Featured Post

New Post

Popular Post

Recycling ideas: handbag from old pullover

Green crafts, Needle crafts, Recycle, Sewing  |  July 16th 2011  |  0 Comment

Here it is at last, the sweater bag tutorial that I promised. This is image heavy for the tutorial impaired, like me. I need lots of photos. I just tried to post this and I thought I lost everything. It took me an hour just to upload the photos, imagine my devistation. Then I saw it in my drafts. Thank goodness for drafts file. Or I would have needed something on draft.

Start with a clean surface if possible (especially when inviting thousands of people to view your photos….smile!). This always makes everything better.
Take your beautifully washed and felted sweater and lay it out.
Cut the arms off.

Turn sweater inside out and cut along the seam. This sweater did not have one so I had to lay it as flat as I could and cut up the side. Then cut at the shoulder so you have two pieces.

Iron, iron, iron with steam. Think McSteamy!!! Since making this tutorial, I have found that if you put the sweater in the dryer for 30 minutes when it is wet this takes out most of the wrinkles.
Put the ribbed edge on you cutting mat (if you do not have one of these and a rotary cutter……….you definately need to get one!!!) as straight as you can. After steaming is becomes pliable or moldable. The mat and rotary cutter has changed my life as a bag maker.
Measure out how deep you want the bag to be. Mine is 12 inches
Cut it. You will need the left over shoulder piece for strips for the inside of your bag. So make sure on your sweater when you decide how deep you want it to ne, you have enough left over for these two strips…….very important!!!
Cut the first side of your bag to be a straight line. Then measure how wide you want front panel and the back panel of the bag, mine is 15 inches. Most of the time your sweater will dictate this to you very clearly. To quote the Rolling Stones, “You cant always get what you want!”, Or Crosby, Stills, and Nash, “If you cant be with the one you love, love the one your with”.

Make 2 of these squares (rectangles…no trapezoids).
Find scraps from previous sweater endeavors, and make your embellishment. Mine here happens to be flowers. But I know someone who LOVES owls…..uh hum….me!!!

Make sure it looks right.
Go back and get your shoulder pieces that are left over and cut 2, 2 inch strips by whatever your width is…..here it is 15.
Go to your leather garden and harvest some leather for the bottom of your bag.
Isnt this a beautiful piece of leather? Yummy!!
Cut your leather, and a piece of Pellon 72 to be however big you want the bottom. But you will need to use your math skills. If you want, it can be 3×12, 4×11, 5×10. Notice a pattern here (my son is in the second grade…he loves patterns) Each of these two numbers added together equals 15, the width of the front and back panels. Mine is 4×11.
I know the Pellon 72 is fusible on both sides but, sew it onto your leather to hold it into place. I have burnt many a beautiful leather specimin in this process. (Not pretty on many levels……PU!)
Use your basting stitch and make sure your bobbin thread matches the leather.

Peel off the shiny stuff or your bag will sound like krinkled new papers.
For some reason I do not have any photos me cutting the inside fabric. You need to cut two rectangles the same size as your front and back panels minus 2 inches mine is 10×15. And another rectange 4×11 (or whatever you chose for the bottom of your bag). And another two squares for a pocket….whatever size you want.

Now you are ready to sew on the flowers. I usually pinch the front panel in half to find the middle and put the first stem there. You could measure…theres a thought (this might change my life as a bag maker as well). I just sew it up the middle, not all the way around it. I think this gives it more character.Put the flower on top of the stem and sew it on. Then add your button. You can hand sew these on but after I figured out how to machine sew them on I will never go back.

Add the 2 inch strips to the interior fabric.
Then on the right side of the fabric I sew it down, it just gives it a more polished look and you wont have such a noticeable bump.

Add your pocket. If you need to know how to make a pocket, post a comment, please. Or you can send me a private note, I would be glad to help.

I always sew around it twice for two reasons, one it is sturdier and two it looks better.
Now you will sew the interior panels together. This is kind of tricky because you really want your seams to match.

As shown here…about the seams.
To add the bottom to the inside of the bag, I pinch the rectangle in half (short side) and put the crease on the crease on the side of the bag to match then pin. (are you hearing wah wah wah wah wah (this is the Charlie Brown phone voice (not crying)……if so let me know!!)

Sew that up.
Then I do the same thing on the other side. So, I sew the two short sides first, then I sew the long sides. I hope this makes sense………this is why I do pictures.
This is the long side.
Here is what it should look like when the bottom is all sewn together.

Add your magnetic closure. (This requires a whole different tutorial, here you go. Thanks Tall Poppy Crafts!!) After this is done, you finished with the inside of the bag. Give yourself a big pat on the back, you are almost done.
Here is my secret weapon. The compound walking foot sewing machine. This is the business I will tell you straight up!!! I just got this in December and I have been making bags for 4 years, so take care, this CAN be done on a regular sewing machine (at your own risk!!! I assume no fault if your machine breaks, like mine did…….. after I sewed 150 bags). Please do not use your Designer One or some really expensive machine. Get yourself a 1970′s model with a high lift, that will work well. This is when “doo doo” hits the fan…really. There will be fuzzies everywhere in your machine. Make sure if you do a lot of these that you have that air in a can and oil. To make a long story short, sew up your sides of the 12×15 front and back. That would be the two 15 inches sides together.
Then sew the leather onto the bottom. The same way I told you for the inside of the bag only dont pin it. If you stick leather with a pin, the whole is permanent.
Hold tight.
This is what it should look like. Notice the concave action going on?

Pinch the sides together to crease it really good.
Vo wala!!! No more concave.
Now the outside of your bag is finished. Give yourself another pat on the back. I know you deserve it!!!Now take your inside bag that you have already finished and put it inside of the bag.
Sorry this is blurry but that is the inside of the bag as it should be put in the shell.
Take the two sides and make sure that these two match up. This is the two seams touching each other.
Should be like so.
Then pin it off to the side. Your belt will be going where the seams are. (Now for my big pictures…….this was done before I realized that medium would work) When working on blogger doing a tutorial, you have to do it in reverse order or you are constantly shifting pictures.

Take your belt and cut it in two. However you want it to look. I like the buckle piece to be about 6-8 inches long or longer and the other piece is what is left over.
Tip: Get the Payless shiner sponge to to clean your belt. Amazing!!!

Now you have to decide which side you want the buckle on. If you are right handed, I would tell you to place it to the right of your embellishment. So if you are looking at the finished outer shell of your bag with the embellishment on the front it should be to the right. And if you are left handed I would say to the left, to the left (can you hear Beyonce singing?)
Make sure that your seams are together. If they are not it will look sloppy.
Notice here on this picture the seams are not perfect. I hate that. Most people dont care though, thank goodness. Because, it is hard to do.
Now brace yourself. You are going to sew over all that thickness. Can I just tell you how much I love my machine right now?? It goes through this like butter. I am glad that my other machine broke because I was too scared to use this one…..its so fast!!! I should do a little movie here. 

Sew all the way around the top of the bag.
The beautiful thing about these bags is there is no flipping it right side out and then sewing around the top. The sweaters, once they are felted, will not unravel. You are all but finished. Well you might need to clip some of the stray threads.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,