I wanted a crisp and bright spring bag that could go right into summer and the beach. So, this is what I came up with.
Degree of difficulty: intermediate.
The top part of the bag:
First, grab a pair of white jeans and start cutting under the bottom of the zipper, just above the crotch seam in the front, around the sides, and under the patch pockets in the back. I pinned up the front pockets so they wouldn’t get in the way as I cut.
Then, cut out 16 squares of fabric—from the legs of that pair of jeans and from two different colors or prints of about the same fabric thickness—each measuring 4.5 x 4.5 inches, allowing for a 1/4-inch seam when sewn together. On the top side, they show 4×4, finished. I used fabric I had left over from two other pairs of pants.
Alternate colors to make a pattern.
When you sew one square to another, put the right sides together to sew your seam—also, make sure the grain of your material is going the same way. I did all mine with the dominant threads running vertically (advised).
Sewing the squares together:
Sew the squares together for one row (left); sew the squares together for the second row; then, sew the two rows together (right), lining up the squares evenly.
Attaching the checkerboard to the jeans top:
Line up your center square, front center as shown in the checkerboard pattern above, to go under the center of the jeans on the front (left) and the center of one of the squares should match the center on the back. In other words, it looks better not having a seam in the middle.
Pin it all around and sew your checkers to your jeans top.
After you have your checkerboard sewn to your jeans, keep it inside out and sew the side seams and bottom seam of the bag. Then, measure about 2.5 inches in from each corner and sew a diagonal line of stitches across each corner (right).
Next, is the lining:
I bought two brightly-colored cotton handkerchiefs ($1 each at Wal-Mart) with colors that matched the colors I chose for the outer bag.
If you’re using hankies with borders, measure the size out from the middle fold, so that the pattern will be the same on each side of middle, with the border only on the top.
Cut your handkerchiefs to the size of the bag, allowing 1/2 inch for seams all around. Put the right sides together and sew the sides and bottom. Remember: What will be seen is the inside of your liner bag. So, the seam will be on the outside. Of course, when you put it in your bag, the seams won’t show.
Put liner in the bag:
Then, stuff the liner bag into the denim bag so the top edge of the liner bag is at the bottom of the waistband inside, with the side seams matching the side seams of the jeans. Hand sew the top of the liner to the bottom of the inside waistband.
I made mine 56 inches long (28 inches, doubled). You’ll need two. Just take them from a pair of pants you used in the checkers. Sew shorter pieces together to get the length, if necessary. Ideally, the strips should be wide enough to turn over the edges and sew, then, fold in half, lengthwise, and sew—so the raw edges are inside.
You can use the waist band of the jeans as the casing. I cut slits at intervals in the waistband: two in front (one on each side of the button/ snap), back, each of the sides. I tried to pull the drawstring through the waistband with only two slits, but couldn’t do it; four places are good.
I used a knitting needle to guide the drawstring through the casing: Put a safety pin on the end of the drawstring, insert the knitting needle through the safety pin, put the knitting needle into a side slit in the waistband, making sure the pin is going in, too, and carefully pull it all through. Hopefully, your pin won’t break like mine did!! Aggravation!
Insert the second drawstring in the other side and pull it through, so you have two drawstrings going in opposite directions (above).
Lastly—for the finishing touch, paint a pattern on the white jeans that picks up one of your colors. I used craft paint. After the paint dries, heat set it—either by ironing, or throwing it into the drier.
My finished bag measures 14 inches high, 16 inches wide. 😀
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