. . . transform a vintage food sack into a unique tote bag – perfect for market shopping or a visit to the beach . . .
You will need:
Vintage food sack
7cm x 84cm medium weight heavy cotton or linen fabric for the bag outer (this includes 16cm which folds in at the top of the bag to meet the lining)
Contrasting hand dye
37cm x 84cm linen or cotton for lining
44cm x 84cm firm fabric stiffener
Thread to match your outer fabric colour
Key ring 35mm diameter 71cm brown leather handles Linen sewing thread
Large sewing needle
Make a basic ‘sack’ with your cotton outer fabric. Fold your material in half along its longest length. Sew a 1cm hem by machine along one long edge and one shorter edge. There is no need to finish off the raw edges in any way as the bag is lined. Wash your basic sack without using fabric softener.
Attach the top edge of your sack to the central section of a broom handle or wooden pole with masking tape or thumb tacks. Roll it up around the pole smoothly so that if you balance the pole across a plastic or metal bucket (I used my kitchen sink) the sack hangs down, it’s just above the bottom of the bucket or sink. Prepare your dye following the manufacturer’s instructions.Lower the sack into the dye and gently stir it, avoiding splashes onto the main body of the fabric. Then leave for an hour and finish following the instructions on the packet. You can raise or lower your fabric by turning the pole, thus affecting the depth of your dyed section (Teo bags shown in photograph).
Using an iron, flatten the base of your sack and stitch across the two bottom corners at right angles to the body and 7cm measuring along the bottom seam from the point, creating a flat base and box corners for your bag.
Prepare the lining by folding the lining fabric in half and stitching a 1cm hem along two long edges and one short edge. Repeat step 2 to replicate the box corners of the outer sack. Make a key ring tab with a scrap of the lining fabric, 8cm x 11cm. Fold it in half along its length and press with an iron. Open up the fold and fold the two long edges in to meet the centre crease, then fold in half again to encase the raw edges. Tack and machine a few millimetres from the edges along all sides.
Slot the lining (right side out) into the sack (wrong side out) aligning the top edges (the lining is shorter than the sack because the top fold will be along the edge of the stiffener, the outer fabric lining the top 15cm of the bag). Tack 1cm from the top edge. At the same time, take the key ring tab, fold it in half, and position it at the mid-point along one side between the outer and the lining
Machine along the tack line. Leave a 12cm gap on the top edge opposite the key ring tab for turning out.
Turn the bag out and close the gap using slip stitch. Fold the lining and 15cm of the outer to the inside of the bag: this should be along the top edge of the stiffener. Tack along this fold over stitch through all layers 1cm from the top edge. Put the key ring onto its tab.
I used vintage French pasta sacks found in a car boot sale. If you are fortunate enough to find something similar, adjust your stiffener and lining material quantities to the same dimensions, remembering to allow for 1cm seams and calculate the fold in at the top where the outer meets the lining.
Some fabrics take dye better wet, some dry – try out two small scraps of your fabric first (one wet and one dry) – if the wet fabric ‘draws’ the dye better, quickly soak your fabric and wring out to dye it whilst your dye is still warm.
Dye: www.dylon.co.uk Leather handles: www.bags-clasps.co.uk Linen sewing thread: www.coatscrafts.co.uk