Tag Archives: repurposed denim

Tutorial – the Oma tote bag and yarn pouch

Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

Last year I had my first pattern published in a magazine called ‘Love Sewing Australia’.  I decided that, with the cooler weather approaching, it was time to share it with you.  The pattern is for a tote bag with a matching Yarn bag (to carry wool for knitting or crochet projects) but can be adapted to many uses.

For those of you who don’t know the story, my grandmother, Oma, is now 99 years old.  Last year, when she was turning 98, she asked if I could make her a new bag that she could use to carry her glasses, her water bottle, her cushion (she is tiny!) and other important things.  Her instructions were that the bag was not to be an ‘old lady bag’.  I mused over this for a while, then made this bag for her.

Oma bag|a little bird made me

The original Oma bag

My Oma spent many hours teaching me to sew, to embroider, and to enjoy other handcrafts when I was young, so dedicating this pattern to her was a small way of showing her how grateful I am that she contributed to my love of making!

My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.

My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.

Intro:

This project shows you how to upcycle that old worn out pair of jeans into a gorgeous bag that you can use for going to the office, on a weekend adventure, or to the shops.  The accessory yarn bag is perfect for knitting or crocheting on the go, with your yarn accessible but protected from dust and dirt, and from escaping and rolling across the floor of the bus, train, classroom or office.

Top tips:

Using the pockets of your jeans as a feature on the outside of your yarn bag adds a useful outer pocket that can also hold your phone, crochet hooks or a small pair of scissors.

The seam allowances in this project are 0.5cm.  If you are more comfortable with wider seam allowances the project will still work, as long as you are consistent and use the same seam allowance on all seams.

Fusible fleece is often sold without instructions on how to attach it.  To attach your fleece, heat your iron to the temperature appropriate for the fabric that you are attaching the fleece to.  Lay the fleece on the ironing board, with the glue dots facing up, then lay the fabric you are attaching on top of the fleece, covering the fleece completely, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Lay a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top of the two layers and using your iron, begin in the middle of the piece and iron out towards the corners using a slow steady motion.  You will need to repeat this a couple of times to ensure that the fleece has adhered well.  Do not rest the iron in one spot for too long as you may scorch your fabric.  Don’t let the fleece touch your iron as it will make a sticky mess of your iron plate.  Let it cool before sewing the now fused fleece and fabric.

Materials

Outer

1 pair denim jeans, or  0.5m of denim, canvas or decorator weight fabric

0.25 m feature fabric (quilting cotton is used here)

Lining

0.5m quilting cotton, homespun or broadcloth

36cm Vilene H640 fusible fleece

A zip that is at least 30cm long.

A piece of stiff interfacing 9cm x 28cm

Tools

Iron

Sewing Machine (Zip foot optional)

Ruler

A rotary cutter and mat is useful but not essential.

 

Dimensions

Oma Tote – Base 25cm wide x 10cm deep.  Bag 30 cm long x 34 cm wide.  Straps 54cm long x 4cm wide.

Yarn Bag – 23cm x 23cm

 

Cutting

Repurposing Denim jeans

To prepare your denim jeans for repurposing, cut the inner leg seam on both legs, then up the front centre seam and around the zip.  This will enable you to lay your fabric out flat and assess which pieces are most suitable for use.  Check wear around knees, the seat, and the inner thigh.  This does not mean that you can’t use the fabric, but you may need to add reinforcing with fusible interfacing.

If your fabric has a stretch to it, it is useful to have the grain across the width of the pieces you cut to increase stability.

 

Denim Pieces

Bottom – 35.5cm x 12.5cm (2)

Top –  35.5cm x 6.5cm (2)

Straps –9cm x 50cm (2)

Internal pockets 20cm x 25cm (1) and 10cm x 25cm (1).

Base – 18cm x 28cm (1)

Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1) (NB. I included the back pocket of the jeans within the square which adds both a feature, and a useful pocket to the outside of the yarn carrier.)

Lining fabric

Lining cotton – 35.5cm x 35.5cm (2)

Yarn bag lining – 24cm x 24cm (2).  (NB you may need to join some fabric together in order to create the lining pieces but this will not affect the bag.)

