Friday, September 12, 2008

THE Tutorial that I promised. WARNING: Heavy photos!

I wanted to say a special hello to everyone in Turkey. I have had a lot of you come look at this site. If you know of a good Turkish translator, I would love to know what you all think about this tutuorial. Welcome and thanks so much for coming to my blog. And a special thanks to 10Marifet and Kujular for promoting me on their blogs.

Here it is at last, the sweater bag tutorial that I promised. This is image heavy for the tutorial impaired, like me. I need lots of photos. I just tried to post this and I thought I lost everything. It took me an hour just to upload the photos, imagine my devistation. Then I saw it in my drafts. Thank goodness for drafts file. Or I would have needed something on draft.
Start with a clean surface if possible (especially when inviting thousands of people to view your!). This always makes everything better.
Take your beautifully washed and felted sweater and lay it out.
Cut the arms off.

Turn sweater inside out and cut along the seam. This sweater did not have one so I had to lay it as flat as I could and cut up the side. Then cut at the shoulder so you have two pieces.

Iron, iron, iron with steam. Think McSteamy!!! Since making this tutorial, I have found that if you put the sweater in the dryer for 30 minutes when it is wet this takes out most of the wrinkles.
Put the ribbed edge on you cutting mat (if you do not have one of these and a rotary definately need to get one!!!) as straight as you can. After steaming is becomes pliable or moldable. The mat and rotary cutter has changed my life as a bag maker.
Measure out how deep you want the bag to be. Mine is 12 inches
Cut it. You will need the left over shoulder piece for strips for the inside of your bag. So make sure on your sweater when you decide how deep you want it to ne, you have enough left over for these two strips.......very important!!!
Cut the first side of your bag to be a straight line. Then measure how wide you want front panel and the back panel of the bag, mine is 15 inches. Most of the time your sweater will dictate this to you very clearly. To quote the Rolling Stones, "You cant always get what you want!", Or Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "If you cant be with the one you love, love the one your with".

Make 2 of these squares ( trapezoids).
Find scraps from previous sweater endeavors, and make your embellishment. Mine here happens to be flowers. But I know someone who LOVES owls.....uh!!!

Make sure it looks right.
Go back and get your shoulder pieces that are left over and cut 2, 2 inch strips by whatever your width it is 15.
Go to your leather garden and harvest some leather for the bottom of your bag.
Isnt this a beautiful piece of leather? Yummy!!
Cut your leather, and a piece of Pellon 72 to be however big you want the bottom. But you will need to use your math skills. If you want, it can be 3x12, 4x11, 5x10. Notice a pattern here (my son is in the second grade...he loves patterns) Each of these two numbers added together equals 15, the width of the front and back panels. Mine is 4x11.
I know the Pellon 72 is fusible on both sides but, sew it onto your leather to hold it into place. I have burnt many a beautiful leather specimin in this process. (Not pretty on many levels......PU!)
Use your basting stitch and make sure your bobbin thread matches the leather.

Peel off the shiny stuff or your bag will sound like krinkled new papers.
For some reason I do not have any photos me cutting the inside fabric. You need to cut two rectangles the same size as your front and back panels minus 2 inches mine is 10x15. And another rectange 4x11 (or whatever you chose for the bottom of your bag). And another two squares for a pocket....whatever size you want.

Now you are ready to sew on the flowers. I usually pinch the front panel in half to find the middle and put the first stem there. You could measure...theres a thought (this might change my life as a bag maker as well). I just sew it up the middle, not all the way around it. I think this gives it more character. Put the flower on top of the stem and sew it on. Then add your button. You can hand sew these on but after I figured out how to machine sew them on I will never go back.

Add the 2 inch strips to the interior fabric.
Then on the right side of the fabric I sew it down, it just gives it a more polished look and you wont have such a noticeable bump.

Add your pocket. If you need to know how to make a pocket, post a comment, please. Or you can send me a private note, I would be glad to help.
I always sew around it twice for two reasons, one it is sturdier and two it looks better.
Now you will sew the interior panels together. This is kind of tricky because you really want your seams to match.

