Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bags and Slippers

This Christmas I decided to try to cut down on the paper waste that always seems to encroach. I used this pattern and a bunch of stashed red and green fabric, plus about 6 yards I bought from the sale bin at JoAnn. My idea was to make red bags and green bags so the tree would look festive & Christmasy, but not red-and-green bags that would look too Christmasy if people wanted to use them AFTER the holiday for shopping bags, which is the intent--reusability and reduction of waste.

As one of my colleagues, an Environmental Science teacher, says: There's a reason "Recycle" comes third on the list.

It went very well, I must say. By the end of the project (e.g. this morning) I was able to cut out and sew a bag in about 20 minutes. If I was assembly-lining them, I think I could bring the average down to about 15 minutes. They're not the sturdiest tote bags of all time--the seams aren't reinforced or anything, but they're great for quick gift bags and would hold some light groceries and shopping.

And, if you make them out of quilting cotton, they fold up small enough to fit in a purse or pocket. Because, I don't know about you, but I have about a hundred canvas sacks that I always forget to take with me. We take them grocery shopping, but I'm always finding myself without them when I'm running other errands, like to the fabric store or for office supplies.

Each bag is made with just half a yard of 44" fabric and very little waste. It's a smart and simple pattern, and very suitable for making with kids. If you have a serger (which I do but have never gotten to work right, grrr) you could serge all of the seams and raw edges for more durability and "finishedyness".

The other sewn gift I made was a pillowcase for my daughter. For Christmas, we had bought her a small sit-up-in-bed-and-read pillow and it was going to be hard to wrap. My first thought was to make a large-size version of the gift bags I was already making, but that seemed impractical. Then, I thought to wrap it in a pillowcase.

My son and I had made him a special pillowcase a few months ago and it was super easy, so I took some leftover fabric from some doll clothes I made last summer and some grosgrain ribbon and made her one, too. I used this pattern. It was, again, very clear and straightforward, but there was more waste than I had hoped for, mostly because the pattern paid attention to the grain of the fabric more than I cared about. If I did it again, I'd cut the large rectangle on the cross grain (full width of the fabric) unless I were using a fabric that would look bad that way.

Adventures in sewing! I don't sew as much as I knit, mostly because hauling all of the equipment out is a pain and knitting is so quiet and portable, but sewing is my first crafting love, and once I get started it's hard to stop. I can see the tote bags becoming a go-to project and keeping stacks of them instead of wrapping paper.

So that brings the craftiness total for Christmas 2009 to: 3 pairs of slippers, a bunch of gift bags, and a pillowcase. Oh, and I almost forgot, I also gifted a hat to my dad that I made a few months ago and kept all this time! (Plus I made a ridiculous reject of a hat that I will need to write about separately.)

What did you make, if anything, for the holidays?

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