Sunday, June 12, 2011

Simple recycled pillowcase tote bag

Yesterday, I decided that I need some smaller bags bags to store my fabrics in.  I had made a giant bag a few months ago by stitching two pillowcases together but once that bag was filled with fabric, it became really awkward and heavy to carry.  So, I made a bag out of one pillowcase.  I just used the hem of the original pillowcase to make straps and then attached these straps to the remaining pillowcase.

Here's how to do it:

Cut the hem off the pillowcase.  
  • From the open side of the pillowcase (where the hem is), cut off a piece that's 1.5 times the width of the hem (so, this piece includes the hem as well as a single layer of fabric half the width of the hem).  In this case, the hem was about 3" wide, so I cut 4.5" below the opening of the pillowcase.  This will result in a strap that is half the width of the hem (or 1.5" wide in my case).

Make the straps.
  • Unpick the hem piece so that instead of a loop, you have one (or two) long pieces of fabric.  Leave the hem in tact.  If you have one piece of fabric, cut it in half so that you will have two identical straps.
  • Fold the raw edge up to the middle of the hem and press
  • Fold in half lengthwise so that the folded edges meet and the raw edge is hidden in between
  • Stitch along the length of the strap, 1/8" from the edge

Fold the hem.
  • Turn the remaining part of the pillowcase inside out and fold the raw edge down and press.  Fold down again and press.  If you'd like, you can fold it a third or fourth time and press.  This hem is where straps are going to be attached.  My pillowcase was quite worn and thin so I folded the hem three times to make it stronger.  You can make this hem as wide or as narrow as you want.  I folded my hem so that it was approximately the same width as the straps.

Mark the spots where the straps will be attached.
  • Fold the bag in half lengthwise.  On all four layers of the fabric, make a mark 3.5" from the fold.  I used pins to mark this point.

Attach the straps to the bag.
  • Tuck the ends of the straps underneath the fold of the hem at the points that you just marked.  Pin these ends in place.
  • Stitch around the bag, 1/8" from the edge of the hem, stitching the straps in place.
  • Fold the straps over top of the hem and pin in place.
  • Stitch the straps down.  I reinforced this by stitching a rectangle where the strap overlapped the hem.

Turn the bag right side out and you're done!  This is what my bag looked like when it was filled with fabric (thank you to Sahar for helping with the picture).  If you'd like, you can stitch the corners so that the bag has a boxy bottom.  You can also use two pillowcases and make a lined or reversible tote bag.  With two pillowcases, you can make longer, shoulder-length straps (depending on what two pillowcases you use, though, these straps might be different colours).

    1 comment:

    gunksdesigns ( goonksdesigns) said...

    I like that.You can even print on the fabric with some fabric paint or tie dye before or after you make the bag.


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