Sew What!


So, it’s no secret that I think people should know their way around sewing needles. Like really everyone should know. Even spiderman made his own costumes… and he did a lot of other stuff at the same time. Sewing is a great skill, and once you’ve got it you’ve got the ability to take care of business more. Like you could hem your pants or whatever. And, really, it’s like my feelings about drawing. All you need to do is practice a lot, and you’re going to be good at it eventually.

Yesterday evening my awesome program had our first sewing night! We got out some sewing machines out (a few of us have them, as they are very helpful in artmaking) and talked about the mechanics of those lovely things. And we talked about some easy projects that can help familiarize people with sewing machines – so they’re not so daunting, which means they’re used more and will get us what we want faster! Also, easy early projects are helpful in making confident and smart sewers!

So, I’m going to describe a really cheap and easy bag project I did last year, which is still helping me out. Weedcloth tote bag!!!

I bought a roll of heavy duty black spun polyester weed cloth on the internet (agricultural, for blocking light/making heat to make sure weeds don’t grown in parts of your garden you want to be weed free) – this stuff is cheap! And you get a lot of it! It’s black and looks like those cheap totebags from the grocery. Make sure you get the kind that’s a teeny bit thicker… it can be super thin too – which would not help you tote things in your bag. If you are not in nyc you will easily find this stuff at the hardware store or garden center.

Cut a rectangle that’s about a foot and a half by 3 feet. Hem the short sides, this doesn’t need to be fancy hemming, just fold that edge over maybe an inch and sew close to the edge. you will just need to fold it in half and sew up the two sides (well they’re 4 pieces until you sew them) that aren’t hemmed. Make sure to put your hemmed sides out when you’re sewing the bag up so they don’t show on the outside of the bag once you’re turned it rightside out to use it. Voila, a bag!

Make two straps with grosgrain ribbon or more of that fabric -(to do that cut a piece that’s 2 inches by 2 feet. Fold it in thirds, like a resume you’re mailing. And just zigzag stitch that puppy up the middle). Do it again and you’ve got 2 straps. sew them onto the bag about 6 inches apart, a few of inches in from each side. Sew those on well, on the inside lip of the bag, and it wouldn’t hurt to sew once around the whole hole to make sure all the seams are nice and attached. Especially if you are like me and plan on pushing the limits of what tote bags are normally asked to do.

That whole bag will cost way less than a dollar to make, and you can make a lot of them for people, or sell them, or make something else (I’ve heard that fabric is great for halloween costumes) out of the fabric. I’m including a photo of one of the sculptures I also made with the roll of fabric I got for $10. You can see the sculpture in stop-motion action in my video from last spring, on youtube. It’s called life never waits, if you don’t already know. Check it out!

I will photograph my bag, but you will be able to find better instructions for something like this on youtube. They have every kind of instructional video about making stuff on there. I love them!

Before sewing up my bags i screenprinted pigeons on the fabric, which was kind of weird looking since it’s got a recessed ‘dot’ pattern. But it worked. And I made like 50 of those suckers and gave them to my favorite people in the world. I made myself one, which is seriously misprinted, and I love it and still use it almost every day. You could use cute fabric if you’e less cheap than me, and you could also sew cute patches to it if you have them. One of the bags I made I used a big patch and sewed up the sides and bottom to make a pocket! That one I sent to my bff.

So, that’s an easy sewing project for you. If you want to practice and be productive at the same time. Another thing about beginning sewing though, don’t be attached to your first 5 projects. You might have to redo a couple, since you’re getting used to it. Like drawing.

Here are a couple of links to tutorials about tote bags on youtube! These are not like the one I described to you, exactly… have fun!!!


this thing is made out of that fabric. i don’t think this is the final version of the sculpture, but you get the idea.



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