No such luck unless it was a video. Now what beginner with not a lot of machine sewing experience wants to try and watch a video, some of which assumed the viewer knew sewing terms and a lot of basic skills, and sew something they've never made before at the same time? Add to that I have satellite internet and know quite a few others who share this "affliction" so 10 minute plus videos that don't have all the steps clearly layed out are a waste of precious expensive download.
That left me with one course of action - make my own tutorial.
So here it is for those of you who aren't already members of the DTE forums.
A Simple Denim Jeans Tote Bag
An old pair of jeans – whatever size you want your bag
An old fabric belt
Quick unpick – also known as seam ripper....just in case!
Scissors or rotary cutter and cutting board
Pins and pin cushion
Ruler, tape measure or sewing/quilting rulers /squares
Pencil or marking chalk
Thread for machine.
Machine needles for denim size 90/14 or 100/16 depending how thick/heavy the denim is.
Iron – this can be made without the use of an iron but I find it easier to do so and a place to iron (ironing board, blanketed table etc)
Note: All side seams and hems are 1/2'” wide and I backstitch at beginning and end of each row of stitching to secure it.
Hoping you’ve already set up your machine to sew denim re stitch length etc .
First cut the jeans. You choose how big you want the bag to be but keep in mind that this will be a bag with boxed corners so allow extra for that. Mine are 18” square fabric pieces which will make a bag around 15”x 15” x 3” deep. I used size 16 (Australian measurement) ladies jeans . Cut one bottom section out of each jeans leg, leaving the inside leg seam intact. The thick outside seams are removed as they will be difficult to sew over. I unpicked the hand sewn leg hem as I needed that inch or so to do my new top seam.
Place the pieces right sides together and square them up, or you can make your own “ruler” from a big cereal box and use it.
Once they are squared clip a 1” long strip of fabric from the edge next to the existing seam. This will reduce fabric bulk when hemming.
Now place the outsides of your bag facing each other, pin them together, then sew. I like to sew each side from top to bottom first, then sew the bottom seam together. I find there’s less fabric movement that way than going down one side across the bottom and up the other side. As the denim tends to fray you may want to stabilise it by overlocking (serging), using zig-zag or edging stitch like I did, or clipping with pinking shears if you own a pair. I also clip the corners on a diagonal before the stabilising stitch to make the corners neater when they are turned right way out.
Ready to make a box bottom? Ok, your bag should still be inside out so align the bottom seam and the side seam and finger or iron press. There should be a point formed. Measure 3” up from this point where the stitches meet, and mark a line. Pin to secure then sew along the line. Do the same thing to the other corner. It’s optional whether you clip off these points about ½” from the seam or fold them to the inside as support and hold them in place with a few stitches like I do. This is where it’s handy to have a free arm on your machine.
To ensure your bottom thread doesn’t become tangled underneath turn the wheel on the side of your machine to take a stitch and when the needle returns pull the bobbin thread through the material to the top, just as you’d do if you’d just rethreaded the machine. This means both threads are now on top and you can hold them when you begin stitching.
Inside of box bottom
I purchased a belt for 20 cents at the op-shop to be my handles as I wanted short, strong, wide handles as this will be my bag for carrying cans, bags of sugar etc in when I shop. I removed the fastening and cut the end tab off then singed the partly acrylic raw edges so they won’t fray. No, I didn’t provide protection for the table but yes, I have done this before so I knew this one wouldn’t drip. I usually do it over the empty stainless steel kitchen sink for safety reasons.
When you have cut the handles to the size you require and sealed them, or secured the ends with stitching, measure 3” in from the side seams and make a mark. Pin the outside of your handle ends here and have 1” protruding past the bottom of the top hem as this is the area you will sew in to attach them.
Sew the handles on by stitching a square to secure them firmly. If you’re not familiar with this what you do is stitch almost to the edge of the handle, parallel to the hem, stop the machine with the needle still lowered in the fabric, raise the presser foot, turn the bag until it is in position to sew down the side of the handle, lower the presser foot and repeat.
Your finished bag should resemble this one.
Hope everyone has fun trying this!
Feel free to link or copy for your own use but don't claim it as your own because, after doing one myself, I now have great respect and admiration for those who offer written tutorials as stopping and starting to take photos, editing the photos by cropping/resizing and just writing the tute so it makes sense is quite a lot to do!!
I do think at least a mention of my blog, and possibly a link to the tute here if you feel so inclined, is not much to request :).
Footnote: If anything is unclear in the tutorial, please message me.