Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Laundry Bag Do-over! A tutorial

When hubby and I first moved into this house, I went from having a large wonderful utility room to having a laundry closet. See that door?
Yeah, that's my laundry room and it's not much bigger than that door.
Pay no mind to the dirty laundry; that's not the point. My point is, where do you think I separate laundry? I didn't want one of those pieces that sits in the hallway because there was no room for that either. So I came up with an idea and hubby helped me implement it. If you look to the left behind the door you can sort of see it.

Hubby made me a wooden strip with dowels on it and I made large canvas bags for laundry. Why am I showing you this? No particular reason except that I never got to show it off before (it was made 11 years ago) and it's sort of a precursor to today's project because it shows I've made bags.
When I had my son (who is now 5 1/2), I got this little jewel as a gift.
Well, it has been the dirty clothes hamper for both of my kids for all these years. The frame is okay but the fabric and bag have seen better days. At first I was going to replace the fabric on the outside and the bag, but then I decided that was redundant. I figured I could just make the inner bag out of nicer fabric. So I took it all apart but immediately found a problem.

The way the blue fabric went on the frame, it actually Velcroed at the bottom and made it stand up. So I had to find a different way to make it stand up. I measured the bottom of the bag and included the two sides with the Velcro.

Then I took some twill type fabric that I had on hand and cut two strips 2.5 by 36 inches (the bottom of the blue bag was approximately 35" so I added an inch for seams).

I folded each end down about 1/4" and sewed it down.

Then I treated the strips like I was making binding. Fold in half lengthwise and iron. Open and fold each side inward toward the inner crease. Iron. Fold again at the crease. Sew. I'm not giving a lot of instruction on this part because most of you know how to do binding. If you don't, there are tons of tutorials out there in bloggy world.

Now I attach the Velcro. You will have a male and female piece of Velcro; one will go on one end of your strip on the top and the other will go on the other end on the bottom.

Once you've sewn on your Velcro, attach the strips to the bottom of your frame. It should stand by itself.

Now we need a laundry bag. Remember that Amy Butler decorator fabric my friend got me at the yard sale?
Yup, that's what I'm using! I took the mesh bag (seen in the corner of the above picture) that came with the laundry hamper and measured what I needed. This particular bag had two side pieces and one long gusset. So I cut out my fabric from the bolt.
Since I didn't really take pictures of this part, I took some of paper to give you a bit of an idea as to how it came together.
My original measurements for the bag were as follows: the side pieces were 16" x 19". The gusset needed to be at least 54" long by 15.5" wide. My fabric was 55" wide so I just left it. Basically I had one really long rectangle and two short ones.

It's kind of hard to get one picture that shows how it all fits together but ...

You are basically using the short pieces as a guide. You will end up sewing down one side, across the bottom, then up the other side. Repeat with the other piece. It will end up looking something like this.

But before you sew all those seams, read ahead. I decided to do french seams in this project because decorator fabric is kind of like canvas. It has the tendency to fray a bit and I didn't want the frayed bits in my laundry. If you are unfamiliar with french seams, they are not as difficult as they seem.
The first step is to line up the fabric wrong side to wrong side. I know that doesn't sound right but go with me. You will sew along the area that needs to be sewn with about a 1/4" seam.

When you complete sewing that line, turn your project inside out and place the fabric right side to right side. Now technically with french seams, you are supposed to press your seams open. You are welcome to do that because it does help you get a crisper fold when you fold the fabric right to right side. You want to fold it over at the sewn seam and iron it at the fold; get the . You are now going to sew a 1/2" seam from the edge of the first seam. Your edges are now enclosed. Sew Sweetness has a great little picture of how this works here.

When your entire bag is sewn, you will have raw edges around the top of the bag. At each corner you will need a loop to catch an edge of the frame. From my leftovers I cut four strips about 1.5" by 8 inches. You will treat these just like creating binding again. You will be ironing each in half lengthwise (I just finger pressed); then you will open it back out and fold each side in toward that middle crease. Iron. Sew. Do this with all four pieces. Set them to the side.

I kind of accidentally skipped a picture here but you can see it in the next picture. Take the bag and fold down the top edge about 1/4 inch all the way around and pin. Sew the edge down. You can either attach the loops at the same time you sew around the edge or you can do it after. I did it after (primarily because I didn't think about it!). Because I did french seams, the four corners were rather bulky. For this reason, I had to attach my loops right next to that bulk instead of right on the corner itself. I repeatedly sewed over the loop to ensure that it was anchored well. I also stacked the two sides of my loop. You might want to sew the two ends side by side instead to reduce the bulk for the next step.
After all four loops are attached, you are going to fold the edge down again all around the bag. When you get to the loops, they will now be facing downward. Flip them back up and pin securely.

This creates a lot of bulk where the loops are so you are going to need to be careful going over them with your sewing machine. If you sewed your loop ends side by side, it may not be as difficult to sew through.
When you have sewn all around the edge (repeatedly go over the loops to ensure they are anchored) you are done!

I love how it turned out. You don't notice the brace straps on the bottom at all so they can shift around or whatever. I'm also thrilled that I bought absolutely nothing to do this project! This was all supplies I had on hand. I think it's a great update and I like not having to buy something new.


Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Looks cute. Good job.

Linz said...

CUTE!!! Looks awesome! Thanks for the tute!

Mitzi said...

Good job girl! Perfect.