I finally had a sewing day – after a year and a half I finally had a full day to sew whatever I wanted. I woke up with high hopes, I wanted to make a muslin for my first pair of persephone pants. I bought the pattern last spring, and had absolutely no time to make them with all the moves, but this Saturday was the day I could start.
And then… we had no printer paper, so I couldn’t print out the pattern. So I thought I could drop by the store to pick up some paper and a glue stick, but then I remembered I didn’t have a car! My husband was off working a climbing competition all day (which was the reason I could have the whole day to sew in the first place). So, car-less and paper-less, I abandoned my plans to start on my beloved pants.
Thankfully, I had a back up project – the Japanese Style Linen Tote project bag from Makine Zine no. 6 Black and White. Usually I carry around my sweater projects in those larger reusable grocery bags (pressed plastic fabric, anyone?). These bags are functional, but they’re 100% ugly and rip easily. I wanted to house my beautiful knitting projects in something equally as beautiful – so these totes were a high priority. It’s almost like fate said “You don’t need new pants… you do need a project bag.” Thanks fate for setting my priorities straight.
I found some beautiful larger pieces of upholstery wool at Nashville’s creative reuse shop called Turnip Greens. This place is packed with secondhand materials. They operate on a “pay what you think is fair” philosophy, So I bought two pieces of wool (and some other odds and ends) for $2 – which is the cash I had in my wallet.
Just as I was ready to cut out my fabric, I realized I was missing something. My fabric scissors. I left them in St Louis in my sewing basket, which houses all my other sewing tools. All I had were old paper scissors. And a loop turner. No pins, no sharp scissors, no marking tools, no rotary cutter, no seam ripper (NO SEAM RIPPER).
I was determined to finish at least one bag, so I set out with my baby paper scissors and cut out my pattern from my thick upholstery wool. I’m used to cutting corners – almost every sewing project is an exercise in “how can I not follow the pattern and just use what I have.” I was already doing a TON of improvising. First, I was using wool instead of linen for the main fabric. Second, I never use interfacing, so I sewed old reusable bags and old denim to the lining to stabilize the bag. Third, the handles call for webbing, but I used stabilized upholstery fabrics instead. So, adding my lack of tools to my already improvised day didn’t seem like quite a stretch. I managed, heck, I had fun! So much fun that I was able to make two bags.
The pattern includes a beautiful bit of sashiko embroidery – but seeing as I had no hand sewing needles, I left the decorative patches off and kept my bags simple. On the second bag, I added a little selvage fringe to one of the seams. I love this little detail! I also love that these two bags are fraternal twins – made from the same materials but with totally different looks.
These bags are perfect; made from secondhand materials that cost me probably $4 total. I am always surprised that I can make beautiful things from discarded items. Even though I’ve been on this reclaimed craft journey for over two years now, it still surprises me that I can do it and that these materials are just out there waiting to be used. I’m stoked about these bags – and I can’t wait for my next sewing day to see what secondhand things I’ll create next.