As shown here...about the seams.
To add the bottom to the inside of the bag, I pinch the rectangle in half (short side) and put the crease on the crease on the side of the bag to match then pin. (are you hearing wah wah wah wah wah (this is the Charlie Brown phone voice (not crying)......if so let me know!!)

Sew that up.
Then I do the same thing on the other side. So, I sew the two short sides first, then I sew the long sides. I hope this makes sense.........this is why I do pictures.
This is the long side.
Here is what it should look like when the bottom is all sewn together.

Add your magnetic closure. (This requires a whole different tutorial, here you go. Thanks Tall Poppy Crafts!!) After this is done, you finished with the inside of the bag. Give yourself a big pat on the back, you are almost done.
Here is my secret weapon. The compound walking foot sewing machine. This is the business I will tell you straight up!!! I just got this in December and I have been making bags for 4 years, so take care, this CAN be done on a regular sewing machine (at your own risk!!! I assume no fault if your machine breaks, like mine did........ after I sewed 150 bags). Please do not use your Designer One or some really expensive machine. Get yourself a 1970's model with a high lift, that will work well. This is when "doo doo" hits the fan...really. There will be fuzzies everywhere in your machine. Make sure if you do a lot of these that you have that air in a can and oil. To make a long story short, sew up your sides of the 12x15 front and back. That would be the two 15 inches sides together.
Then sew the leather onto the bottom. The same way I told you for the inside of the bag only dont pin it. If you stick leather with a pin, the whole is permanent.
Hold tight.

This is what it should look like. Notice the concave action going on?

Pinch the sides together to crease it really good.
Vo wala!!! No more concave.
Now the outside of your bag is finished. Give yourself another pat on the back. I know you deserve it!!! Now take your inside bag that you have already finished and put it inside of the bag.
Sorry this is blurry but that is the inside of the bag as it should be put in the shell.
Take the two sides and make sure that these two match up. This is the two seams touching each other.
Should be like so.
Then pin it off to the side. Your belt will be going where the seams are. (Now for my big pictures.......this was done before I realized that medium would work) When working on blogger doing a tutorial, you have to do it in reverse order or you are constantly shifting pictures.

Take your belt and cut it in two. However you want it to look. I like the buckle piece to be about 6-8 inches long or longer and the other piece is what is left over.

Tip: Get the Payless shiner sponge to to clean your belt. Amazing!!!

Now you have to decide which side you want the buckle on. If you are right handed, I would tell you to place it to the right of your embellishment. So if you are looking at the finished outer shell of your bag with the embellishment on the front it should be to the right. And if you are left handed I would say to the left, to the left (can you hear Beyonce singing?)
Make sure that your seams are together. If they are not it will look sloppy.

Notice here on this picture the seams are not perfect. I hate that. Most people dont care though, thank goodness. Because, it is hard to do.

Now brace yourself. You are going to sew over all that thickness. Can I just tell you how much I love my machine right now?? It goes through this like butter. I am glad that my other machine broke because I was too scared to use this one.....its so fast!!! I should do a little movie here.

Sew all the way around the top of the bag.
The beautiful thing about these bags is there is no flipping it right side out and then sewing around the top. The sweaters, once they are felted, will not unravel. You are all but finished. Well you might need to clip some of the stray threads.

BAM!!! Your done. Now if you make one, which I hope you do, please do not cuss me out when you break 16 needles. You will get the hang of it with practice. I want to see some bags posted here. Anyone know how to do those flicker things so I can post them on my blog?

I am posting this on Craftster too!! My favorite website! If you have been referred from Craftster, please post a comment back on that site or here. After I posted the tute no one is leaving any hoo.

If you have any questions.........and I fully expect them...this is my first tutorial, I will be glad to answer them. All I ask is that if you use this, please give me credit. Thanks.


. said...

Thank you very much for your tutorial!!!! I really need to get one of these sewing machines. Your bags are always fabulous!


Monika Kunicka said...

