In which I attempt to sew a reusable bag

It’s time to apply for The Simple Year 6! Click HERE for details, or check out “The Handoff” link above.

I’ve been doing a little experiment this year with a homemade planner — well, kind of homemade, I got some of the printables online from Susannah Conway, who’s doing her own planner experiment and was kind enough to share the sheets she’d made (that’s where I got the idea in the first place. I only look like I’d be organized). I’ve got a few art supplies in the form of pens and pencils, inherited from the girls or purchased a couple of years ago when Abby and I were on an art journal kick, that I use to fill in the pages.

Art journals are super fun, by the way, even if you have zero artistic ability, like me. I can’t remember why I gave that up, although I’m sure I had a very good reason.

Moving RIGHT along. (The words are rebelling this morning, you guys — I’m having a hard time keeping them on track.) I have been storing my pens and pencils in a repurposed tin … but the lid keeps falling off, which makes it hard to bring them along with me on the road. I like having my planner with me at all times. There’s something about it that makes me feel more centered.

So I’ve been eying little pencil pouches. There are some super cute ones (I might be a minimalist, but I am very pro-cute) that I’ve seen around town (when I actually get to town, which isn’t often, because there are PEOPLE there), but I’ve never managed to actually get one to the cash register to make it mine.

Sometimes being a minimalist and a zero waster (minimal waster!) really works in your favor.

When was it that I inherited a stack of Eric’s old white t-shirts? I’ve made one into hankies and cut up another in that attempt to make a coffee filter. (Unbleached cotton! That’s what I need.) That still leaves me with, like, five full t-shirts.

So a couple Saturday’s ago, coming off a chaperone gig at Abby’s high school — all night lock in, whose bright idea is THAT? And also, whose bright idea was signing Eric and I up for the midnight to 3:30 shift? Oh, right, Abby’s — I was at my parents, picking up Johanna, and lo and behold, my mother had her sewing machine out, and I had just happened to bring a cut-up t-shirt and my art supplies, and … well, some sewing happened.

I had a rough idea of what I wanted to create: Something that was just big enough to hold my pens and pencils, with a drawstring because, quite frankly, I felt it was time to get over that particular sewing fear. I mean, I’ve given birth twice, I am a powerhouse of awesome, how hard could it be?

Turns out, not very hard, since that’s the part that actually went right.

Not having any particular pattern but hope in my heart, I grabbed my mom’s pinking shears and Eric’s t-shirt, and roughly measured the material I’d need based on the size of my supplies:

Hello, friends!

And then I cut with reckless abandon.

Oh yes, a drawstring was going to happen.

I guess I forgot to take a photo, but I folded the drawstring part — that’s technical speak right there, aren’t you impressed? — over the drawstring because I didn’t have a way to comfortably thread it through later, and I’ve got a life to lead. I did have the foresight to pin the drawstring so it wouldn’t slip around as I sewed. I know, sometimes I surprise even myself.

Sewing! Pins! General feelings of accomplishment!

And then it was just a matter of sewing up the rest of the pouch. When I was finished, I noticed I had made a slight error.

So much for wrong sides together … see that drawstring seam?

My mother, bless her, was all like, what a pretty ruffle!, and I was all, uh, yeah … yeah! Totally meant to do that!

Well, whatever. Look how happy my supplies are now!

I know, right? Adorably ugly.

Now, technically the bag, aside from being just generally ugly (that actually makes me laugh. Never underestimate entertainment value), is a wee bit big for my pencils and pens; I’d wanted something a little more fitted. But I didn’t care enough to rip the whole thing apart and try again.

Here’s the thing: I now know that I can actually make my own bags! The remainder of Eric’s t-shirts are going to be produce and bulk bags — the ones I purchased years ago from a vendor who made them out of recycled curtains are starting to rip. They will be fixed, but having some sturdy cotton bags is going to really up my produce game. Because, fact, even if a recycled curtain bag is huge, that does not mean you can put, say, four pounds of apples inside without some structural bag damage. They’re really made more for lettuce, if you get my drift.

I’ve been using my art supply bag now for a couple of weeks, and I’m really happy with it — much more compact than the tin I had been using, the drawstring keeps everything inside, and I didn’t have to buy anything new.

Um, yes, I do write things like “kick ass at work” and “fight Mother Nature in the parking lot” in my planner. I also use it for meal planning, keeping track of how much exercise I’m getting (not a fan) and thoughts / feelings / other goals.

The end, I guess.

Next up: Johanna and I hit a seed share / save event at a local grange hall on Saturday! Take that, The Man!

3 Responses to In which I attempt to sew a reusable bag

  1. I can’t believe your year is coming to an end. I have learned so much and more importantly, have enjoyed your writing! Thank you for all your research into an area where it is often challenging to find information about alternatives to waste/just throwing it in the trash. We are working on going vegetarian this year so I decided to institute one zero waste change a month so as to not overwhelm. In January I switched to bamboo toothbrushes (thank you!!), February to dryer balls (because dryer sheets are gross) and this month is cloth napkins (thank you again!!). Many thanks for a great year of blog posts!

    • Thank you, Jeanne! I appreciate that. I can’t believe it’s almost over either — it’s gone by really fast and has been such a great experience! Totally recommend it to anyone on the fence about applying for Year 6.

      I like your one change a month plan — that’s a fantastic idea! I think sometimes we try to do too much at once, get frustrated, and then just quit (oh wait, maybe that’s me); this seems more do-able. Thank you for sharing!

Tell me, tell me...