I was looking for something appropriate to post on Earth Day, and then Jenelle over at TrashN2Tees told me about these little bags she makes out of upcycled t-shirt sleeves. I thought it was a fabulous idea, so I went into my stash of deconstructed t-shirts, pulled out a pretty sleeve, and went to work. From start to finish this took me 20 minutes, including taking pictures. But I always have my machines and cutting area set up, so that part didn’t take any time at all. Anyhow, however you look at it, these little bags take only a short time to make. Sew (or serge) two seams, poke two holes, thread the “string,” and you’re done! Mine is very plain – no embellishment at all! But they’re much more fun if you add some applique or other embellishment to the sleeve before you make the bag (while the sleeve is still flat).
Cut the sleeve from the shirt and cut away all the bulky seams. Do NOT cut off the hem! That’s going to be the casing for the drawstring. Fold in half, right sides together, and trim the raw edges to make a rectangle.
Serge (or stitch) the side and bottom edges. I used my serger, which trims and seams and overcasts all in one step (I love my serger!). I used a 4-thread overlock stitch, and boosted the differential feed up to 1.5 to keep the fabric from stretching as I stitched. You could also use a sewing machine: Use a small zigzag stitch (2 mm x 2mm) to sew the seams; the zigzag lets the seams stretch, so they won’t accidentally POP if the pouch is stuffed too full. It’s not necessary to trim and overcast the edges, but I think it looks nicer (I like insides to be as pretty as outsides).
For a nicely finished edge, I like to weave my thread tails back into the serged stitches. You could also use a bit of seam sealant, but it’s really simple to use a tapestry needle to pull those threads under, and you don’t have to wait for the seam sealant to dry. (Plus: I always know where my tapestry needles are, but I’m not always sure where I left my tube of seam sealant!)
Turn the pouch right side out and poke out the corners.
Using a seam ripper or small, pointy scissors, poke a hole through the outer layer of the t-shirt hem about 1/2″ from the seam. Repeat for the other side of the seam.
Cut a long 1″ strip of t-shirt, parallel to the hem. A little more or less is okay; don’t stress about it being exactly even. Grab the ends and PULL! Then pull some more! The knit strip will curl up and turn into a “string.” Cool, huh?
Use a large tapestry needle or a safety pin to thread the drawstring through the casing. (This is sort of like putting a curtain on a curtain rod.)
Tie the ends in a knot and cut off the excess “string.”
Fill with … just about anything little! I’m using this one to hold some supplies I’m giving to a friend who’s learning to tat.
I’m planning to make many more of these. Wouldn’t they make great gifts, filled with collections of small things like buttons or golf tees or dog treats? Especially with related embellishments on the outside, like appliqued thread spools or golf balls or puppy prints. Send photos of your pouches and I’ll add them to this post. I’d love to see what y’all do with this idea! Jo