TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Magical Mending with Laura Foster Nicholson

Uzbek Bag Magically Mended with LFN Artist Ribbons

by Laura Foster Nicholson

I bought a wonderful Uzbek embroidered bag 2 or 3 years ago – totally covered in a silk cross-stitch, and finished with handles and bottom made of a hand-woven, silk satin-weave ikat fabric. It was run through with gold mylar threads.

Well, what a conundrum. The needlework on the bag – I believe it is Tadjik – is glorious. Weeks of work in fine, tight stitches. The bag itself was thrown together with a rayon lining and zip, and the satin ikat trim was destined to wear out quickly. So I have been gradually reinforcing and mending this wonderful item with my own ribbon. Nearly all of the satin is worn out – the bottom remains but it will have to be patched soon.

The first thing to go was the connection between the handles and the body of the bag, so I patched the junctions with squares cut from my Dandelion and Labyrinth ribbons, which went well with the colors of the bag.

Dandelion Ribbon by LFN Textiles

Labyrinth Ribbon by LFN Textiles

You can see that the satin is really frayed here:

Uzbek bag in need of strengthening.

Now the straps have worn through, so today’s job was to reinforce/cover them with ribbon. I used a black 1 ½” grosgrain and sewed it first to the underside of the handles straight through the old straps. Then I turned the strap to the face, and sewed on my Samarkand Scroll (Yay! An Uzbek-inspired pattern) to the face of the strap, centering it along the way. I sewed it down with a decorative feather stitch. The craftsmanship is more “direct”, I would say, than “careful”, but in the spirit of the original it gets the job done.

Uzbek inspired Samarkand Scroll Art Ribbon by LFN Textiles

Detail of mended Uzbek bag using LFN Art Ribbon.

This should get this bag through the next 6 months of daily use; then I will have to amend the bottom of the bag and will probably use another Labyrinth ribbon – or maybe Samarkand in emerald.

Samarkand Art Ribbon, Emerald, by LFN Textiles
Uzbek inspired!

Laura Foster Nicholson, nationally known for her brocaded tapestries, owns LFNTextiles, which produces jacquard textiles and ribbons. LFNTextiles' ribbons reflect the same attention to detail as the hand made tapestries. Both ribbons and tapestries are ornate and elaborate woven textiles, whose only function is to provide decoration, richness, and a sense of delight.



LFNTextiles ribbons are in the permanent textile collections of these museums:

The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Museum

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Laura Foster Nicholson’s tapestries are in the permanent collections of these museums:

The Archives of the Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

The Denver Art Museum

Cranbrook Academy of Art/Museum

The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Museum

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The Racine Art Museum

and in many private and corporate collections nationwide.



  1. Thanks so much for the opportunity to inhabit your wonderful world here for a day!

  2. Oh, you are more than welcome, Laura!

    I do have a question. When I saw your booth at the Paducah Quilt Show, the ribbons looked very strong but thin. As you have tested them out on different things, what would be the approximate life on something that gets a lot of use, like the bag you just fixed?

    What are the ribbons made of?

    I really liked the skirt that you had on with the same dandelion ribbon (she used it as a trim at the bottom of a black skirt- super elegant!).

  3. The ribbons are polyester, and yes, they are strong, and washable too. If they have long, lustrous floats (like the satin in this bag) they will not wear as long as ribbons with a tighter weave, but I expect these to wear very well. Another mend I did 6 or 7 years ago was to edge the frayed cuffs of my favorite raincoat with folded over ribbon -- and it still looks great now.
    Thanks for the skirt compliment -- it was a tiered gypsy skirt and I sewed ribbon along 2 tiers of it, very flashy! It gets little wear at the hem so will no doubt outlast the skirt.

  4. The satin looks lovely- is it ikat satin? Reminds me of mashru fabric (a satin weave with cotton and silk) with ikat colours from Gujarat.

  5. The satin appears to be silk, loosely woven. It was threaded with lurex which I didn't like at all and I have gradually pulled those threads out! But it is eminently unsuitable for a bag's handles and bottom, as it is fragile.


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Related Posts with Thumbnails