Thursday, November 11, 2010

Beginner Sewing: Simple Project for the Kitchen--A Bag Holder

Abundant Spring by Liv Carson

You can tell where I do my shopping by  the labels on the plastic bags here. These can be used again to line small trash cans in different rooms of your house, and a bag dispenser is just the thing to hold them before you use them one more time.

I never wanted one of these bags, which I noticed were frequently sold in catalogs and craft fairs. Someone made one for me as a gift, and I must tell you, it is a lot better to store those bags in, than it is to keep them elsewhere. It is easy to sew by hand or machine, and you can keep it on a hook on the back of your kitchen door.

I am making two of them here: one by hand stitching, and one by machine, just for demonstration. You will need a piece of fabric 20 inches long and 18 inches wide. In the picture above, that piece is folded in half the long way.  When you fold it in half, the short ends will be about 9 inches, and the long side remains 20 inches. The measurements do not have to be exactly what I have prescribed here. It just has to look the way you want it to. I used the same measurements as the one that was made for me by a friend, since I found it works just fine for me.

Double your thread and tie a double knot at the end. I find that quilting thread is better for some hand sewing projects because it is stronger.  Load up about 10 to 12 small stitches on your needle and pull them through. Straighten the fabric and repeat the stitches until you have sewn the 20 inch, or long side, of the folded fabric.

 Make several stitches back and forth in the same spot at the end, form a loop and pull your needle through it to make a knot, and cut your the thread. Get in the habit of pushing the needle into a pincushion automatically after cutting the thread.  Most sewing scissors will catch a needle, as they are magnetic, so if you think you dropped your needle, have a look at your scissors and see if it is clinging to them there.

You have just sewn something that looks like a tube, which you must turn inside out, so that the sewn side of the seam is now on the inside of the tube. You can see the outside of the seam here. The rough edges are on the inside of the tube of fabric you've just sewn.  Turn the edges down a fourth inch  and press with a hot steam iron on the cotton setting.

After you have ironed down the edge all around, fold it down again one fourth inch and press it again. Do this at both ends of the project, so that no raw edges are showing.

To figure out where I bought this Hamilton Beach iron, just look at the shopping bag labels, above. You could buy it elsewhere, if you wanted to pay more. It was an expensive iron, compared to what I am used to, but I am really tired of irons that leak, spurt water all over the place, get sticky residue on them, or quit after a year. I use my iron every day and it was worth it to pay more. I think it was $30.00 at the discount store, and to some people, that might be cheap, but it was the highest priced one there. I would have prefered a pale pink but could not locate one.

Thread your needle again and take several stitches at a time at the lower edge of the hem you ironed, as you see by the photo. Your needle has to catch all three layers of the fabric, which includes the folded edge and the main body of the project.  Sew all the way around one end of the tube of fabric and then take several stitches in the same place and tie off. Clip your thread.

When you sew around the other end where you ironed down your little hem, you have to stop early and leave a space, as you see above. Sew a knot by stitching several stitches in the same place,  and clip your thread. You have just made something called a casing, which is to pull your elastic through.

You will need some thin elastic. This kind is about 95 cents at Wal-Mart in the sewing department and is thin enough to pull through the 1/4th inch casing you have just made. If you have wider elastic, just make the casing wider by folding over a half inch or more and pressing it with a hot iron.

Cut a length of elastic four or five inches long.

Attach a safety pin through each end of the elastic.

Insert the safety pin through the gap that you left on the one end of the bag.

Grasp the casing (the part of the cloth you folded and sewed down) with one hand and feel the safety pin through the cloth with the other hand, wiggling it through. When the elastic is nearly pulled through, pin it with the safety pin on the end of it or use a straight pin, as you see here. Pin it firmly to the bag somewhere for now.
Keep pulling the safety pin until it comes through that gap area again and you are close to the pinned end of the elastic. It is supposed to gather up like this.

Undo the other pin and pin both ends of the elastic together, and then stitched back and forth through the elastic several times. Remove the safety pin and put it in your pincushion.

With knotted thread, take a few stitches, catching in the main fabric to the little hem, sealing up that gap that was made for the elastic. Sew several stitches in the same place back by pullin the needle and thread through and then inserting it back again into the same stitch. Tie it off, clip your thread.

You can add interesting matching trim at the open end of the bag, such as rick-rack or lace.

I've used sparkly white iridescent rick-rack here from the notions at Wal-Mart, and formed a loop at the end, securing it firmly with stitches at the end. Just sew the trim the same way you made the hem, using straight stiches on the outside of the bag.

Here's an example you might be able to see better, of the pin holding down the end of the elastic while the other end is being pushed through the casing.
You can make a loop out of ribbon if you like. Pin it down through both layers of ribbon, as you see, and stitch back and forth across with small stitches until you think it is secure.

 Leave your bag plain or sew contrasting trim around it. I thought these bags looked strange at first, but now that I've used them, I prefer them over any other kind of bag storage or holders, and I want one in the bathroom too. Hang the ribbon loop over a nail or hook or doorknob.  Fill it with  plastic bags and pull one of them through the elastic end of the bag.

