Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Scraps and Snippets ~ My First Craft Tutorial ~ Super Green Reusable Totes

I told y'all that I made some Christmas gifts for gifts this year. I posted pictures of the ones that & did and, finally, I'll post my tutorial. Ha. Ha. I use the term tutorial lightly and with trepidation.

Here's the scoop in a nutshell. I love reusable totes but not that most are:

a) a cheapo fabric type composite that falls apart on washing or 

b) that they are nice heavy plastic but lined with a fuzzy fabric liner. When you put produce in them they get nasty.

So. I had some clothes I needed to get rid of and fabric scraps to use up and decided to be really green and make my own tote. And since I liked it so much. And since it could be washed like crazy, I decided to make some for others.

I took a 5 X 7 photo frame and coordinating fabrics I liked (or clothing to be recycled). I cut out eight 5 X 7 rectangles for each bag using the photo frame as a guide. Don't worry about perfect cutting. Good enough is good enough. This is rustic.

Next...I took two of the rectangles and put my favorite fabric on top, then the less loved fabric in back and put the two backs together, the two fronts facing out, back to back. I sewed all four pieces together with one seam on the short ends. Then I opened it up, flattened out the seam and zigzagged both sides (separately) of the seam to the long piece. (If you want to trim the pieces before zigzagging you can, but they'll fray when washed and you can clean up the fray then if you'd rather.) And since the seams will all be on the outside...which adds to the beauty of it...as in it won't be perfect. I didn't have to try to make it perfect. It's rustic. Yay.

I did that for another four pieces of fabric. Then. I took the two long pieces of sewn together fabric, picked one for for the top,  put the two long pieces back to back (smooth side together) and sewed those together the long way so I ended up with one large rectangle made out of four rectangular sections. Seams all on the outside.  Then I zigzagged the long seam down (both sides) on the front of my piece.

I repeated this with the back. I picked my front or back preference and whether I wanted the bag to be "landscape" or "portrait". I cut sides and the handle out of the fabric chunks, jean legs, or shirt sleeves. I found that 35 to 44 inches was what worked
best. I like a longer handle. ( I cut a chunk of fabric about 4 inches wide across the store folded fabric piece). I made some with a jean leg or two sleeves. I added seams if I had to piece one together and zig zagged the raw ends down as needed.

The sides are sewn onto the front and back panels, raw seams out like the panels. Zig zagging as the panels are except I zig zagged the seam together rather than flat. I sewed the handle/side pieces differently on each bag. I tied one together at the top of the bag. I sewed a few into a big loop and left a seam at different locations on the handle. Others I started at one bottom corner of the bag and ended at the other, overlapping and sewing it.

For fun I sewed pockets of contrast fabric bits onto the bags. I even sewed a cell phone pocket into the base of the handle when I overlapped the handle fabric.

I also made aprons. Using six rectangles. And I used ribbon for the tie. I used about a yard or so. (My tall, thin friend got a six vertical (portrait) panel apron. For my tiny friends I used four horizontal panels (landscape).)

After you sew them up, toss them into the washer and dryer. They will fray. You can trim the seams and gift them. I have enjoyed seeing them show up and seeing them being used various ways by the recipients.

I did use an 8 X 10 frame for one and it was huge. A great overnight bag size. The 5 X 7 carries a lot of stuff. A big reusable tote. A 4 X 6 would be a decent purse size. I chose the landscape over portrait orientation for all of these but if you want pursier you might want to consider landscape.