Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Recycled Denim Bag Tutorial

Back in March of 2011 I did a post about a bag I made using recycled jeans.  You can find it here.
This is a pic of the one I am making today!

I used a pattern by Nancy Ota who is a wonderful seamstress and quilter.  I don't want to take away from her, this is just a few tips I have learned from making this bag a few times!  The size I made in 2011 is the medium,  I am using the small size for this.  Here is the  material list:

Pet screen fabric
1/4 fabric for outside pocket
1/4 fabric for lining of outside pocket
1/3 yard fabric for inside pocket
1/8 yard fabric for bottom support cover
14" separating zipper
cardboard bottom support

You are using pet screen fabric as the base for the bag.  I found mine at Lowes,  here is a pic.
It is a big roll and you can get quite a few bags out of it.  So far I have cut out 2 small and one medium with straps and still have a bunch left.

For this bag you need a piece 14 x 23".  I use my cutting board to lay out the fabric and use the markings to cut it.  You will also need to cut a piece 2 1/2 x 26" for each strap.  I usually cut one piece 5 x 26" then use my rotary cutter to cut it in half!
Sorry my cutting board is real old, like 30 years!  I think I used it to cut out my wedding dress!

Once you have your screen fabric cut it is on to the purse fabric.  I decided I was going to use recycled jeans for this project.  I save them when my kids outgrow or just decided they don't like that style!  For the price of jeans, it is nice to give them a second life!

For the small bag you need 2 pieces 7 x 15".  I wanted to incorporate a seam in there as well.  When you are sewing with denim, make sure your machine will go through the thickness and that you have a denim or leather needle.    Here are my pieces cut out.

 The seam is a little off center but that is how I like it.  I then decided I wanted to add a pocket.  I just cut the pocket off another pair of jeans and added it on.

Need to make sure you leave enough room at the top and bottom to add your piping.  Also be sure you have enough room at the side for the side seams with out catching the pocket.

For the lining of this piece and the inside pockets I picket out a fun colorful cotton fabric.

  From this you need to cut out 2 10 1/2 x 15" pieces for the inside pocket and 2 7 x15" pieces for the lining.  The 10 1/2 pieces you will fold in half length wise, right sides together and take a 1/4" seam.  Iron the seam open then turn right side out.   Press and then top stitch the side that you will be using for the top of the pocket.
This is the seam before I pressed it open. 
This is after pressing and with the top stitch.

When you are done with the inside pockets set them aside, we can begin work on the outside!  Here is where you can have some fun.  We need to add piping to the front pieces.  I like to pull a color from the lining to give it interest.  Here I decided on the pink!

 Pin the piping to the top and bottom of the denim piece.  You need to use a zipper foot for this to get right up against the piping.  After you have sewn that onto both denim pieces you then will sew the lining onto it right sides together.
Here is a pic of it after I have sewn it, you can see the piping and denim, like a sandwich!  Once you have sewn both top and bottom of both side you can turn and press.
This is now the outside of your bag! 

 Now we are going to attach it to the screen fabric.  Suprisingly it is real easy to work with.
I lay my fabric over my cutting board so I can see the markings underneath.  You will need to mark nine inches down from the top.  This is where you will attach the bottom of the inside pocket.  Just take a small 1/4 " seam.

 This is the bottom of the pocket on the inside.  It helps to pin the sides and top to the screening so it will stay in place.  Now turn the screen fabric over we are going to attach the front.  This time you need to measure down 10".
Again you will take a small seam, I usually use the piping as a guide.  Once you have this done, baste the sides, the inside pocket and front to the screen fabric.  Now we will add the pocket seam!

When you are all basted and secured, measure the center of the bag, should be 7 inches from the sides.  This will be your seam to make a pocket on the inside and outside!  Make sure the inside pocket is pinned and caught up when you sew!  I marked with chalk and then used pins to guide me.
 When I am sewing the seam I reinforce the top and bottom by going back and forth over the seam.  Once you get to the bottom of the one side after you have reinforced, just lift your pressure foot and move to the bottom of the other side!  Saves time and thread!
Now you have 4 pockets on the outside, plus the ones we added, and 4 on the inside!  Love pockets!