Feature fabric

Bag – 35.5cm x 19cm (2)

Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1)

Fusible fleece interfacing

Bag – 34 cm x 34 cm (2)

General Instructions – Yarn Bag

This is a pouch that will carry two balls/skeins of yarn with openings to allow you to use the yarn while protecting it from dust, dirt etc.  A bag like this means that you can crochet or knit wherever it suits you!

1. The first step is to insert your zip. A zip foot is useful for this, but not necessary.   Take your square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip.  The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other.  Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side.  Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim.  This is often described as a zip sandwich.  Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge 0.5cm from the edge.

Oma Tote and yarn Bag|a little bird made me

The Zip sandwich – denim, zip and lining

Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

  1. Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down. Repeat the same step with the feature fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.
  2. Using an iron press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat.Oma Tote and yarn Bag|a little bird made me By topstitching along the edge of the seam, the lining won’t get caught in the zip when you are using the bag. To do this measure 2.5cm from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop 2.5cm from the other end.  (If you sew across the whole edge of the zip you will not be able to create neat corners when you put the sides of the bag together.)  Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.
  3. Now you will create the yarn feeding holes in your bag. Measure and mark with chalk or a sewing marker  two points on the lining on the feature fabric side of the bag that are 7.5cm from each edge, and  5cm from the zip and fabric seam.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meThese are the starting points for your buttonholes.  Using your preferred technique for making a button hole, make two buttonholes that start at those points and are 1.5cm long.

 

  1. In order to assemble the yarn bag you should open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip. Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the outer fabric together and match up their edges.  This won’t look nice and flat and neat due to the buttonholes, but is still very manageable given the amount of fabric involved.  The teeth of the zip should be facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.

 

  1. You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about 5 cm below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining. When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric up a bit so that instead of sewing in a straight line you feel as if you are sewing a curve.  This is to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. Once you have sewn the edges of the bag, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed. Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.

 

  1. Then turn your bag inside out, or outside in, so that the outer fabric is facing out and the lining is tucked in the bag. It will be a little wriggly due to the buttonholes, but it will happen without too much commotion.  Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly.  A chopstick is very handy for both operations.  Then either handstitch the side seam in the yarn bag closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.

 

  1. You can now place your yarn in the bag, with the ends poking out through the buttonholes, so that you can use your yarn without the balls rolling away across the floor of the train, bus or lounge that you are in. If you are likely to use more than two colours at a time you could place a third buttonhole in the bag to allow for three colours.

 

General Instructions – Oma Tote

  1. The first step in creating your tote is to piece together the fabric for the outside of the bag. Pin the long edge of one bottom piece of denim (35.5cm x 12.5cm) to the long edge of a piece of the feature fabric (35.5cm x19cm) with the right sides together.  Sew a 0.5 cm seam along this edge then press the seam down towards the denim piece, and top stitch along the denim piece about 0.5cm from the seam.  You can choose to use a coloured thread to make a feature of the stitching, and may like to add a second line of stitching 1 cm parallel to the first line to give it a nice finish.  I used white thread here, so it blends into the denim and can only be seen subtly.

 

  1. Then pin the long edge of the top piece of denim (35.5cm x 6.5cm) to the long edge of the feature fabric with the right sides together and sew them together with a 0.5 cm seam. Again, press the seam towards the denim piece and top stitch on the denim 0.5 cm from the seam.

 

  1. Repeat this with the denim and feature fabric for the other side of the bag.

 

