Opposite Aesthetic – Patchwork vs Minimalist Handbag

My upcycling project is to create a tote bag from my brother’s old jeans using patchwork. Patchwork historically was a crafting method to reuse old materials. However, during its revival in the hippie movement of the 1960s, patchwork became known as an aesthetic to mark the youth’s rebellion and sense of individuality. Patchwork is a look consisting of large, cohesive pieces made of smaller pieces of fabric sewn together in various repeating geometric shapes. 

For a counter-aesthetic to patchwork, I think of a minimalist aesthetic. Unlike patchwork, which can look busy, eccentric, and colorful from its various fabric patterns and colors, the minimalist aesthetic is focused on a clean look with neutral colors, simple shapes, minimal patterns, and with no distracting or loud elements [1]

To implement this aesthetic with my current materials, I would create a bag with only one pair of jeans, so that the wash and patterns are consistent and simple. To highlight the different washes and tones of jeans for my patchwork tote bag, I chose to work with different blue colored denim. However, to make my new bag more minimal, I would choose to only work with fabric from one of the jeans, and the jeans would be a dark wash for a more neutral color. In my plans for my patchwork bag, I wanted to incorporate extra elements of the jeans (back pockets, buttons, and belt loops); the minimalist bag would omit any of these elements to prevent distraction from the bag’s form. Because the bag is so simple, I would try to create more interest with a different bag form other than a tote, but still keeping it simple. Additionally, because patchwork has a very emphasis on working with fabric, I would introduce a different material for the straps.

[2] Diagram of various styles of handbags. I used this graphic to determine what new style of bag I would want to sew if I was trying for a minimalistic aesthetic.

Considering my materials, I would most likely do a baguette bag. I think the shape is interesting with a half-crescent, half-rectangular shape. The bag is typically not embellished, which I think is consistent with the minimalistic and clean look. I found an old chain that was an accessory to one of my skirts that would work as a strap. Because my chain is short in length, it is ideal for a baguette bag. The only other material I would need to procure would be zippers to secure the top of the bag, as the shape is very shallow. I could potentially reuse the zippers on my jeans, but I expect that they would be too short. 

Sketch of the type of bag I would sew for a minimalistic aesthetic using a pair of old, dark-washed jeans


Although different from my original, patchwork aesthetic, I also find this minimalistic aesthetic very appealing. Because the bag is so simple in its materials and elements, I think it would be a fun challenge to create a very clean form when it comes to sewing the bag into the baguette shape. And if it was not for this challenge to look into an opposite aesthetic to my patchwork design, I would not have looked around and discovered my old chain accessory, which I now realize could be repurposed into a very nice bag strap.  



[1] “Minimalism.” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimalism

[2] “Handbag Diagram” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Handbags_diagram.svg

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Contrasting Aesthetics: Opposite Aesthetic of My Upcycle Project.

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Shrey Naresh Solanki
    February 27, 2024 6:46 pm

    The post demonstrates a thoughtful exploration of contrasting aesthetics, showcasing the transition from patchwork to a minimalist approach. The inclusion of an image and a sketch adds visual appeal and enhances my understanding.


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