Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sew a Recycled Denim Bottle Bag

 My son likes to say, "I grow a little bit each day."  Indeed.  So, this past month, rather than donate five pair of his now too-short jeans to charity (as I usually do), I decided to upcycle them into various projects.

The first project on my list:  Denim Bottle Bags.  These denim bags are easily found on Etsy and Pinterest - and I always admire them.  Because I've sewn bags before, I figured making some bottle bags could not be that difficult.  With the kids back in school, and a basket full of the too-short boys' jeans, I decided the time had come to attempt making some of my own denim bottle bags.

Prepping Material:
  • Denim:  After measuring a wine bottle, I learned that a finished bag should be about 13-inches long and about 7-inches wide.  To account for the seams, I needed to prepare a piece of denim approximately 14.5" x 15".  One jean leg per bag was perfect.   This is a recycle / upcycle project, so of course some jeans had holes in the knees, and others had stains that just refused to come out in the wash (love that Georgia clay!).  I went ahead and used the legs, imperfections and all.  Remember, any denim works - no matter where it comes from. 
  • Liner Fabric:  I wanted a bag with a fold over reveal.  So, the liner fabric needed to be a few inches longer than the outer fabric to account for the reveal.  I cut fabric pieces at about 2 inches longer (14.5" x 17") than the denim.  Most of the bag liners are remnants that I had in my fabric stash.  Fully embracing the recycle portion of the project, I even cut a liner from an old pair of too-short girl's pajama pants - the dachshund pattern was so cute.  
  • Handle Fabric:  Fabric for handles was a bit trickier.  I wanted the handles to match the liners.  Because I was using remnants, I had a bit of trouble getting enough fabric in the right dimensions.  I experimented with various lengths, and finally decided the best measurement was a strip of fabric about 3" x 18".   You can avoid the issues I had by using fresh fabric or using other materials all together, such as rope, twine, etc.        
One afternoon later, I have a nice collection of bottle bags suitable for various types and sizes of bottles and gifts.  Th are perfect for wine bottles, shorter bottles, coffee cups, water bottles.  And, of course, other non-bottle-type contents.
Various sizes suitable for various items.
 If I may say so, they turned out super cute.  Keep reading to see how I made them:

Denim Bottle Bags:
  • Old denim jeans
  • Fabric for the liner and strap.
  • Tape measure and quilting ruler, pencil or pen
  • Scissors and/or rotary cutter
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Sewing machine, thread, pins
General How-To:

Step 1:  Prep the Denim for outside of bag:
Cut  off the leg at desired length.
Turn leg inside out and compare the seams.
Remove the inside seam.
Remove bottom hem.
Note:  Jeans may vary in dimensions.  Trim the denim to your specific desired width.  Make sure the denim's outside hem is slightly off-centered - it is a great detail on the front of the finished bag.

Step 2:  Prep the liner fabric:
Remove the selvage and trim fabric to desired size.
Note:  Pay attention to the fabric's pattern orientation when you measure and cut.  The fabric I used in this example has a leaf pattern with a distinct top and bottom.  I cut the fabric so that, when the folded edge shows on the outside of the bag, the stems face up.
Iron out the wrinkles.
Fold top edge of fabric over 1/4" and iron.
Fold edge over again - 1 1/2" or so and iron.
Place denim on top of the liner fabric and line edge up with the bottom crease.
If needed, flip the whole thing over and trim ends so they line up.

Step 3:  Prep the Handle fabric:
Cut a piece of fabric approximately 3" x 18".
Fold one side over 1/4" and iron.
Fold other side over about 3/4" and iron.
Fold each end in about 1/4" and iron.
Fold the whole thing in half and iron down.
All prepped and ready to sew.
Step 4:  Sew it all together:
Sew the handle together.
Sew the liner to denim along the bottom of the reveal.
Fold the bag in half (wrong-side together) and sew a 3/8 " seam along the bottom and side.
Trim away excess fabric to remove bulk.
Turn the bag inside-out.
 Sew 1/4" seam along the bottom and side.
Note:  This seam will enclose the unfinished edge so that it is not visible inside the bag.

Sew the handle to the bag.
All done!
Fill with a bottle and gift-away!