Sunday, July 08, 2012

Up-cycled Picnic Bags

I got embroiled in a project I've been wanting to turn attention to for well over a year.  It actually has nothing at all to do with food, but I feel like blogging it, so let's just call it a Picnic Bag Project and declare that food-related....

Last year, after a big event at the Ritz-Carlton, we had a 30-foot vinyl banner left over.  Now, there's no way we'll be able to reuse the thing, but I hate seeing stuff like that go to the landfill, so I offered to take it and turn it into bags.  It's only taken me a year to get around to it.

You can actually send your o ld vinyl banners to a service like Ecologic Designs and have them come back to you as messenger bags, clutches, lunch sacks, which is very cool, but I wanted to try making some myself. 

The general pattern I used is pretty easy.  For a shopping bag, I cut pieces about 22" x 36," for the smaller bags it was more like 16" x 24".  You then fold the piece in half and stitch up the sides.  Then, I square off the bottom using the same method you would to make box cushions.  Martha Stewart explains it here.

My trusty old Kenmore sewing machine has enough power to sew through the layers which are pretty thick, but I could've used a heavy gauge of needle.  I broke 4 of them in the process.

Still, after nine bags, I really can't complain about how well the machine performs.  My Dad got it for me for my 13th birthday and after countless dresses, pants, tutus, shirts, and, yes, bags, it's still going strong.

The really fun part of this whole exercise though, and why I wanted to try it myself, is that you get to play around with the patterns on the vinyl and cut it in any way you think might be interesting on the finished bag.

Do you want abstract bits of letters?  Swooshes? Whole words? Patterns? Should there be little pockets? Long straps? short handles? I think the part I enjoyed most was chopping the thing up. 

And since it's heavy duty weatherproof vinyl, the resulting bags will be durable, water resistant and easy to clean -- oops, did I drip some blood on it after stabbing my finger with a  pin?  No matter,  it just wipes off. 

In the end, six hours later, I had three large shopping bags, and six smaller totes which could conceivably hold a nice little picnic lunch, or anything else really. 

I also cut a roughly 3' x 5' chunk of the banner  to make a picnic table covering for when we encounter those dusty, dirty old picnic tables with lots of splinters...

Only a few little trims and scraps went into the garbage, so, upcycling mission completed. A satisfying way to busy myself on a Sunday.


New Mama on the Block said...

These are fabulous!

Mary Ellen Hunt said...

Thank you! I had a great time making them, although I think my sewing machine needs an overhaul now...LOL!