Saturday, January 26, 2008

Green Bags Tutorial

While making cloth shopping bags, it occurred to me that to be really "green", I should use my scraps. This was inspired by my quilty friend, Linda, who challenged everybody to use their scraps. I started sorting and trimming, making 5, 4 & 3" squares, 2 1/2" strips and putting anything that didn't fit into a pile.

I quickly realized I could fill a year sorting and get nothing used! Going against my nature, I forced myself to grab and sew.

I started with some ugly fabric I bought at a rummage sale for $1 a yard. You can also use old sheets or large scraps, as this will be the lining. I used my Trader Joe's shopping bag as a guide.

Cut two rectangles 16" x 12", two 16"x 6", one 12" x 6" and two 2" x 16".

Cut interfacing to match, and iron the interfacing to the back of everything. I left the interfacing in the seam allowances for extra sturdiness. Set the 2" x 16" pieces aside, as you won't be covering them with fabric.

Reach in the scrap bin and pull out a scrap, laying it face up on the interfacing side of a large rectangle. Place another scrap face down on top of the first, sew with 1/4" seam allowance, and trim the second scrap.

Press open. Continue adding pieces until the interfacing is covered. If necessary, sew small pieces together to make a long enough strip before attaching to your block.

Turn the block lining side up and trim. Save any large pieces and toss them back in your scraps.

You can place your first scrap on an angle or use odd shaped starters to add interest.

Continue adding and trimming until you have covered your front and back, two sides and bottom pieces.

Matching short ends, sew a side piece to either end of the bottom. If your machine doesn't automatically, back-tack at the start and finish of your seams for stability. Don't press seams yet.

Pin the seams to the corners of your front piece and sew using 1/4" seam allowance. Attach back piece the same way.

Turn right side out and fold along each seam and press. Along top edge, turn a 1/4" hem to inside and press. Turn a 1/2" hem, press and topstitch around top edge.

Topstitch 3/8" from edge along side and bottom seams, encasing the seam allowance in a French seam. This will allow your bag to stand on it's own to be filled, which should make your bagger happy!

On the two handle pieces, turn 1/4" along the long edges toward interfacing side and press. Fold again matching pressed edges and topstitch 1/8" along both long sides.

Find center of top edge of the front and back piece and mark 1-1/2" on either side. Line up your handles along these marks with raw edges at the top of bag and pin. There should be 3" between handle ends. Sew in place.

Fold handles toward top, leaving 1/2" turned under, covering the raw edge. Sew close to folded edge and again close to top.

That's it! In theory, your thread and interfacing are the only "new" items you've used. You could try batting scraps in place of interfacing, or skip the interfacing, for a completely "green" bag. I wanted the extra sturdiness of the interfacing, though.

I made several of these using flannel-backed vinyl remnants I found dirt cheap at Joann's. No lining, and assembled in the same way except I didn't turn under seam allowance in the handles, just left the raw edges along one seam.

Since so many stores will be banning plastic bags (a good thing!), I encourage you all to make yourself some shopping bags. Use orphan blocks, scraps, or the too thin fabric you ordered by mail. Have a sew-in with friends and share your scraps. Buy a few old sheets at the thrift store. These would be great at bazaars and fundraisers, wouldn't they?

1 comment:

lunachick said...

I really like your idea to use old sheets for the lining. I actually have an old sheet that was torn by my dogs and I saved it because it's still a lot of fabric! Now I can use it to line some bags! Also, it is handy to make several because I know I always use lots of my canvas bags when I go to the grocery store. Make sure those handles are super re-enforced though. Great tutorial, you will really catch everyone's eye with those bags!