  1. You now have two pieces measuring 35.5cm x 35.5cm. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me. Place your squares of fusible fleece (34cm x 34cm) onto the wrong side of each piece, and apply following the manufacturer’s instructions. My tip on the way to attach the fleece is that when you are preparing the fabric and fleece for ironing, you should check that the fleece is on the bottom, with the glue dots facing up, then the fabric is on top, with the wrong side facing the fleece, and then a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top.  This will help to ensure that the fleece is well adhered to the fabric.  The fleece is smaller than the outer piece to reduce the bulk of your seams.
  1. Once the fleece is attached, place these two pieces together with their right sides facing each other, and match the seams on each side and pin them in place. Sew from the top edge of the top denim down the side, across the bottom and back up the other side with a 0.5 cm seam.
  1. Now you are going to make the corners of the bag. With the fleece side still facing out, fold the bottom corner of the bag  so that the bottom seam and the side seam are lined up over each other, and the sides of the bag are pushed out into a triangle shape.  Pin this corner in place. Measure a point 4cm (1.5 inches)from the point of the corner along the seam, and then mark a line across the bag that should measure 8cm (3 inches). Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meRepeat this with the remaining corner and then sew a seam, reinforcing with a second row of stitches, along the marked line.  Trim the excess fabric so that a seam allowance of about 1cm is left.
  1. This is the time to make and insert the base of the bag. Adding a base gives your bag some stability, without too much rigidity. Take your base piece of denim and fold it in half width wise so that you have a piece 9cm x 28cm.  Insert your stiff interfacing inside the folded piece and either fuse it, or simply sew it in place.  I used a fusible interfacing, and then zigzagged around the edges to hold everything in place. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. To insert the base line it up along the base of your bag so that the ends slightly overlap your corner seams. Attach the base to one corner of the bag by sewing through the existing corner seam, and the base so that the base is connected at the corner of the bag.  Then, ensuring that you have the base flush with the bottom of the bag, repeat the same method on the other side of the bag.  Trim away the excess from both the base and the seam allowance of the corner seams, and then turn your bag so that the outer fabric is facing out.  Using your fingers crease the edges of your corners so that the base sits neatly in the bottom of the bag.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag |a little bird made me

 

  1. To make the straps fold each piece with the right sides together across it’s width so that you have two pieces that are 4cm x 50cm. Stitch along the long edge of each piece with a 0.5cm seam, then iron the seam allowance open.  Turn the straps inside out and press them so that the seam is along the middle of the strap.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me Top stitch along each side of the strap 0.5cm from the edge, and, if you are using a feature colour thread, add a second row of stitching to create a nice finish.
  1. At the top of the bag use pins to mark a spot 10cm from each edge of the bag so that you have two spots on each side of the bag. Take one strap and pin it to the top edge of one side of the bag so that the seam of the strap is facing out, and the end of the strap is extending slightly past the top of the bag.  The strap will appear to be upside down.  Ensuring that the strap is not twisted (which is where having the seam to follow is useful) pin the end of the strap to the second point on that side of the bag in the same way as the first.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me Repeat this on the other side of the bag, then stitch the straps in place just under 0.5cm from the top edge of the bag.
  1. In order to prepare the lining you need to first prepare your inner pockets.  Take the piece of denim that you have cut to be 20cm x 25cm and fold in half with right sides together, so that it measures 20cm x 12.5cm.  Sew around the three edges of the rectangle, leaving a gap of  about 10 cm to enable turning in the right way.  Clip the corners, turn it inside out,  and press the seams so that the opening seam is tucked inside the pocket.  Take one piece of the lining fabric, and pin the pocket to the lining so that the centre of the pocket aligns with the centre of the fabric, 8cm from the top of the lining piece.  Sew the three side of the pocket to the lining, adding some reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket on both side.  Sew a line from the bottom to the top of the pocket half way across the pocket, adding the reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket.Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me

 

  1. The second pocket is to assist with holding knitting needles. Take the piece of denim that you cut to be 10cm x 25cm, fold in half so that it measures 5 cm x 25cm and, using the same method as the first pocket, attach the pocket to the second piece of lining fabric.  I attached mine so that it was in the centre of the bag, 5cm from the top.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made me You may decide to have the pocket more to the side so that long needles don’t interfere with the straps.  In that case you could attach it 5cm from the top, and 7cm from the side.
  1. With the two right sides of the lining facing each other, sew down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Using the same technique as the outer bag create the corner of the bag to measure 8cm across.
  1. To assemble the bag place the outer bag inside the lining, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each, the tops of the two pieces are aligned, and the side seams of the outer and inner bags are aligned. Oma Tote and Yarn Bag |a little bird made meAfter pinning the two pieces together sew around the top edge of the bag 0.5cm from the edge, leaving a gap between the two straps on one side in order to be able to turn the bag inside out.  Sew an extra row or two of stitching over each strap to reinforce these points.  Turn the bag inside out, tuck the lining inside the bag, fold the edges of the opening inside the seam and press the seam.  Finish the bag by top stitching around the edge of the bag to close the gap and create a neat finish to the bag.  Oma Tote and Yarn Bag|a little bird made meCongratulations!!

