gettin’ my craft on

A few years ago, Keith got me this great handmade bag by Canadian crafts-person who recycles fabric. I loved it, but parts of the construction were sloppy and frayed badly after some use. I kept it anyway, thinking that *someday* I’d reverse engineer it and make another.

The stars finally aligned, and *someday* was this week.

My local Goodwill store had a sale Monday, 50%-70% off everything in the store. How could I resist? I love shopping in thrift stores for several reasons: I’m cheap, the recycling concept makes me feel noble, it appeals to my punk rock aesthetic, and I like speculating about both the anthropological past and the potential future of an item (think who the hell would buy that new?!? and hmm, I could make _____ out of this).

I wish I’d had my phone with me to take pictures of some of the stuff I found. I almost bought a ceramic Tiki mug from Hawaii (perfect for summer umbrella drinks, don’t you think?) and an original vinyl record of the von Trapp Family Sing Christmas (perfect to make a gift box or a handbag).

I did buy two suit jackets, two dress shirts for lining and two ties for the straps. Add two days to deconstruct the old bag and write instruction notes in reverse, make paper patterns, cut up the suits (my stitch ripper got a workout, let me tell you) and the dress shirts, sew the pieces, and press and finish the seams, and voilà, two bags  and the pattern to make more.

To say I’m pleased with them is an understatement.

The colours are true in the first picture. The second bag is actually black with a deep burgundy silk tie. Both bags are about 10″ x 13.5″, and will fit an iPad plus other stuff like wallet, phone, yadda yadda. I’m going to keep one and sell the other…not sure which yet though.

Things I learned:

  • I remembered more about sewing than I thought I would. Thankfully.
  • Men’s suits are made waaaaay better than I thought. Took me forever to pick apart some sections.
  • Summer suits make lighter bags, but might be too floppy in the long run.
  • Wide ties are better.
  • Extra large garments= more room to maneuver the pattern. Easier to incorporate existing pockets into back or lining of the bags for extra storage.
  • How to do a French seam.
  • I am both cleverer and stupider than I think I am at any given point. For example, as I was thinking of a different/better way to assemble the front and back, I sewed the suit and lining back pieces together without adding in the tie strap. Get out stitch ripper. Again.

Keith thinks I should make some more and put them on Etsy. It might happen. After all, Goodwill is having a 75% off sale this weekend.

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