Friday, December 19, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

(Or more properly, the seventh day of my Christmas preparations. )

Last night, after being so glum about the snow melting, I mentioned my doubts about more snow on this blog, then I shut down the computer. And shortly afterwards-- look outside!
BIG flakes! Bigger than last time! And look what we woke up to this morning! Winter wonderland. The light is wonderful when there is snow- almost like a summer light. It makes us more energetic and happy.
Here are some gifts with the gift cards on top instead of ribbons and bows. I was sending these away so it was better not to try to get a bow in the package just to be crushed.

Now for the big project of the day. I found a list on a blog for several different shopping bags. I wanted to do a bit of embellishment on them, or use up my scraps and do a patchwork outer edge and solid lining. I liked a lot of them, but I did not have the strong fabrics they called for.

Since time is short to sew, I chose this one, modeled after a plastic grocery sack. Yes, I know, it does not sound very special! And if you read the instructions, you can tell it was not meant to be. However, since I am using it as a Christmas gift, I wanted to make it look nice. Besides, I think that the newest trend will be shopping bags that reflect the individuality/personality/style/favorite colors of the owner. I also dislike the feeling of the shopping bags they are now selling at the stores. They are poly-something-or-other and I just cannot stand to hold one for long.


Here is my variation on the pattern I chose:

First, I made the bottom of the bag on the fold. I was too nervous about my seams ripping out on the bottom. I felt better if I did not have to make a stitch there. So I ended up with a long rectangle that was the same size as stated in the pattern. Before sewing the side seams up, though, I added a little strip pieced patchwork.

I ironed the sack then sewed the strip to the crease mark. I dislike pinning, so I try to get away without having to do it as often as I can!


After I sewed that, I flipped it over and had one nice clean edge that I did not have to fiddle with. I did not want to applique this piece on, and this way it stayed straight.

I turned the top edge under and top stitched it to the sack. I top stitched the bottom of the patchwork too, not because I had to secure it, but because it looked more consistent.
I thought of adding buttons, which would have been cute, but they might catch on the sides of a shopping cart, so I left them off.
I sewed up the side seams, and since I was nervous about the strength of these seams I did a french seam, and then top-stitched it. If this bag bursts, it will have to get through three sections of stitching first.



When I got to the step in the pattern where you are to make the pleat, I thought, "Uh oh! This is why they did not have a fold at the bottom of the bag." But then after fiddling with it, the light bulb went off in my head (or maybe that was the one in my room.... if someone slams a door in the house just right, that extra bulb on the light fixture comes on. Makes things much brighter!) and I figured I could just tuck and tack the pleat in.




Here you see the finished result! My serger was not cooperative, so I satin-stitched the top edges. I did four bags for two shoppers on my list! I hope they will tell me how long these bags stand up to wear and tear. I do not know the strength of these bags, since they are just made of muslin. I am sure it would not be wise to carry home a watermelon or a 25 pound frozen turkey in them. But for your average sack of lettuce and loaf of bread, they might just do!
I could have made a similar bag that was lined, but I did not have time. Here is the link in case one of you happens to want it. I wonder if it would be even stronger.
I am tempted to make some for myself. However, I have noticed that in the baby stages of life, those plastic bags come in mighty handy. I recycle them by lining all the waste bins with them, and they are great for diapers and for the car trash too.

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