I’m really enjoying my college course at the moment [I’m on a 10 week course at Morley College in London studying tailoring if you didn’t know] but I have to carry everything I need with me on the train and Underground. All that fabric, canvas and linings are pretty heavy when I take everything, along with the weekly handouts, sewing equipment, a bottle of water, my reading book and the occasional healthy piece of fruit! (I would normally take my own lunch but I have to draw the line somewhere!)
I’ve been using various bags that are big enough so far but they sit on a shoulder or are just carried by hand and eventually that has become really tiring and uncomfortable-I had a car accident years ago which has meant I’ve had problems with my neck and shoulders on and off ever since. A small suitcase would be a step too far so the solution was to make something new…
Initially I was going to invest in some sturdy fabric but amongst all my stash I found two old pairs of jeans that my daughters had put out for the charity bag but they were just too tatty for that (the jeans, not the daughters!) Needless to say, I’d saved them “just in case” and now-about 5 years later-they were just the thing.
I had no firm idea of how the bag was going to look, or even go together, so I just chopped the legs off first to see more clearly what I had in fabric-terms. It needed to be big enough to carry all the stuff I had to take every Tuesday, and have a long enough strap to go around my shoulder and body.
Because jeans have ‘flat-felled’ seams which I thought could make an interesting feature I cut up the plain seams and opened the fabric out flat. The jeans were flared so the shape when flat started to give me an idea of having a slightly curved, slouchy bag with the strap coming from each end. I laid the bag I’ve been using each week on top of the fabric and found that, even when I trimmed away the raggedy bits, I should have enough for a bag without too much trouble.
Using my Patternmaster, I curved-off the lower edges because I decided they’d look nicer than corners and, to be honest, I was feeling impatient and wanted the bag made in double-quick time with the least technical hassle!
Like all jeans, the originals had patch pockets on the back which I thought would be useful so I hacked them off leaving a border of spare fabric. I positioned them to go inside the bag and then stitched them on using the spare border of fabric.
Basically I then just stitched the two parts together-twice for strength, and overlocked for neatness. To give the bottom some shape I turned the seams at the ‘corners’ through 90 degrees, so that one part lays on top of the other, and then I sewed across at another 90 degree angle-the photo hopefully makes this a bit clearer.
Next I needed a strap so I chopped the legs off the other pair of jeans although they weren’t long enough so they needed joining to extend them.
To make straps that are a finished width of 5cms the fabric needs to be 20cms wide to start with, i.e. 4 x 5cms wide. The two raw edges fold into the centre (as in the final photo) Stitch along the folded-in edge (you could do it twice for top stitching if you like)
The straps stitched into each of the ends of the bag securely with several rows of saddle stitch-an extra strong stitch, if your machine does it.
Obviously the bag needed a zip so I found a long metal zip from my stash and double-stitched that into the top edge. The finishing touch is a homemade tag on the puller so that it’s easier to open and close.
Finished!! It took no more than a couple of hours from start to finish and cost nothing at all!!
I’m hoping it will do the job-my only concern is if it pours with rain but then whatever I use would get wet anyway.
Doris modelling the finished bag