 Bags look a lot better in your kitchen if they coordinate with other accessories such as placemats or curtains, hot pads, tea cozy, or towels. Making everything from the same fabric prints can make even the smallest kitchen look rich and inviting. You could even make this bag with a towel from the dollar store. Just take one of your choice, or one of their flour-sack towels, and fold it in half the long way. Join the two long sides together to form a tube. Since the hems are already there, just turn the lower one up one more hem and sew it in place, leaving a gap for the elastic.

There are probably other creative ways to do this by adding button decorations or anything you like.  If these instructions are not easy enough, do a web search for similar instructions.

I have included an idea sheet to share with you how I make my plans. First, I sit down and sketch out things I have in mind, partly so I won't forget, and partly to give me a clearer idea of what I wish to achieve. You can print out this page and get ahead of me if you like, but I will be including patterns and instructions whenever I get time.  Half of the page is for paper ideas and the lower half is for fabric projects. I do the same kind of sketching for things like tea party plans or hospitality, sketching out table arrangements or food products, so at a glance I can see what I need to do. I have used these idea boards for writing books or magazines and family type newspapers. I still intend to show a newspaper sometime soon. 

"...the hand of the diligent maketh rich." Proverbs 10:4a


Anonymous said...

My mother has one and I finally decided to make one because it works so well to keep those bags picked up and neat. I used a dishtowel for my fabric tube and made a casing at the bottom. I didn't have elastic, so I used bias tape for a drawstring. A little more bias tape for a hanging loop and I was set. A 'use what you have' type of useful project.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am going to make one of the bags today.

I like your suggestion to make everthing out of the same fabrics. I've seen patterns for making all kids of household accessories like appliance covers, curtains, etc. The cover of these patterns usually show a small kitchen made with everything in the same fabric and it always looks very nice.

Suzanne said...

Very nice tutorial, I made some years ago to house the plastic. I usually ask for paper bags if in the grocers, but the plastic ones we do use for the bathroom trash and for picking up the dog poop:-)

Anonymous said...

I love these and made lots of these and gave them to family members, but lost my own. Need to make another one for me. Thanks for sharing. Very practical.

A while back you showed us how to make a small tote bag. Now that the grocery stores are trying to eliminate plastic bags and are advocating and selling reusable grocery totes, I need to make some of those totes in a larger size and make them of washable fabrics.

Lydia said...

If you can find vinyl material anywhere, or oilcloth by the yard, it might make a very good totebag, however, a sturdy canvas might be good too, and is washable. Machine sew that one, as it will need some really strong stitches!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to make one of these. I think I'll make some for Christmas gifts along with the pincusions you already showed.
Thank you.

Lydia said...

Someone kindly suggested you look for a grainy type product called graphite, I think, to fill the pin cushion, because it sharpens the pins and is more solid on the table and wont knock over as easily.

Yes, you can thread through a ribbon or heavy string instead of using elastic and it would be much easier!

I just posted the planning sheet on this post so you can have a look at what might be coming.

Anonymous said...

A fine beginner project...& your photos are clear & easy to interpret. Good luck to those who want to give this a try. Making small & useful pieces like this can be addicting!


Lydia said...

I will post photos of the dishtowel version, which is much easier. You might not get to match your other accessories when you use that method, though, and so the fabric is a great advantage.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing. Nice project for beginners. I WANNA KNOW WHERE YOU GOT SUCH A COOL IRON. Love the fun pink colors. When my iron dies, I want to purchase a pink replacement.
Pleasssssssssssssssseeeeeeeeeee tell us where you found your fun iron. I can buy an iron as a tax right-off for my sewing business. Thanks dear.
L. Rose

Lydia said...

It comes from one of the WalMart super stores. I added a picture and a plug for the iron, in the main post.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I too love that great iron. I have gone through 3 irons in the past 3 years.

In my Titus 2 class I had each of my little girls get a small travel iron as part of her sewing implements because they will be using them to sew, learn mending, and most importantly ironing clothes. Not everything is permanent press and things just look nicer when they are pressed. I love your project plan sheet, its a wonderful idea.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for another good craft idea! These will make nice Christmas presents. We have a neighbor we exchange gifts with and we are both looking for homemade gifts to exchange the last couple of years. I know their taste in kitchen colors and design and this gives me plenty of time to find the best print for them. This will free up a drawer usually used for these bags too! :> Sarah

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lady Lydia

This is a good idea, that even an experienced home sewer can try, for sprucing up the kitchen.

My bag holder is in a Laura Ashley posh linen, made from a remnant I picked up at the sales. We have a branch of Laura Ashley Home near to my town. I don't mind that it does not match, as it is so lovely. I made 2 channels, top and bottom for the elastic in a contrasting linen/hemp.

Add a thin-to-medium layer of batting/quilting and then line the bag. This makes an insulated shopping bag, which can be used to transport frozen food or chilled items.

If you add a pocket on the front, you can use it for an umbrella, etc.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is lovely and inspirational, Lydia. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is lovely and inspirational, Lydia. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Oh how miserable to have a cheap, light iron, I agree!! The only kind I will buy is the one by Black & Decker called "The Classic". It has more metal than plastic, like the old-fashioned ones from decades ago, and works really well.

I had to go to K-Mart to find it. I actually look forward to ironing with it, it has a good, weighty feel, and is very fast at pressing things the first time you go over them.

Not pink, though! :)