I would love to see any bags that you make using this pattern – tagging me on Instgram is a great way to share your photos!  (@alittlebirdmademe).

Now I am off to sit in front of the fire and warm my toes for a while!

 

The first day of the rest of my life

Today marks a ginormous step in my life.  Three weeks short of 22 years as a public servant, from today I am, by choice, self-employed.  (Well I did hint at changes that were coming!)

The last couple of years have been particularly challenging at work and at home.  One challenge on its own would have been fine, but being challenged on both fronts left little room for respite – which is how I came to be in the state I was at the end of last year.  With amazing support from my employer I have been able to take leave for the first half of this year, to rest, recover, and think about how I want to live my life.  Having green fields in front of me has been an uplifting experience – I have sorted through so many different possibilities in my mind (sea-change, tree-change, runaway-from-it-all-change) and am very happy that I have settled on the right path for the chicks and I.  I am going to spend my time focussed on my family, on building my creative business, on supporting other creative people to reach their potential, and on living life in a meaningful way.

And that, my friends, is why I died my hair blue!  That outward expression of claiming my life as my own was a small step towards looking at how I want to live, who I want to be, and how I want to grow.  The sense of freedom is immense!  My biggest fear is I will get into a habit of slacking off and playing instead of working – but I suspect that my bank account will motivate me to get over any tendencies in that area!

The first step is getting past this weekend successfully.  It is the second Handmade Market for the year, and I am working very hard to prepare new stock so that I can have some wonderful selections on offer.  The new sewing machine has been in overdrive!  It arrived last week, and after a bit of learning, tinkering, adjusting, etc I am getting the hang of it!  I will write more next week to give you all the details and do it justice, but for now – some shots of the arrival and set up!

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Two very big and very heavy boxes!

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I did it! (All by myself!)

I have also been able to use my new teether bits as a result of the new machine.  I am very happy with the way they look, feel, and handle – so will be launching them at the markets this weekend!  I had a bit of a production line (manned by my staff of one – me) yesterday so have a good range of colours and patterns to showcase the new bits!

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It also sews leather and denim beautifully so I am working on executing some of the ideas that I have been carrying around for a very long time in my head!

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This bag is made from supersoft leather, with the fabric detailed flap. Sewing the leather was a dream with the new machine!

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Other exciting news in this very brief summary of an amazing week, is that the launch of the Human Brochure that I spoke about last week was extremely successful.  Since then we have attended a number of delightfully wonderful discovery events and started to get to know each other – and really I cannot imagine a nicer bunch of people to be hanging out with!  I will write more in the next week about the events so far as I want to do them justice.  At the moment I can happily report that I have a huge crush on a part of Canberra called New Acton, have had my eyes opened to so many, many, many wonderful things in my own town, and am learning on a daily basis!  If you are interested in seeing what we have been up to have a look at the Human Brochure website where you will see so many beautiful photos from my fellow humans you will want to visit here straight away!

Phew – this might be the shortest summary of the most exciting week I will ever write – but the sewing room is calling me, and the Market countdown is on….so stay tuned for more updates!  (and if you are on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, following @alittlebirdmademe is a great way to see quick snapshots of what is happening during this exciting time!!)

I hope that you have had a great week, and that you are also finding little bits in your life to give you joy and excitement.  Just remember – today is the first day of the rest of your life too.  Get out there and embrace it.

 

May the Fourth be with you

It feels like a long time between drinks posts.  I have written several in my head in the last week, so was quite surprised when I logged on to see how long it had been outside my head, in the real world, since I posted!  There you go – time flies when you are having fun!

I have been playing with all sort of things in the last couple of weeks.  New fabric.  New ideas.  Old ideas revamped.  Housekeeping.  Forgetting to clean the house.  The usual circus that happens here in the nest!  My May newsletter did get out on time (have you subscribed yet?  They are full of a wide variety of things, so sign up – its free!)

