Growing up in a rather crafty family with a mother who had the capability to make everything we ever needed, has given me a very imaginative mind. I absolutely love creating new things, especially when they are repurposed out of old. There is nothing better than realizing you just made something yourself that serves a purpose in your home and you saved another object from being thrown away, never to be seen again. I recently discovered the Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule and fell in love with some of her crafts. And these are not just random pull-the-kids-together crafts, these are fun things that you can create to make your life more natural, green and all around more inviting.
Today is all about the Bag Rag. It's handy to hold stained clothing, old towels and stray socks that have become your new cleaning rags. Most of us have begun solely using paper towels, but let's remember that by using cloth instead of paper we can help our environment and get the house much cleaner (cloth cleaning rags are much more absorbent, versatile and effective). And this bag will be a great place to house your rags as they wait to be put to use! So, if you're handy with a sewing machine, take this project on! Soule recommends using material that you have already, such as cotton tablecloths or any cotton, canvas or linen fabrics.
Here's what you'll need:
Fabric 1: (1) 12" x 28" for the bag
Fabric 2: (6) 4" x 10" scraps for the balls
Embroidery floss: (6) 30" long
Embroidery floss: (6) 6" long
Double-fold extra-wide bias tape for straps: (2) 18" long
Double-fold extra-wide bias tape for the drawstring: (1) 30" long
Buttonhole foot for sewing machine
Here's how to do it:
- Gather all materials and cut all fabrics to the measurements given.
- Begin by making the fabric balls. Taking one piece at a time, wrap the raw edge under itself and begin to roll the fabric. Tuck the ends as you go along, forming the fabric into a rounded and tight ball shape.
- Then using the 30" length embroidery floss in a color of your choosing, wrap the fabric ball tightly to keep it's round shape. Wind until you have a 4" length of the embroidery floss left, and then tie a knot to the other end of the strand. Cut away the excess floss. Repeat this step for all six balls, and set them aside.
- Fold the bag fabric piece in half lengthwise, with right sides together, so that it measures 12" x 14". With the fold at the bottom, sew a seam down both 14" sides. Trim both seams close to the stitching without cutting into the stitches.
- Turn the bag right side out. Along the bottom fold, measure and mark six evenly spaced points with a pencil. The marks will be approximately 1 1/2" apart.
- Attach the fabric balls. Thread a needle with 6" of embroidery floss. Coming from the inside of the bag, pull the needle out just slightly to one side of one pencil mark along the bottom seam, leaving at least a 2" tail inside the bag. With the needle, pick up a few strands of the embroidery floss and a bit of fabric on one of the fabric balls. Place the needle just to the other side of the marked pencil spot of the bag, and pull the needle to the inside of the bag. Remove the needle from the floss. From the inside, pull both ends of the strand tightly to bring the ball to the edge of the fabric fold. Tie the ends securely with a double overhand knot. Cut the excess floss. Repeat this step for all six fabric balls.
- Hem the Bag top. At the top of the bag (still right-side out) fold the raw edge toward the inside 1/4". Press. Edgestitch.
- Make the buttonholes. Choose one side of the bag to be the front. Place the buttonholes by measuring approximately 5 1/2" in from each side and 3" down from the top; mark this spot lightly with a dot in pencil. Using this dot as the top point for the two vertical buttonholes, measure 1/2" lower than the dots and mark a straight line, 1/2" long, moving from the top measurement toward the bottom of the bag. This line is your buttonhole guide.
- Create two buttonholes using your machine's buttonhole foot and instructions. Cut each buttonhole open with sharp scissors or a razor.
- Make the drawstring casing by folding 2" of the top edge toward the inside of the bag. Press. Edgestitch. This will cover the back of your buttonholes, creating a casing. Complete the casing for the drawstring by stitching around the entire top of the bag, 1" down from the top folded edge. This line of stitching should be at the top of the buttonholes.
- Make the straps by stitching an 18" length of bias tape close to the edge to close the binding. (TIP: to prevent the bias binding from slipping into the plate of the sewing machine as you begin to sew, hold the thread from your bobbin and spoon taut as you begin stitching. Use these threads to guide and gently pull the binding until the seem gets started.) Trim each edge with pinking shears. Repeat this process for the second strap.
- Along the casing stitching on the inside of the bag, measure out 2 1/2' from both sides of each vertical seam. Pin both ends of one strap to the front of the bag; pin both ends of the other strap to the back of the bag. The ends of the strap should just touch the casing stitching. Stitch the straps in place with a zigzag stitch.
- Now let's finish her up! Make the drawstring by stitching the 30" length of bias tape close the edge to close the binding. Trim each end with pinking shears. Secure one end of the drawstring to a large safety pin and place it inside one of the buttonholes. Using the safety pin to guide the drawstring through the casing, work the drawstring around the bag and out through the second buttonhole. Work slowly and carefully when you get each side seam to get the the drawstring past the seam fabric. Adjust and center the drawstring, tying it in a decorative bow. Remove the safety pin.