Now we need to work on the straps.  If you cut just the one piece 5 x 26" you will need to fold that in half and cut at 2 1/2" so you have to pieces for the straps.  Take one piece and fold  from each side to the center legnthwise.

 Pin as you go along, do this for both straps.  I then use a zig zag stitch to sew these together.
 Here is one sewn.  Now you are going to fold that in half, with the seam on the inside.  You need to leave 4" on each end open.  This is where it will attach to the purse.  I usually fold this as I am sewing, having a ruler handy to measure my ends!

 Once you  have the straps done, you need to attach to the bag.  So first you need to find the center of the bag, 7 ", then you will be placing the straps 3" off center each way and 2" down from the top.
Hard to see, but that is the strap pinned to the bag.  Right side to right side.  Take a small 1/8" seam, I usually go over it a few times for strength.  Then turn the strap up towards the top of the bag and pin.  You then will be sewing the strap to the bag making a box about 1" then an X through the box.  
You can see in the pic how I have sewn the strap on.  You don't want to go much more than 1" or you will get in the way of the zipper!   Sew all the strap ends like this!

Now we need to attach the zipper.  I am going to refer to the directions for this, cause I always have to reread them when I am doing this!  You need a 14" separating zipper for this size. 

Sorry for the small print, I will try to sum it up.  Pin the zipper to the outside edge of the purse like the first pic of the directions. Right side to right side. (1)  Using your zipper foot sew the zipper to the bag.  Then open the zipper and sew again closer to the zipper.  Then fold the bag over so the inside is facing out and pin the other side of the zipper to that top edge. (2) Sew.  Once both sides are sewn to the bag, unzip the zipper completely, you are going to fold back the screen away from the zipper and top stitch.  (3)

I hope that is clear.  I know sometimes I need to reread something and even try to work it out in my head first.  Trust me it does work!

Once you have done all that, re zip the zipper about 1/3 of the way closed.  You are now going to sew the side seams!   Pin your sides together right side to right side with the straps inside,  taking the time to make sure the piping and fabric all match.  You should sew from the bottom up, so turn and pin the other side so you can do that.  The pins will be on opposite sides.  You are going to sew a 1/2" seam.  Take your time as you sew through all the layers.  On the side with the end of the zipper, sew as far up as you can.  On the side with the zipper opened, once you get up to the edge fold over the ends of the zipper  so it is wrong side to wrong side.  This will finish it off.
 Here is one side pinned and ready to go!

Now that your sides are done you need to finish them off.  The pattern calls for double fold bias tape, but I found a nice lightweight ribbon that works great.  I just fold over the ends and zig zag up the seam to the top.  Nice and finished.
This is the ribbon I found at JoAnns.   Hopefully they still carry it, I need more!

Almost done!  We need to box in the corners.  This is just pulling the corners taught to a triangle and sewing along the edge. 
 As you can see I use the zipper foot for this!  Makes it easy to get nice and tight.  Now you can turn your bag right side out!  Be sure to get in there and push all the seams out.  Admire your work!  Your did it!
The only thing left to do is the bottom support.  I like to use heavy duty card board, so save your boxes.  Of course I can't find any right now, but I have a pic from another one!
You need to measure your bottom of your bag to get the right measurements.  Once you do that cut the cardboard and fit it in.  Sometimes you need to adjust a little to get it to fit right.  Once you have the right fit, you can make your 'pillowcase' for the cardboard.   That is really what it is!  Leave enough along one edge so you can fold the edges inside.  Here is a pic from another one I did using cardboard from a Bath and Body Works Box!  i didn't cover it cause I liked the gingham!

Hope you enjoy this bag.  There are other sizes you can make as well, the one I originally did was the medium size.  If you want the measurements just let me know, the sewing is the same.

I always add a fun zipper fob!  You can find cute doo dads at Joann's, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Walmart...



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