In celebration of Star Wars day I have made two new bags – which will be listed on Etsy in my shop later today when I have the ‘good’ photos finished.  I enjoyed making these – I learnt a bit from using my repurposed denim bag while I was away over Easter, so took a different approach to cutting and joining pieces, taking note of the stretch in different fabrics, and think that the product is much better as a result.

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The first bag is a tote so not too much to tinker with there – although I did take a different approach to the base with some extra stitching, while the satchel is where I had a bit more fun.  I used the small front pocket from the jeans I was attacking cutting up to complete a bag panel alongside a back pocket piece, so this bag now has a pen pocket and a full sized pocket under the flap, as well as the usual pocket on the back, and slip pockets inside.  I like the new ideas that come from fitting together pieces that have already been used in another form!

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I also made the eldest chick a pair of pj pants from left over flannel – she loves them and I have had to peel them off her to wash them as she changes into them when she gets home from school!  I bought some new flannel on sale last week, so will be making another pair for her, one for the boy, and one for myself.  (The middle chick has about 10 pairs of pjs so doesn’t need more!)

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I went on a re-stocking buying trip last week (where I scored the flannel) and stocked up on some printed duck-cloth, and other bits and pieces, and bought this gorgeous fabric at the same time.  A friend/customer has requested two bags for her to take as thank you gifts when she travels overseas later in the year. She wanted an Australian flavour.  These fabrics (although unfortunately printed off-shore) bear the designs of Indigenous artists from Maningrida, a remote community in the Northern Territory where I have previously spent a little time.  I love them!  My bag making got stalled when I succumbed to a bug from one of the children, but I intend to finish them in the next day or so, and show you the end results!

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I also got a bit adventurous and bought some leather pieces.  I have been looking for leather to repurpose for a while, but in the absence of any success there, some pieces from a wholesaler are a good place to start (especially as they were a very reasonable price.)  I haven’t cut into them yet but hope to start playing with some new ideas this week, so stand by for photos!

In thinking about my market display I put out a call on Freecycle to see if I could get some boxes to help with my display.  Look at the history in these!  A beautiful woman passed them on to me – some were ones that her grandfather had acquired through his work, one had been used as a nesting box for chickens – they are all boxes that have had a life, and a lot of history.  We shared a bit of our lives with each other which made the meeting even more special.  I am so lucky!  A bit of cleaning and repairing and I will take some proper photos to share.

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It really has been a busy couple of weeks – there is so much more I could share, but I need to leave you with some time for your own life so won’t go on with every detail!  One thing I will share though is that my boy had a bad start with the return to school and was struggling again, with acute anxiety episodes, and the behaviour that flows from those.  Until I took him to the chiropractor we see, who also offers Neuro Emotional Technique.  If you google this practise you get all sorts of criticism of the lack of scientific evidence, blah, blah, blah, but to be honest, after the last couple of years I tend to look at the results for my kids, rather than the reviews.  I talked to her about his anxiety and other issues and she offered to check his ‘reflexes’.  She did, and then adjusted his “fear paralysis reflex” (some mild clicks in a couple of spots).   Wow!  He was calmer straight away, went to sleep without needing me to lie down with him that night, (and the next!), and the next day had an amazing day of staying in class and coping with everything!  The rest of the week continued well too.  Now this is not a ‘cure’ but whatever hocus pocus it is, it has given my beautiful boy, and his very supportive teachers, a break, some respite, and a chance for him to succeed again.  Hopefully the effect will last a while.  If not, even these few days of calm for him have been a gift.

I am sure some of you are missing my weather updates (Uh-huh).  It is cold.  Really cold.  Snow on the surrounding mountains sort of cold.  And the kids started their winter sports season yesterday, in the cold, and the rain. (Luckily they are with their father this weekend so I was tucked up home in bed recovering from a virus while they were suffering.)  The middle-chick didn’t cope so well (her father diagnosed frost bite – massive eye roll from me) but the eldest chick, in her first season of hockey on a full pitch, scored a goal, and the boy, in his first season of being allowed to tackle in rugby (and for the Americans reading – this does not involve any padding like your grid iron players wear – they just do full body tackles) and enjoyed it and wasn’t injured.  Phew!

