! A lovely guy, he fit in perfectly right from the start, striking the many balances our services and community can need. But the first time he was introduced to us, well - coffee in the hall afterwards was abuzz! Seems nice, we agreed. Seems like this'll go well. But - tones hushing - what. on. earth?? What's with the bumbag??!

I don't think we ever really found out. But over the years, the bumbag grew familiar and unremarkable. It was just part of the church's (well, the chaplain's) permanent vestimentary furniture. Then, eventually, earlier this year, it was announced that Robert was leaving us, for a rather fantastic promotion that we were all so very pleased for him to get.

Fast forward a couple of months. The week of his leaving do, I got a call. Could I, would I, we know it's short notice and all but we think this idea's a winner - might I be capable of sewing a bum bag? A purple one? Yes, purple. A deeply, seriously, episcopal purple bum bag - as a gift for the new Bishop of Europe?

How could I say no? It never occurred to me to say no! And you know what, I think the Hand of God was on this project from the beginning. Because at very short notice and with more luck than planning, I found the fabric, the zip and the cotton webbing, in three different shops - all EXACTLY the right colour, all matching perfectly. Less than a morning's shopping, a quick google for this pattern, and Operation Bishop's Bum Bag was go!

And yet, I knew it was missing something. That little something extra - something to finish it off, something to elevate it. Something to take this bum bag from simply purple, to fit for a bishop.

And behold, though lo I never do machine appliqué because I suck at it, verily the Lord guided my hands and The Embellishment was Good.

Appliqué Like A Boss!!

Sadly, I had to miss both the leaving do and the exciting trip to Canterbury for Robert's investiture - these photos were taken by some of the starstruck parishioners who did get to stand in close proximity to Archbishop Justin himself (*scream* it's a CofE celebrity!!!)  Apparently the bum bag was received with much appreciation and hilarity, as was the purple, cross-adorned handmade jumper he received from a team of the congregation's knitters (because yes, he's a big fan of woolly jumpers too).

I like to think he wears both under his robes at all times.

Seriously, though.  Are bum bags making a comeback? Would you wear one?

I have to admit, I can see their utility - perhaps if mine was as cool as Robert's, I'd wear it with pride. In fact I'm not sure exactly what's stopping me...


  1. This is too funny! One of my colleagues wears one at all times and thinks it's the height of fashion......... The purple one is fab tho. Maybe you should run a campaign to get them on trend again!

  2. Awwww Jo, what nice gesture! So nice of you and glad it all worked out!

  3. I'd like to think the days of the bum bag are over, but this post just made me realize how badly I need one. For dog training, though, to carry training treats. Not for every day recreational wear!

  4. Can I send this to R? I think he would like it!

  5. Of course! I hope he doesn't mind my slightly imaginative retelling of the whole thing :-)

  6. Really, I won't be surprised if they hit the high street any time soon!

  7. Thanks Heather! The real genius was in the original idea though, the execution was the easy part!

  8. My feelings exactly! SO useful. And really, so quick to make - go on, no-one need know about your little dog training secret! I won't tell, promise :-)

  9. That's brilliant! So glad you managed to pull it off. I remember bug bags (fanny packs in Canada) were popular in Japan as far back as 8 years ago, and still more recently... but not something I've worn in 20 years!

  10. Such a spot-on gift! And that appliqué. I must look at that pattern too... Need a place for my phone while sewing at a craft fair ;)

  11. I'd say marginally on trend :) There's at least one start up business in my area selling them.( Although we call them fanny packs.) If you want one, you should wear one. And yours turned out perfectly!

  12. Excellent! Love your bum bag and I can imagine how much it is appreciated.

  13. This is so great! Lovely story! Nice job on the applique, too. Not sure about the fashion trend. A friend of mine wore one of these on a trip to Paris a couple of years ago, which I thought was crazy - like advertising that you have all of your important stuff right at the front of your person. I can see their convenience though.

  14. This is such a fabulous present. So completely spot on. That embroidery is perfection. Clearly you were sewing with the hand of God.


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