25 January 2016

Sew A Denim Basket ..... and recycle your jeans in the process

Hello my sewing friends,

Sorry! I must have ruined your weekend that was supposed to be a productive one but I hope you took on the other project and got yourself a new project bag  :)

The tutorial (that is about four days overdue and should have made it's way to your screens over the weekend) is now here and will turn your cut-off jean legs into little baskets for your crafty needs. While we are at it we will make them reversible.
Take a look at it:
I love these - and are quick enough towhip up in a couple of hours.

So let's start you off....

Cut-off leg of jeans (8-10” long, this will be a cylindrical piece as we just cut the leg off from the top and bottom leaving the sides intact)
Contrasting/matching cloth that is double in width to the jean leg plus 1 ½” . It will be as long as the height of the denim piece.
Matching thread,
A pair of scissors,
Seam ripper ..... I need it pretty often, but can be optional for you  :)

Get your old jeans ready, then go ahead and pick a contrasting or complementary fabric print. You can use plain too.
You could try combinations like these:
Combination options
I picked this pink/fuchsia print on white

The how-to:
To begin with, we have a cut-off piece of denim that’s about 8-10 inches long. For this project we don't need the thick seam that is the hem of the jeans.

(I have a suggestion here - cut a piece from about 6" away from the hem of the jeans so we don't waste that bit of cloth too - you can make a simple denim basket with that piece and the hem of the jeans will become a nice edge for the basket - I'll try and sew one up quickly and post a picture for you) 

Try and keep the piece we need for this project to about 6-8" in length. If it’s longer than that then the piece becomes flared as the leg of jean widens out. If you have only flared jeans you will have to sew a seam to straighten out the flared side so you get a parallel sides before you start sewing.

Take your contrast fabric and fold it over width wise to get a piece that’s about 3/4th inches bigger than the denim piece on the sides. The extra fabric is for sewing the seams – the denim is already a continuous piece so it doesn’t need seams on the sides.

Sew the fabric sides so that when turned inside out it is of the same shape and size of the denim piece.

Turn both the pieces inside out and sew long the base or third side to get two ‘bags’ that are seamed along three sides with the fourth, the top, left open. 
While sewing the contrast fabric remember to keep some 2 1/2” of the seams in any one of the three sides unstitched. i.e.  if your piece is about 6” wide sew the seam to almost 2” then leave a gap of about  2 /2” and the finish the seam to the end. Remember to backstitch at the ends to avoid the seam  opening up. This is the gap through which we will later turn the bag right side out. But more about turning that later.

The next stage gets a little tricky - we square the corners at the bottom to give it a nice base to sit on.

If you didn't do this step and followed the rest of the directions you would still get a ready project but it would be a flat bag/pouch thing and not a flat bottomed sit-up-on-it's-own basket thing. Pull the side seam and lay flat on the bottom seam. Pin in place. Do the same for the other side. Do the same for the contrast piece too.
See the picture below to get a better idea.

Another angle...

Marking the corners:
From one corner, mark a line that is perpendicular to the seam that is visible and is about 2” from the corner. 
This picture should help you understand it better ........
.....and this close-up.....
Repeat the same for the contrast fabric....
Making the corners:
Take the pieces to your machine and sew along the marked lines for both corners taking care to remove the pins as you go so as not to break the needle or the pins.
You can make the seams double here. Do this for both the pieces - the denim, as well as the contrast.
At this stage you can cut off the little triangle pieces in the corners but I just let them be and iron them towards the bottom  seam to give added support.

Putting the two bags together:
Now comes the interesting part – keep the denim bag inside out. Turn the fabric bag right side out. Now put the fabric bag inside the denim one such that both the right sides of the fabrics face each other and the side seams of both match each other. Do so for the other corner too.

Once you have them set and the two two top edges sit well together, pin them all around. Sew all around the top edge in a straight line. To keep this line straight what I often do is take a ruler and a pencil and mark a line all along then when I start to sew I just sew along this marked line.
Again, remember to remove the pins along the way.  

Sewing along the top can be a little fiddly since this is a small piece. My machine has an arm that can be removed for easy sewing - small pieces can fit around this, as you can see in the picture, and it becomes easy to sew. But if your machine doesn't have this don't worry, you can still do it. It'll just be a little slower and more fiddly.

Turning it inside-out:
We are almost done with the sewing bit and the fun bit of getting this into it's true form begins.
If you remember, we had kept a few inches of one of the seams open. Slip your fingers through this opening and grab hold of the denim side from the inside and start pulling the entire fabric thorough this. You are, basically, turning the whole bag inside out or right side out.
Blurred picture alert!

Once the entire piece is right side out this is what it will look like.

Once done, you need to sew the opening closed. Sew it on your machine or use a needle and thread to hand-sew (or whip stitch) it closed. 

Now push the contrast fabric inside the denim one to fit properly. 
Since it is a reversible basket you can have the denim side on the inside if you like. The choice is all yours.

Iron the top edge so the two fabrics sit well together. You can now top stitch a seam all around the edge if you like - just to make the fabric sit better - but I tend to get  this a little crooked so I avoid it. Once ironed it actually doesn't need that seam, I feel.

Iron it out a bit to make both bags sit well together. 
All done:
Fold the top over and put all your yarny bits and bobs in.
Congratulations - you are now technically done!!!

Let me know how it goes - I'll be there to answer all your queries as best as I can.


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