Baggies!

For a long time I took an apple in my lunch bag every work day. Recently I started branching out more, to fruit that I don’t want floating naked in the lunch bag – cherries, grapes, that sort of thing. There’s no room to add another rigid container, throwing out a plastic bag every day is wasteful, and washing plastic bags is a giant pain. The solution? Fabric! Throw them in the laundry every weekend and you’re set.

sewn "sandwich bags"

These bags are modeled after old fashioned (i.e., non-zippered) plastic sandwich bags and sized after the zip-top kind. You can’t turn them over and shake and expect their contents to stay put, but as a barrier between my clean grapes and my … also clean! lunch bag, they are more than sufficient.

I have made many such bags over the years and I don’t think I’ve every blogged the recipe, which is a shame because they are very simple.

For each 6.5″ square bag cut a 7″ x 16″ rectangle of cotton fabric. Fold the short edges to the wrong side by 3/4″ and then tuck the raw edges under; sew to secure. You are hemming the opening of the bag.

sewn, inside-out bag viewed flat looking inside the sewn, inside-out bag

Fold one short edge to the right side by 1.5″ to form the flap. Bring the opposite short edge up on top of it, almost to the flap fold line. Sew the sides at 1/4″ and then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

Turn the finished bag right side out and push out the corners. Fold the flap over so only the right side of the fabric shows. Done!

bag partially turned right-side-out bag turned fully right-side-out

Baggie Modifications

two bags with the selvedge showing

If you cut the rectangle with one short edge on a selvedge, you don’t need to fold it down, and your rectangle only needs to be 15.25″ instead of 16″. You can choose whether to have the selvedge inside the flap or at the end of the flap – it’s an artistic decision.

To make bags of different sizes, here is the formula:

Short side of rectangle: Finished width of bag + 1/2″
Long side of rectangle: (Finished height of bag * 2) + flap width + 1.5″

If one of your short edges is pre-finished, you can reduce the long side by 3/4″ — that 1.5″ is two 3/4″ hem allowances.

To be totally clear, for the bags pictured above the measurements were:
Short side of rectangle: 6.5″ + 1/2″ = 7″
Long side of rectangle: (6.5″ * 2) + 1.5″ + 1.5″ = 13″ + 1.5″ + 1.5″ = 16″

There are a couple of things to consider when resizing the bag: you’ll likely want a wider flap for a larger bag but you can’t reduce the flap by as much when making a smaller bag – keep it above 1/2″ wide. Also remember, for a smaller bag especially, that the sewn-down flap makes the opening a little narrower than the body of the bag. I made a small bag like this for a little bamboo eating utensil and sometimes it’s a struggle to get it in and out, though it has plenty of room once it’s inside.

The only key piece of construction is to remember the flap is on the inside when you’re sewing. Enjoy!

A little glamour in the morning

I’d been wanting a new lightweight robe for a while. My current one was a friend’s big pajama shirt originally, with the sleeves shortened. While it had a lot going for it, it wasn’t very long and it was flannel, so it was fairly warm. I was looking for something equally light or lighter and with a bit more coverage.

bathrobe, hanging up

My first thought was to use up some of my excess stash by patchworking a bunch of fabric together confetti-style and using it to sew a robe. Such a robe would take a long time to make, though, and need to be double-sided or else have a million exposed raw edges. Before I ever got started on that project we went to the thrift store. After picking up a crayon-colored dinosaur bedsheet I found a beautiful fabric shower curtain.

shower curtain laid out

It had a little fade on the edge of the teal band but otherwise no damage or discoloration. And let’s get a closeup on those branches.

shower curtain detail

So lovely! I used it for the same pattern I would have used with the pieced robe idea, previously used for my beloved bird jacket. The back of that jacket is in two halves, perhaps because the kimono-style sleeves make it hard to fit the full thing on a standard fabric width, but I joined them into a single piece (making it slightly wider in the process – I box-pleated the extra in at the neck). One advantage to using a shower curtain is that you’d rarely find a standard fabric with a design this large.

bathrobe on, from the back

I was only able to extend the pattern pieces by about an inch and a half, but I added the teal strip onto the bottom and finished a good six inches longer than the pattern. Plenty long for me. The leftover fabric from the opposite side of the curtain made the front edge band, and leftover teal became belt loops and a hanging loop at the top back. I bought the belt cord new.

bathrobe on, from the front
Professional bedhead. Do not attempt.

Every once in a while you start a project with an idea of how good it could be, and the project exceeds your expectations. I’m thrilled with this robe!

Shrugging it up

Over the summer I sewed a lot. Clothing items, from commercial patterns – each of those somewhat rare for me (aside from boxer shorts). Specifically, I made myself a collection of lightweight shrugs and jackets to keep in my desk drawer for when I’m just a little cool at work. Once the weather got cool enough that a heavier cardigan was part of my all-day outfit, I brought the jackets home for a wash and a fashion show. Then it rained every single weekend until winter, so here we are.

The first one I made may seem familiar – or not, since it was five and a half years ago that I blogged a photo of some lovely embroidered fabric, matching thread, and tiny matching buttons, with the announced intention of making myself a summer hat with them (and that was more than two years after I posted that photo on Facebook, before I ever had this blog!). I did give an update on the project, but that was still four and a half years ago. In June I came back to it, made another muslin, and realized the probability of getting something worth the very large amount of effort remaining was exceedingly low. I have a wide-brimmed straw hat, and while it’s a bit of a sail when the wind picks up, it’s probable that any other hat that shades me as much as I’d like would also have that problem. Anyway, without further ado:

yellow coverup-style jacket

The pattern was for a swimsuit cover-up (Simplicity 4192); I changed the front tie to a hidden hook and eye. It’s not terribly “me”, to be honest, and after the photo it went into a bag for donation, but no matter.

The second one, this and the first both sewn in July, has given me a good bit of use: a shrug out of very lightweight navy fabric I picked up at the Sew-op. There was a ton of that fabric and I had first made a shrug of the simplest type: essentially a tube with a lengthwise slit down the middle for your shoulders. That was pretty sloppy-looking on, though; I think that sort of shrug is better made of stretchy fabric so it can be smaller around. This second one was assembled from multiple pieces of fabric and has much more shape.

navy shrug-style jacket

Third – I was cooking! – was also made from Sew-op fabric. Unfortunately the fabric had many flaws, tiny pinholes to big tears, and I didn’t notice all of them before cutting out, but I adore it and its funny little birds. Believe it or not, this jacket was out of the same pattern as the navy shrug (Butterick 5529). I made it in August.

black and brown bird fabric jacket

I have yet a third Sew-op fabric to make into a jacket, from a third pattern, but the jacket’s structure and the limited amount of fabric will require me making a muslin to adjust the pattern ahead of time. That would merit a separate post even if I had already made it. Later!