Sunday, April 29, 2012

Week 17 or Braided Handles

Years ago, before I had kids, I did yoga every week. Sometimes even twice! I went so far as to make yoga mat bags to sell at the studio. I even sold a few. I went out and bought material to make more. I cut out parts and finished the edges, did all the simple stuff short of committing to putting together the bags. I think the teacher still has a half dozen that didn't sell before I moved out of town, the studio moved and we fell completely out of touch.

I still have several sets of material that never got sewn up. This week, I was thinking of making one of the many patterns I've bookmarked from my web crawlings. Then life got the better of me and I ended up wracking my brain trying to think how not to make another plain old bag with webbing or matching fabric handles. Or worse yet, another t-shirt bag. Which seem like a cop-out, in addition to not getting rid of any fabric.

The girls are off at a birthday party right now with Dad. As usual, I got tasked with wrapping the present. Instead of reaching for the paper, I reached for the fabric which spills forth from my closet shelves. A pretty, thin, cotton print with pink and blue flowers and green leaves on a white background that barely peeks through them all. I was going for a Japanese look, for the Furoshiki effect. The sellers claim it's eco-friendly, but in my mind that only applies if you're not BUYING MORE STUFF!!! And no way am I shelling out $16+ when I have fabric and a sewing machine with a rolled hem foot. So I took my length of this fabric and cut off a few inches from one side to make it a square. Then I hemmed it and wrapped up the present.

So I'm here, alone in the house at last. You're thinking I get right to business making my bag. Ha! I grab a slice of chocolate chip sour cream cake (trade for an earlier bag) and watch a few minutes of a Sunday afternoon PBS cooking show. Some guy making meringue tubes with 5 raspberries just so and a spoonful of raspberry sorbet. They take like 40 hours from start to finish. I'll file that one away for when I live in the dessert and the kids are off in college.

I know I want to use the scrap of flowered furoshiki to make the handle. It's so thin that it needs help to be up to the task. I debate doubling it, adding a layer of plain webbing in the middle. Nah. I go for a braid, since it's just wide enough for three strips that will go through my 1" bias tape maker and just long enough for cutting in half and making two handles.

Then I look at the yoga mat bag bits. Brown corduroy, tan denim, maroon with elephants. At last I spy the black windowpane check. It's rather thin and probably would not have made a good mat bag, but it was a present and you don't just throw away fabric. Well, its moment in the sun has arrived. The black is a nice foil for the spring-like handles. I was really happy to find that the edges were all finished, so I didn't have to sew French seams or break out the borrowed serger again. Attached to it were a rectangle originally destined to become a water bottle pocket, and a black circle that was to be the bottom of the mat bag. I put the circle back on the shelf and decided to add a little inner pocket to an otherwise standard grocery bag. If you're not picky about wrinkles, you can turn it all inside out and stuff the bag into the pocket. I would include a picture of that, but I just spent 10 minutes ironing the edge into place and I'm not about to waste that time.

All in all, I'm happy with the way it all turned out. The only thing I don't like is that the windowpanes are a little wider than they are tall. Which is only because I used it with the selvedges running around the bag instead of top to bottom. If that doesn't bother you, it's all yours. The finished bag is 10" x 5" x 13" high. A little smaller than my other grocery bags, but still large enough to hold more than Market Basket baggers ever put in a plastic bag. And as Edward Humes, author of Garbology, said in his interview with Terry Gross, in response to the question "paper or plastic?": ""The correct answer is neither, if you want to have the best solution." This one is light and thin enough to stuff in your backpack or large purse.

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