Old Jeans Reused – How to Make the Bag (Part 2)

Finished!The finished bag!

You can see another version here.

This is how to put the bag together.  It has one or two interesting steps that I hope you’ll find useful.

For how to make the fabric look here.

You will need lining fabric, threads and a sewing machine.

The liningI used a scrap of heavyweight dress fabric (lovely gift!).  There was enough to cut 2 pieces of lining and a handle.

Cutting the Lining1. Cut the lining pieces the same size as the bag fabric except allow about an inch extra on the length so that you can make the top border (see finished bag photo).

2. Note: I have added only one handle.  If you plan to carry anything heavy you might want to have two handles.  These instructions don’t include that.

Cut the handle about 43 inches long by 3.5 inches wide. That length allows for attaching to the bag by just over an inch.

The length works well for me but if you’re much taller or shorter than 5ft 5ins you’ll want to check whether you need to adjust it.

Lining3. Sew the lining together leaving the top open.  Zigag the seams all around to secure.

Corner

4. Making a false gusset (optional but looks nice!).

At the corner, place the side seam on top of the bottom seam.

Marking5. Making sure the seams are together, mark a line across the corner, about 1.5 – 2 inches in from the point.

Sew across the line6. Sew along the line.

Cut!7. Cut the corner off, about 0.25 inches from the seam.  Zigzag to secure the seam.

8. Repeat for the other corner.

Handle9. Turn in about 0.25 inches seam allowance along the length of the handle & sew in place.

Handle10. Fold the handle in half lengthwise & sew – I used zigzag because it’s more secure.

reinforcing the handle11. Iron the handle well. Sew along the other edge. Zigzag along the length of centre of the handle.

More zigzags12. Add more rows of zigzags.  This strengthens the handle.  I don’t usually add interfacing to handles so use stitching both to decorate and reinforce.

13. Make up the jeans fabric into a bag following steps 3 – 8 above.

14. Zigzag along the top of the bag and the lining to stop fraying.

15. Insert the lining bag into the jeans bag, wrong sides together.  The top of the lining should be showing by about an inch above the top of the jeans bag.

17116. Fold over the top of the lining twice, enclosing the top of the jeans bag.  Sew in place – I zigzagged for security.

BagAttach handleFinish the ends of the handle with a zigzag stitch and attach securely to the bag on the inside at the sides. Overlap the handle and the bag by at least an inch. I avoided sewing over the side seams because of the bulk of the fabric I would have to have sewn over.

Sew the handle in place around all of the overlap and diagonally across the middle for extra strength.

And that’s it!

finished bagFinished!

xxx

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Old jeans Reused: How to make the bag (Part 1)

Lots of you wanted a how-to for the jeans bag, so this is it.  Part 1 is how to make the fabric.

Below is the finished bag. I bought nothing new to make it so it definitely counts as a stash bust.

Please leave a comment if you don’t understand any of the instructions and I’ll try to explain as soon as possible so that you can get started.

finished bag

Finished!Close up

To make it you will need:

The legs from a pair of jeans,

2 pieces of backing fabric eg. curtain lining – this acts as a support. It will be hidden by the bag lining.

2 pieces of coloured fabric (patterns are best but you can piece different fabrics to get a patterned effect),

fabric

a jeans or other heavy duty sewing machine needle, various threads for sewing the bag and lining and some bolder thread for the zigzags eg. quilting cotton.

2 pieces of firm fabric for the lining & an extra piece for the handle.

WARNING: DO NOT CUT YOUR FABRICS YET

The size of the fabric depends on the size of the legs of your jeans. I started with pieces approximately 16ins x 20ins. My handle was about 43 ins long and 3.5 ins wide.

Let’s start:

cutting the jeans1. Cut the legs off your jeans and cut away the side seams which are NOT topstitched.

fabric

Jeans fabric with side seams cut away. Note top stitched seam in the centre.

2. Cut the jeans fabric to bag size (see sizes above). Of course, your bag can be any size you like.

3. Cut your curtain lining and coloured fabric to the same size as the jeans fabric (see fabric requirements above).

FabricI used a piece of quilting cotton and some dressmaking leftovers from the 1990s which had to be pieced together to make the correct size.

4. Place a bag size piece of the curtain lining on the table, place the brightly coloured fabric face up on top of it, place jeans fabric on top (also face up).  You should have 3 layers.  Align the edges and tack together around the edges. This is called a sandwich!

SandwichShows all the layers of the sandwich.

The jeans fabric will not lay completely flat (because of the centre seam) but smooth it out as much as possible.

5. Using bold thread – I used leftover machine quiltiing cotton – make a line of zigzags near to the centre seam.  Try out the size of the zigzag first: mine was stitch width 4, length 2. Make another line of zigzags on the other side of the centre seam.

Zigzags6. Working from the centre outwards, make rows of zigzag stitches about half an inch apart. You don’t need to be especially accurate. You can see that my lines of zigzags wobble!

zigzagsRepeat until the sandwich is covered by rows of zigzags.

ZigzagsI needed to tidy up my sandwich afterwards as I had left the underneath showing to make this easier to follow.

7. Take out the tacking stitches.

8. Cut the jeans fabric between the rows of zigzags, making sure that you do not cut into the fabric underneath.

Cutting9. Cut back one side of the beween the rows gap almost to the stitching.  This shows more of the underneath fabric than if both edges were frayed.

Cutting between the rows10. Now the messy bit!  Fray the edge of the jeans fabric.

FrayingFrayingRepeat for the other sandwich.

Frayed!You’ve made the fabric!

I will show how I made the bag in the next post.

