Taking thrift store clothes and garage sale jewelry, I re-create them into unique, one-of-a-kind pieces. Saving resources can look very good indeed!
11 February 2007
Look What I Made!!
First - I did NOT knit this. My knitting skills are very basic (knit, purl) and there is no way I'm ready to attempt an Aran style pattern. No, this purse was remade from a sweater I had. The inspiration came from a bag I saw at work. I have a part-time retail job at Talbots, and last fall they had a purse that looked to be knitted. It was a bobble pattern, and my first thought was "I'll make one!" since I can't afford to buy one (even with a generous employee discount) and I prefer to make my own things. However, I quickly realized that 1) I hadn't learned the stitch yet and 2) I knit WAY too slow!! I've crocheted for a long time, so I am much quicker, but I liked the knitted look. So, I had to think of another option.
Then I remembered the Aran style sweater I bought in England. Made from 100% wool, it was too hot for most winter days in Memphis, and I always felt fat and bulky wearing it. I had sat in my dresser drawer for years, and the moths had found a couple of places. I decided turning it into a purse I would actually use would be a much better use of the materials.
Step one - I cut the sweater below the sleeves, leaving me with the piece at left. The side seams were untouched, so I didn't have to worry about them. Because of the raw edge, and since it was machine knit (i.e. it was knit with a lot of pieces of yarn, not one continuous piece), I stitched a large, tight zig-zag seam around the raw edge. Then, I sewed the that opening shut. I now have my bag!
I don't have a serger, so I had to use the zig-zag stitch rather than serging the edge closed. Oh well----so far it seems to be holding.
Next step is to make the lining. Because the bag is made from knitted material, it will S-T-E-T-C-H!! I took some fabric I had, cut a piece to put inside the bag, and stitched up the sides and bottom.
Next was time to make the pockets for the lining, because I need all the help I can get organizing my stuff! I measured about what I though would be a large enough piece of fabric, and added a bit for overlapping the interfacing. I decided the pockets should be interfaced for added support, since that was where my electronic stuff was going. I cut a piece of interfacing, placed it on the wrong side of the pocket fabric, overlapped the fabric edge and stitched around all, mitering the corners.
Now it was time to sew the pocket onto the lining. Placing the wrong side of the pocket against the right side of the lining, I sewed around both sides and the bottom. Next, I measured how much room I needed for my various electronic pieces, and sewed a dividing line down to make two pockets. At left is how my phone and PDA fit into the pockets (although the pockets are deeper and the items aren't hanging out the top.
Next step is to sew the lining to the purse. Putting wrong sides together, I carefully pinned it so the top of the lining was at the bottom of the band (which was going to be the casing for my handle). I then sewed around the entire purse to attach the lining.
On to the handles. My original intent was to purchase round, wooden handles, but when I was ready for the handles, there wasn't extra money in the budget. I wasn't sure whether to wait until I could buy some (by which time it might be too warm in Memphis to carry a wool bag!), or try to sort something else out. While looking through a needlework book, I found a crochet pattern for making a round cord. After trying various size hooks to get the size and look I wanted, I crocheted the handles out of black (to hide the dirt!) yarn.
Now, I made a bit of a goof. Since I guess my mind was thinking about the round handles I had intended to use, I sewed the cord together BEFORE making the casing out of the bottom band of the sweater. Which meant, I had to wrap the casing around the handle, then hand stitch it closed. Of course, if I had used wooden handles, I would have had to do it this way, but with the crochet cord, I could have sewn the casing, then threaded the cord through, then sewn the cord together. Oh well, it all worked out.
Here's another view of the finished product as worn by me! I have used it off and on since I finished it and the only thing I want to add is a velcro closure at the top to help hold it together. Otherwise, it has been a very practical purse!
Next time I go thrifting, I'm on the lookout for other pullover sweaters I can cut apart and make into purses to sell. Stayed tuned to see what I can come up with.
Oh, and in my next blog post, I'll tell you about the biggest goof I made in the entire project!!