My brain has been a little fried this week due to working too much and sleep deprivation caused by mosquitos in our bedroom (ok, and working at 2 am one night but that was for a good cause). I wanted to work on a simple project and decided to tackle something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.
I used to have a shopping bag that I could attach to my bike. Sadly it got a large tear in one of the sides when I, one time too many, overloaded it. I missed using it. It made grocery shopping a lot more enjoyable because I didn’t have to carry a heavy backpack on the way home but could simply click the bag onto my bike instead. The clips of this bag still looked pretty good so the thought occurred to me that perhaps I could salvage these and use them to make myself a new shopping bag.
If you now think that this doesn’t really sound like a simple project you should take into account that I have been making bags for ages and to me they’re just a couple of rectangles and straight lines of stitches with a little bit of easy maths involved to get the proportions right. Also, if your stitching is off by a couple of millimetres that’s usually not a big deal when you’re making a bag. In garment sewing a dart that is off by a couple of millimetres can already look really weird. I intended to match the pattern at the seams on the outside of this bag but it didn’t really work out that way and I don’t really care because it’s just a shopping bag.
I started by taking the old bag apart (I can’t find the pictures that I thought I had taken before deconstruction) and it turned out the clips are attached to a large firm plate that was sewn to the back of the bag. There was absolutely no way I was going to use my sewing machine to stitch it in place in my new bag. Really, it feels like plastic and I think you’d need a really sturdy industrial machine to make that work. Fortunately, the old stitching had left holes so I used those to attach the plate to the new bag with a running stitch (after I had made a couple of buttonholes to fit the clips through).
For the outside I used a piece of upholstery fabric I’ve had for years. I’m really curious whether someone has actually used this fabric to upholster their couch. Originally I had bought it to make a bag as well but thought it was probably a bit too much when I got home and only used a small piece to add an accent to that bag. Leaving me with a huge piece of left-over fabric that took up a lot of space. I already considered getting rid of it at some point because I couldn’t see what I would ever use it for. After making this bag I still have a huge piece left…
The top of the bag was made with black canvas left over from this bag. For the lining I used black Kona cotton and two fat quarters from Jane Sassaman’s Wild Child collection for Free Spirit. If I had had enough black fabric I’d probably have used only black for the lining but I think the print is a nice surprise when you open the bag. Everything was interfaced with a fusible woven interfacing.
I used a separating zipper for the top because I thought that would be easier during the construction and turned it into a non-separating one by adding a fabric tab at the end. The fabric tab actually caused me the most trouble. My first attempt at a different shape didn’t work at all. My second attempt was sewn wrong sides together and I didn’t even notice this until after I had trimmed the seams and tried to turn it right side out and surprisingly was met by the interfaced side… Luckily the third attempt worked out fine.
The bottom of the bag contains a gridded bag bottom that is held in place by four metal bag feet and some hand stitches across the bottom seam. The plate that was already sewn in at the start did make the construction more difficult because it made the bag less flexible than it otherwise would have been. When I was trying to manoeuvre the bag so I could top stitch the top edge by machine I quickly realised that this really wasn’t going to work and used a hand sewn running stitch instead.
I am really happy with my new bag, although I still need to actually use it to transport groceries. It already wins from my old bag in the looks department and I only used materials I already had on hand, which means I saved at least 20-30 euros that I might otherwise have spent on a new bag.