My plans this week include working on some business planning, SEWING, and finishing this zpagetti rug I started yesterday while lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself.  I hope that you have a great week!

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Friday finds – a tutorial for a repurposed denim pouch, and other ideas for DIY tween birthday gifts

Continuing my theme of preparing a post here in order to work out what I will make for my chicks, the flavour for today’s list of suggestions and links is the tween girl.  My eldest chick is turning 11 this week, and is right in that middle stage– not quite a teenager, but not a young child.  She still loves playing imaginary games, but also enjoys Dr Who.  She is happy playing with younger children, but is keen to wear makeup and listen to her own style of music.  She is finding her feet as a leader at school, in the last year of primary school, and starting to think about high school, boys, and relationships in a very different way.  This can make it hard to find gifts that aren’t too young for her, but that aren’t too old for her.  I don’t want to push her to grow up, but I want to give her the freedom to do it at her own pace.

With all of that in mind I am starting this list with a tutorial that is great for many ages, but particularly good for the ‘tween-agers in your life!  A list of other suggestions and links follows at the end.

 

 Repurposed Denim Zipped pouch – tutorial.

Zipped pouches can be used for so many things including for holding iPods, chargers and earphones, for pencil cases, for carrying the little toys that are still attractive to this age group (tiny cutesy miniature things that hurt parents a lot when they are stood on in the middle of the night), for feminine hygiene products (yes – they are starting to grow up), for makeup or for hair-ties, hairclips, etc.  You can make them using cotton, laminated cotton, or repurposed jeans (my newest addiction!).

This tutorial produces a zipped pouch that is 8” x 5” using repurposed denim.

Repurposed Denim Pouch

Materials

One pair of used denim jeans (well – actually one small part of a pair of denim jeans – the bottom of one leg, or the seat and a bit of the thigh is enough!)

Cotton for lining – a piece 17” x 5 ½” – cut into two pieces 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

Zipper that is longer than 8 ½”

Optional – small piece fusible fleece (for more body use Vilene H640, for less use Vilene H630).

 

Repurposing old denim jeans

To make this pouch you will need two squares of denim 8 ½” x 5 ½”.  There are several easy places to salvage this much denim from – it will depend on where your jeans are most worn.  The bottom of the legs, below the knee and above the hem tends to yield the best quality denim, but I am also partial to including a back pocket as a pocket on the outside of the pouch that can be used as a pocket on the pouch.  If the fabric around the pocket is a little worn, then some fusible interfacing can assist to provide some added stability to the fabric.

If you want to add some padding to the pouch, then follow the directions for the fusible fleece and adhere it to the wrong side of the denim before you start sewing..  I recommend cutting your piece ½” smaller than the denim (i.e.  8” x 5”) so that your seams aren’t too bulky.

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  1. To insert the zip it is useful, but not necessary, to use a zip foot.   Take your first square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip.  The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other.  Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side.  Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim.  This is often described as a zip sandwich.  Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge ¼” from the edge.

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2.  Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down.  Repeat the same step with the second piece of denim fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.  (NB – if you are using a pocket from the jeans, make sure that the top of the pocket is nearest to the zip seam!  It may also be a bit bulky so be prepared to ease the fabric under the foot.)

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3.  Denim is quite heavy, so you can either finger press, or use an iron to press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat along the zip.  The next step is optional but I recommend top stitching along the edges of the zip to stop the lining getting caught in the zip down the track.  To do this measure one inch from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop one inch from the other end.  (Starting and stopping before the edge of the fabric enables you to sew the pouch sides together with relative ease.)  Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.

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4.  Before you sew the sides of the pouch, open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip.  Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the denim together and match up their edges.    Pin the zip so that the teeth of the zip are facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.

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5.  You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about an inch below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining.  When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.

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Leaving a gap of about 3 inches will allow you to turn the pouch inside out.  Open up the seam on the side so that you are sewing the fabric without it being caught by the top stitching near the zip.

6.  Once you have sewn the edges of the pouch, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed.  Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.

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Clipping the seam where the zip ends helps reduce bulk.

7.  Turn your pouch inside out, so that the denim is facing out and the lining is tucked in the pouch.  Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly.   Then either handstitch the side seam in the pouch closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.