Happy Weekend! xxx

Refashioning a Shirt

Remember this?

Shirt - beforeIt’s a shirt I bought in a charity shop because the linen was good quality. My aim was to turn it into something I could wear day to day.

Shirt - afterFront view

Shirt - afterBack view – I particularly like the back

I hung it on a door so that I could gradually work out what to do with it. It was a bit of a puzzle.

Below are the stages I went through to do it.  Obviously, the shirt might not be to your taste but the principles apply to remaking any large boxy shirt into something wearable.

Cut off the collarCut off the collar.  I wanted the shirt to have a Nehru collar so I used the collar stand.  It would fray left like this so I needed to bind it.  I chose linen left over from making a dress.

Making bias bindingAdd bias bindingAMake and add bias binding.

Cut to lengthHem

Cut to length & hem

New buttons

Remove old & add new buttons. Make extra buttonholes. The shirt just had too few buttons to hold together properly.

Back tabBack tabShape the back with tucks & cover with a tab made from left over fabric. Add buttons.

Making tabs

Make tabs to shape the front. Tabs are at the waist for both back & front.

Cut sleeves Bind sleeves

Decide on sleeve length. Cut, finish raw edge and bind sleeve.

And that’s it!

Shirt - after

Quilt ideas – progress

This is the next stage of my new quilt.  I am looking for interesting details which might translate into textiles.  My idea is to include sewn details as well as photographs printed on to fabric.

Next step is to get out the bags of linen and wool and audition them.

A New Quilt – First Thoughts

This photograph was taken at the Weald & Downland Museum, West Sussex.

At that time I was involved in a project to make a quilt commemorating the museum’s 40th anniversary and these photographs were my starting point.  Along with several other women, I made two blocks to put in the quilt.  They were made to strict guidelines and in cotton fabric.  The resulting quilt is beautiful and well worth a look if you go to the museum.

Now I’m planning to start a quilt of my own based on this beautiful museum.  I’m thinking of wools & linens for the blocks and my starting point will be my photograph collection.

If you would like to see a trial run for this type of quilt look here.

Over the next few weeks I will show how I get from my first thoughts about a quilt to an actual quilt. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Experimental Pattern Free Top

Another attempt at pattern free sewing.  This is a lightweight linen – I’ve only tried cotton lawn before.

The top is made from fabric rectangles pleated to get the right width for me.  Previously I have used three rectangles, but this time I wanted to use up some leftover fabric I really like, so I made a separate waistband and pleated the top part and the peplum into it.

The back rectangle is half the width of 140cm fabric.  The front is the other half, divided into two so that I could have a button front.

The front only needed pleating to get it into the waistband because the button bands used up quite a bit of fabric.

Pleats sewn down the centre back to match the back width to the fronts.

The cap sleeves just appear when the side seams are sewn.

I made the front neckline by chalking around a dinner plate.  The back was cut to match.

I loved that leftover contrast fabric so much that I made bias binding for the neckline from it & covered buttons to match.

Am I happy with it?

I think the waistband needed to be smaller.  I was going for comfort, but I went too far.

Other than that, I love it. I think it will get lots of wear.

Other versions you might be interested in

Liberty print skirt to tunic seen here

Unloved skirt transformed seen here

To Dye or not to Dye?

Like lots of my other clothes, this skirt was dyed by me. I think dyeing is fun.

The original linen skirt

I did a few other things to get the end result, but I thought it might be interesting to talk about a few of the problems associated with dyeing garments.

The garment may be a natural fibre but often the thread or the lace or binding isn’t.

This top stitching was very visible after dyeing because it doesn’t use natural fibre thread.

I unpicked it and sewed it in a matching thread. As the top stitching had sewed the pocket shut, this was something I needed to do anyway.  Another solution might be to dye something a slightly darker shade than it is already – the stitching doesn’t show up so much.  I liked the contrasting stitching on the waistband so I didn’t change that.

Failure! Machine dyeing a garment is a problem for me.  My lovely turquoise skirt shed colour on the sofa and I couldn’t do anything about it.  I think that’s because my washing machine is computerised and decides on water levels and length of cycle based on the weight of the fabric.  Maybe there wasn’t enough water or time in the washing machine to dye the skirt properly.  I’m pretty sure I followed the instructions….

Felting! Wool garments boiled up on the stove in the dye pot often felt.  Sometimes I want felt, but mostly I try to change the garment some other way.

Shrinkage! Yes, that happenned to me although it is unusual.  It didn’t matter really but I was glad I tried that skirt on again before I cut off six inches.

Zips never dye in my experience; they are always made of pure manmade fibres. If it will be visible and I can’t face replacing it then I don’t waste time on dyeing.

Buttons don’t usually dye either.

Paler result than expected – I’ve often tried to dye more fabric than the instructions recommended.  It often gives an attractive result.  Occasionally the fabric has an unexpected manmade element eg. polyester cotton when I thought it was pure cotton and it too comes out quite pale.  Sometimes thread and trims on a natural fibre garment are a natural and manmade mix.  This can produce lovely results.

The skirt is an odd colour – a red skirt dyed blue will be a shade of purple. I have had a few fun results with my colour combinations.

My hands got dyed! I didn’t put the rubber gloves on from the very start.  I’ve learned my lesson!

Is dyeing eco friendly?  To be honest, I suspect it is not and I worry about that.  It might be better not to dye at all or maybe just use natural dyes.  I am going to look into this so watch this space.

Linen skirt again! 

This was a beige cotton cardigan

Grey linen trousers dyed navy – they become sailor trousers and I wear them a lot