Friday, 16 November 2012

How to upcycle a canvas bag

If you, like me, have a day job (that's why my posts are unfortunately a little rare these days...), you may also go to conferences and exhibitions. Even if you don't have a job, you may anyway go to places where now the "eco-gadget" of choice is...a canvas bag.
I found at home at least 10, and more in my office...I work in the environmental industry, so you would expect us to have LOTS of canvas bags laying around...
So, how to upcycle these bags and make them prettier - since they usually have branding printed on the front, and they are not very pretty?

This what how I have done it.

1. I wanted to cover completely the printed branding on the front of the bag, so I've chosen enough fabric scraps to make a panel to stitch on it, some applique' birdies, and some ribbon for decoration.

2. I cut the background fabric to the same size of the front of the bag, plus hemline. I then chose and cut the other contrasting fabrics to add to it. I pressed the hemlines (speeding up the process to make a clean hem without basting...) all around. I chose the fabric for the applique' birdies, cut the outline shape (you can find the original idea and pattern for the birdies in the delicious Country Kitty's blog here), and pinned them on the main panel.

3. I then applied the birdies to the main panel, using a very dense zig-zag for the main body, and a loose regular stitch for the wings, beaks and legs. My mum helped making the birdies' eyes by hand-stitching french knots on them. Finally, I stitched the ribbon and block-coloured panel to the main panel.

4. After my failed attempt to stitch the work on the bag by machine (I haven't got the right machine to reach the bottom of the bag with ease), my mum very sweetly offered to hand-stitch it (what would I do without my mum...???)

...and that's it, really!

The bag has now been given as a present to my little sister who is using it as a lunch bag.

If I survive this end of year madness (including work over-load, moving house and pre-Christmas frenzy) I'll make more of those as little presents...they are so sweet, aren't they?

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