Thursday, 10 March 2011

Is this the start of my Summer Collection

I have taken note of the advice from the Arts Centre, as to the type and design of bags that might sell best. Rounded bottoms, bigger than a handbag, and long handles that can be worn over one shoulder. Not my choice of handle length, but if that's what they want......

Before I start a bag I have to wait untill an idea pops into my head. This one has been floating around for about a week, I almost changed it half way through, but no, I stuck with the design I first thought of. I was visualizing frothy and blue. As you know I like to use recycled materials, can you guess what I made these seven blue flower shapes from?

A empty plastic container of car wash liquid. I collect colourfull plastics, have been know to fish them out of the hedge bottom. A windy day on a Monday is best, when the bin men empty the red bins, and drop half of it on the road, ha ha.

I used a bag that my sister gave me as a template, the fabric is the same as I used for the lining of the last cat food pouch bag, a curtain from a charity shop.

I should say at this point that this is not a full tutorial, but it should give you a few ideas if you would like to have a go yourself. Mark the centre of the fabric and put two pleats either side, on both pieces back and front.

Hand sew a few stitches along the top edge and about two inches down on the inside of each pleat, to keep them in place.

Next, using this as a template, I cut four pieces of plain cream coloured cotton fabric, which I pulled out of the skip last week, and washed. Two for back and two for front. These will be sandwiched between the lining and the outside, to make the bag stronger. You could use any plain fabric because it will be hidden. You could possibly get away with one layer inside depending on the thickness of the fabric. Pin the layers to the bag.
I haven't taken any pics of the next bit so I will try and explain it. I have some pale blue offcuts of thin floaty type fabric which I cut into strips, then did a row of running stitch along one edge and gathered it up tight to make a ruff and sewed it into a circle. The edges will not fray so it doesn't need hemming.
I arranged the ruffs on the bag in the pattern which I thought looked best, put the blue flowers on top, and a red bead on each one. The beads are round and flat, from a necklace I bought for £1 from a junk shop. These I hand stitched on going through all three layers.
The lining is a silky sarong that someone gave me, the colours matched and it is ideal. I am never going to wear a sarong anyway, would look awful with my skinny frame :0) Cut two pieces the same shape and sew the lining together.
After sewing the back and front together, and turning it the right way, insert the lining, and pin it around the top edge. My bag was a bit too long so I have folded two inches inside.
Loads of pins to keep it in place.

Next make the handles, as long or as short as you like. I used the hems from the sides of the curtains for the insides (try not to waste anything), and cut long strips to cover them.
Two rows of machine stitching around the top, and my name inside.

The bag is finished......

It's exactly as I imagined it. Measurements are 15 inches from top to bottom, and 16 inches across at the widest part. It's lovely, my sewing skills are improving and I am very pleased.


  1. lovely tote...the pleats give it a high end touch...makes me want to make one too!

  2. You could expend your experience a little by putting a zipper pocket in the lining so things can be 'zipped away' for safety. See if you can work out how to so it!!

  3. Wow Ilona this one is very chic. It may be recycled but it certainly looks 'designer'. You do inspire me to make more bags and I have been collecting bits and bobs for some time now... but just never seem to get the time to actually make the bags. Soon... soon.

  4. Very jolly! This has a very retro feel about it, I must be thinking of those nylon nighties worn in the 60's :-D
    Nice work Ilona.

  5. What a fantastic looking bag!! Nobody would even know it`s made from recycled items. You certainly have some truely fab ideas!!

  6. Who's a clever girl?! That's beautiful, and so contemporary. Not to mention its green credentials...Well done!

  7. You are so clever - I love that stripey material, it looks really chic. Its amazing what you can find in charity shops, etc!

  8. I love the pleats and the rounded bottom! Ha. It looks so 'designer'.

    Radley watch out!

  9. That's a very nice bag Ilona, and speaking personally I think the Arts Centre have it right about the rounded bottom and shoulder straps. It strikes me that you could make one in the colours of your local soccer club, or maybe of you favourite political party

  10. Ilona I absolutely love this bag - you're very talented!! ADORE those flowers!! It looks so professional. xx

  11. I love this bag, the pleats really make itand the flowers look amazing. You have inspired me to get my sewing machine out again. That means I will have to put all my card making stuff away as I cant have more than one hobby taking over the table at a time. I tell myself that you cant be both creative AND tidy, thats my excuse for the chaos that surrounds me anyway LOL.

  12. I really appreciate your comments, thank you. Eileen, I know what you mean, my card making bits are in the cupboard. I have just had a tidy up of my fabric, and of course I have never got the colour I need.

    A pocket would be nice, thanks for the suggestion silver sewer. I hate putting zips in though, maybe velcro would do the job.

    I'm taking this one to the Arts Centre tomorrow. They have emailed me to say the cat bag has sold, and can I make some more. Groan, spose I could, ha ha.

  13. Great bag. Happy to hear the cat bag is sold. The best part is if you make more you are adding to "your purse" :-)