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8.  Sit back and admire your handiwork.  Take a photo and, if you post it to instagram, tag it #alittlebirdmademe so that I can admire it too!!

9.  Of course you could also appliqué the ‘plain side’, or use different fabric.  The options are endless!  (Wish I had thought of the appliqué before I finished.  Might have to make another one now!!)

Other suggestions for DIY  ‘tween gifts.

Bags of all shapes and sizes!

Personalised duffel bag

You might recall that last year I made the eldest chick a weekender bag from Dr Who fabric.  It continues to get much use and be a big hit.  This free tutorial from Jembellish for a personalised duffle bag is another alternative to this.

Cross body bag

This style of bag is just right for a tween – sophisticated and yet not overdone – perfect for taking when they are going to a friend’s house, to the shops, or out to a cafe!  And I just happen to have a tutorial to make one here on my site – Tutorial for cross body bag

Wallet

My eldest chick seems to be quite good at saving her money to use for special purchases, but is carrying around a very small coin purse that likes to pop open and empty it’s contents into whatever bag it is carried in.  Maybe I need to make one of the wallets designed by Color Me Domestic!

Dr Who pouch

The eldest chick is a big Dr Who fan.  If I was to present her with one of the pieced pouches generously shared by Flying Blind on a Rocket Cycle showing a Tardis, I could well be voted best mother of the year.  (I won’t have time to do it this year but will need to keep reminding myself about it for another big occasion!)

 Clothing

The tweens I know are starting to develop their own fashion style – recognising what they like to wear and what makes them feel good.  Making something to encourage or complement that style will always go down well.  The following tutorials provide a lot of inspiration!

Sewing Like Mad – How to draft and custom fit a skirt pattern

Polkadot Chair – Fat Quarter Skirt Tutorial

Mama says sew – The Capri top

Make it Love it – Knit Scarf

Ruffles and Stuff – Easy ruffled t-shirt scarf

Scrap hacker – DiY Sneakers  This has a list of ideas for decorating your own sneakers.  Another option is to give the tween a pair of blank sneakers and a packet of fabric markers (I like the retro bright set by Sharpie) and let them decorate their own!

Martha Stewart – Reversible Hat

I heart Naptime – Infinity scarf

Decor

Being able to move away from the decor of childhood to a more grown up decor is all part of being a tween.  Gifts that can assist with this include posters, new doona covers and curtains, and things that personalise their room.   This link has a tutorial for basic bunting – using fabric that is personal to the tween, or adding their name can make it personalised for them.

http://www.craftaholicsanonymous.net/how-to-make-a-fabric-banner-tutorial

I have already collected a fair assortment of free tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, and added two of my own.  Adding these to a tween’s room is another inexpensive and easy way to jazz up and personalise their decor!  Tutorials for cushions and pillowcases, Pillowcase from fat quarters with an iPod pocket and A PDF tutorial on making a buttoned-back envelope cushion cover are all here on the site ready to inspire you!

 

Jewellery

Tween chicks are starting to express their individuality through their choice of accessories too, so these links provide great inspiration of ways to make jewellery for them.

Coupons Are Great – Create Lego earrings tutorial

Scraphacker – Button Bling  This link has a great collected of linked tutorials on making jewellery from buttons.

Coconut Lemon Lime – How to with Deena has tutorials on making jewellery using shells.

Love this pic – DIY Cork Pendants This is an image that shows you how to make pendants by cutting up wine corks.  No tutorial but the picture is quite clear.

 

Spa wrap

That growing independence and budding sophistication means that  tweens are starting to be interested in beauty products and makeup.  A wrap for their hair is a great gift, and the next link takes you to a lovely collection of tutorials for making your own spa treats.

Eeny Meeny and Moe – Spa Hair Drying Wrap

Random Tuesdays – Handmade Bath and Spa Gifts

 

Other lists

A further list of ideas for tweens is found on the site The Childs Paper.  If you are interested in making gifts by recycling old sweaters the links on London Local Services  are wonderful!  Lots of ideas that could be adapted to tweens very easily.

I think I have narrowed down my options (particularly given my time frame of a week) for the eldest chick, so will show you the outcomes next week after she has received her gifts!