This post regards was previously my favorite sheet set. Then the cats came along a couple years back and slowly, over many months, their little claws caused little holes that, with some unintentional help by me, ended up as huge gaping holes.
It’s not that they mean to do this. Unfortunately one of my cats is a little on the corpulent side and he needs a little grappling assistance to scale the mattress.
There’s the culprit. It’s a flattering photo. He actually quite massive. In any case, this past Sunday, I finally took scissors to the sheets. I could have made pillow cases…but that is so expected (and I thought maybe too challenging?). I decided to make bulk produce and grain bags.
1) CUT OUT THE CLOTH YOU WILL WORK WITH: I started out with the established side seams thinking this would give me an already finished edge and less work. I cut about sixteen inches down the entire length of the side seam. It seemed like a good size. Lucky for me, my sheets had stripes.
2) IRON: I then debated about whether I really needed to iron this for several minutes. I hate ironing. I am much more the spray and hang kind of girl. But the more I tried to lay the sheet flat to cut my panels, the more I realized this would be easier if I just ironed the darn thing. So I recommend it. If I can do it, so can you.
3) CUT INDIVIDUAL PANELS. Back from ironing, I could lay my sheet flatly on my cutting board and decide how big I wanted my bags. Here is where I remind people that I am not a sewer. At least not a good one. I am not even sure I am using the terminology correctly. Please correct me (nicely) if I am not. Also, I was kind of winging this project as far as size goes. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter that you make one the same size as mine, so I am not going to tell you to cut panels that are 16″H X 11″ W (11″ being the seam side) like I did. I am going to tell you to cut equal panels for the size bag you want to make, remembering that you might lose about an inch from both height and width after sewing. I ended up cutting 16″ X 11″ panels because that’s about the size of my cutting board and I found this long piece of cardboard that helped me cut a straight edge. If I had not come across this piece of cardboard, I guarantee my panel would have been much smaller. Also, I debated about whether I really needed to make two panels per bag, or one panel twice the width that I could fold in half and have one less seam. I finally decided to go with two panels because I like the idea of have a definite seam at each side. BUT, you could definitely save yourself some cutting and sewing by making one long panel (i.e, using my measurements above, 22″ W X 16″ H.)
3) MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CLEAN SEAM ON TOP: I then placed my two panels together. My sheets really didn’t have a front or back, but if yours did, you would want to make sure that the good side was facing in at this point. NOTE: if you decided to go with one long panel, skip to step 4, unless you need to stitch the top, then see the next note. NOTE: If you did not cleverly use a pre-made seam at the top of your bag, then the very first thing you want to do it fold each panel about 1/8 ” down and sew a seam across both tops separately. When putting the panels back together, the seams will be facing out (the good side will be facing in).
4) CREATE FINISHED EDGE FOR THE DRAW STRING: Once you have a clean edge on the top, you take both corners on one side and flip them back (away from each other) about a quarter inch. Sew down each side separately about an inch and a half. You are not sewing these two panels together, you are creating a finished edge on each panel, the purpose for which you can see in the last photo even though that is jumping several steps ahead.
5) SEW SIDE SEAM (on opposite side): After sewing these little seemingly random seams above, go to the opposite length and sew the panels together down the entire side.
6) TRIM YOUR SEWN SIDE: At this point you can trim the entire side seam or just notch it like I did below. You do this to make the next step easier, which is going to be adding your draw string. You can, of course, add your draw string later, but only if you want to plan a thoroughly aggravating and frustrating project for yourself. Add it here, it’s much easier.
7) ADD DRAW STRING: Once you have either trimmed or notched the seam you just sewed, spread out the now-connected panels seam side up. Spread your draw string across the top of the bag. I used a thick, candy-cane colored twine for your easy viewing pleasure. However, any substantive string or ribbon would work. Make sure it is about six to nine inches wider than the bag on EACH side (or at least a foot longer than the combined width of the bag). Fold the top down about 1/2 inch. You want to make sure and push your draw string all the way up into the crease. I would recommend pinning the draw string at the very top to make sewing faster, especially if you are using a flat ribbon that you cannot feel through the folded fabric. The important thing is to NOT sew the string. Sew below the string so that it will continue to move freely.
8) SEW REMAINING EDGES: Once you have completed sewing and confirm that your draw string moves freely, fold the bag back, good sides facing in and touching. Since you have already sewed back the remaining side by about 1/2″, I found it helpful to actually sew only about 1/4″ seam on this side now, otherwise the top where your drawstring comes out bulges a little too much. Begin sewing just under your top seam all the way down the side. Finish up with a final stitch along the bottom to close up the bag. Trim it up, flip it outside in, and you have a bag great for produce or bread! Here’s a tip since they’re not see-through:Take the sticker from the produce and apply to the outside of the bag to make the cashier’s life a little easier. Also, since these bags can be a bit weightier than polyester bags you can buy on-line, when you first get into a store with a digital scale, weigh the bags without anything in them so you know how much you have to take off the total weight.
9) USE BAG: My Husband, the (reluctant) hand model.
Other good uses: a shoe bag for travel, a lingerie/underwear bag for travel, a gift bag (great with pretty ribbon), or lunch bags.
And I realized that by starting small, I could now totally handle making nice pillow cases.
I also ended up making a cloth “sandwich” bag. I wanted to re-create that fold-over concept for bulk grains and dried fruit so that they wouldn’t fall out. I had two small-ish panels left over from what I had cut out above. These panels had no finished edge because I had to cut around some holes.
1) CREATE POCKET: So I started with one panel folded it down about 1/4 inch. I sewed a clean edge. (I should also have serged this edge, as I found out later when I flipped it back.) I then folded this side down about two inches, so that the clean edge is facing up. I then pinned this down and forgot about it for a while. DO NOT SEW THE BOTTOM EDGE OF FLAP TO THE PANEL. EVER. You are creating a pocket here.
2) CREATE FINISHED EDGES ON THE NON-POCKET PANEL: I then took the next panel and folded the top down 1/4″ and stitched and serged the top, and then did the same to each side (though not to the bottom.) Too late I found this fabulous link to make nice corner. Maybe next time. But I included the link above if you are feeling ambitious.
3) PUT BOTH PANELS TOGETHER: I then put both panels together. My pocket is facing in. On the other panel, the clean side is facing in. I then stitched both sides together. I flipped my panels over so that my previously sewn panel was on top so that I could follow those stitches down. If you are a better sewer than I am and you left yourself room on the outside of your previous stitch, you could do a nice double stitch. What you do not want to do, however, is sew on the inside of the previous stitch.
Finally, I stitched the bottom and flipped it inside out.
I decided I didn’t like the way the top flipped in on the sides, so I just sewed them down. Remember, I am not the world’s greatest sewer. But they turned out nicely.
I welcome comments and suggestions!