Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Throw Those Old Clothes Away

Boy was I in a purging kind of mood last week!  My closet had become so overstuffed with clothes that I was no longer wearing and I couldn't find anything.  Thankfully, when the purge was complete, I ended up with a bunch of clothes to put back in the closet, a pile for the local women's shelter and a pile that I new I just couldn't even donate.  With that pile, I set to work on a bunch of upcycled projects.  Today, I thought I'd share a really simple way to make some low sew bags that can be used for gift giving, storing jewelry, carrying snacks to school and you can even use them instead of those pesky plastic produce bags.  Here's how my favorite turned out:

This bag was made from the sleeve of a pajama top that I've had for several years and was down to it's last couple of buttons (I saved the animal print buttons for later use too).  It's hard to see in this picture but it has a really pretty sheer ruffle around the top of the bag.

Step one:  Clean your closet, your kids closet, your neighbors closet and donate whatever is still wearable.  What's not - gather up and remove any zippers, buttons or embellishments that you might find use for in other projects.  Then start imagining the cuts you can make.  The bottom of pant legs and the ends of sleeves are a great place to start and will require just a couple straight seams. I don't really like to sew so the fewer stitches, the better!

Lop off the end of your garment.  Yeah, I know it's not straight, I fixed that before I started sewing.
Then you're going to fold over the top seam to make a "pouch" for your drawstring.  Add a few pins and sew around the sleeve.

Just be careful not to also sew through any ruffles. You'll want to leave a small opening in the seam for the drawstring.

Now you can select a coordinating ribbon or yarn and thread it through your seam.  I find attaching a safety pin to one end is the easiest way to get the cord through the seam.  Before we finish off this bag, I want to jump to an alternate (and easier) method of making your top seam. 

This is the bottom of a pajama pant leg that already has a nice seam in it. All you need to do is snip a piece of the seam and thread your drawstring through - so much easier!

Okay, let's head back over to our animal print bag and finish off the bottom.

Be sure the right sides of your fabric are facing each other and add a few pins to keep everything straight.

Add a simple straight stitch across the bottom and viola!  Simply turn your finished bag right side out and it's ready to use.  I was able to get two identical bags, one from each sleeve, from this garment.  With a few extra and still simple stitches I was able to get another pouch from the breast panel using the button holes to thread my ribbon through.  I still have plenty of this fabric (and ideas) left. 

Let's go back and finish off that blue jersey bag that I started above:

I know I know....why would you slice it up?!  How functional would THAT be?!  Trust me, I have a rotary cutter and I know how to use it. 

After you've sewn up the bottom edge as you did in the above bag, use a straight edge and rotary cutter to make inch long cuts in your fabric that are about half an inch to three quarters of an inch apart. 

Now you have yourself a nice looking and reusable produce bag!

See I told you I knew what I was doing!  Post below and tell me what you're doing with your old clothes.

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