Your bag is beautiful ..all your bags are great!! and thank you so much for tutorial. simple expalnation + lot of pictures = great tutorial.:-)
I have a question about interfacing I also use pellon70 but sometines especially while making small bags like envelope clutch as soon as I turn the bag inside out the interfacing is of course wrinkle..Iron helpes here ...but it also looks like it is to big.even after ironing it becoms bumpy..and you can see tht if the outer fabric is medium weight.I don't know how to explain that english is not my first language! I hope you can understand me.. I don't know what I am doing wrong. It does not happen to me all the time..I have tried many different kinds of interfacing to find my favorite. so far I Like pellon 70 and the fusible fleece :-)

cindygert said...

Thanks Alicia for your comment. You definately need to get one of these sewing machines. They rock!!


Thanks for the compliments. I have had the same problem. Have you ever tried using deco bond? You could use a couple layers of that to make it stiffer. I have not tried this but I am going to next time. I have seen a lady at the Viking sewing center do this. Let me know if that helps. I actually have some new interfacing on its way to my house. If it is any good, I will scream it from the roof tops so everyone will know. I think finding interfacing is the hardest thing to do.

Good Luck!!

Gigi said...

Wow what a great bag. And a wonderful and clear tute. Don't know when I'll get a chance to do one of these; but I definitely have the sweaters and the leathers. I'm going to bookmark this and try in a couple months. Thanks for your patience and hard work.

cindygert said...


Thanks for the comment. I had a fun time doing the tute. I love the action shots (kind of make me laugh). I had no idea what went into a tutorial. I hope to do more in the future. Please if you make a bag from this, I would love to see the pictures.


cindygert said...

In reply to Monica's comment above, the interfacing that I recieved is junk. It is not even as stiff as Pellon 70. I am not sure what I will use it for, I am sure I will find something.


Kim said...

Wow. Great tutorial! You were very thorough, but I'd like to add one small tip -- when pressing the sweater flat at the beginning, be sure not to iron on your cutting mat or else it will warp (speaking from experience). said...

Your blog is SOOOO amazing! I'll be linking to this project.

cindygert said...

Thanks Kim for your comment. That is some great advice. If you will notice in the picture it is not on the cutting mat. Please do not iron on your cutting mat. After you are done ironing then put it on the cutting mat. You may even want to let the sweater cool first, as you will have some condensation on your mat. I dont know if that does anything or not to your mat.


cindygert said...


Thanks!! I look forward to it!!!

Ana *espaciocrochet said...

Hello! i´m from Spain and i discovered your blog thanks to CRAFT Magazine. i´m starting to sew and your tutorial is a good idea!! probably i will do it!

Katelynn said...

Holy cow, this is GREAT! I can't wait to turn two sweaters I DON'T love into a bag I *DO*!

cindygert said...

Thanks Katelyn,

I hope to see your new bags sometime!!!

Darcy said...

Hi Cindygert,
Love this post! The bag is so cute. I found you just in a google search because I have an old, felted sweater that I want to make into a bag. It is oatmeal so I was trying to think of a way to embellish it because it is pretty boring, I love your flower ideas (especially the buttons!)
I am not much of a sewer (is that even the right word?) but I think I can do some parts of this, it just might not be so fancy.
I'll send you pics if I can pull it off!

Stylinmommy said...

Thanks so much for posting this awesome tute! Your bags are gorgeous!!! Felted bags used to intimidate me, but with your clear and very descriptive tute I think I can do it. I have an old Kenmore which I think may be able to sew through the leather. I'm going to make one as soon as I find some felted sweaters and leather coats!

cindygert said...

Stylin Mommy,

If you make one please send me a picture of it. I would love to see it and post it on my blog. That goes for anyone out there making one of these bags. I want to see them!!!


Shelly said...

I found your tute on a google search. It's great and I can't wait to try it! I found it to be very informative with good detailed instructions. Thanks for taking the time to put it together and sharing with us. I will post a photo of a bag when I get one done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that was extremely valuable and interesting...I will be back again to read more on this topic.

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