Green Bag
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Upcycle Tutorial – Environmental Bags

Say No to plastic! That is our new mantra, right?

When we think Green bags, what comes to mind? Those ugly, bland ones in garish colours, with some corporate log stamped all over it, offering fresh promotions to someone other than you. They might be practical, but more often, ugly. Or they get dirty and you can’t erase the marks, no matter what detergent you use.

Furthermore, I am inclined to prefer to drink my own ‘home-grown’, filtered water, rather than tap water, at my workplace, and thus, carry several drinking flasks to work, which becomes unwieldy in a regular handbag. My local, liquor store carry-bags have several interior compartments that are just perfect for holding bottles of wine, or, in my case, stainless steel drink flasks. Normally I carry 2-3 of these water flasks, which clank around noisily as I walk, and get dented or scratched in a normal tote bag.

However, carrying Liquor store carry bags into work each day, gives out the wrong message to my colleagues. “Look at her: she just can’t keep out of the Liquor store!!” I could almost hear it whispered about in the corridors of my workplace, each day. There had to be a better approach, I thought.

I have already shown you how to create a new shopping bag out of old clothes and fabric scraps here in this tutorial, but another solution to going plastic free and reducing plastic waste is to “Upcycle” the ‘green’ bags, by adding a pretty fabric cover which is machine washable. This gives me the chance to use some pretty fabric from my stash and get a stylish tote bag in the process. Here is how I did it:

Step 1

Grab some iron-on batting or interfacing, and a piece of pretty fabric (slightly larger than the bag’s measurements) or two, that is if you want to add a pocket on the outside to hold keys, phone etc etc.

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Step 2

Try out a few combinations until you are happy with the contrast of fabrics and colour schemes. Keep in mind they should complement the colour of the green bag itself.

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Step 3

Cut a piece of interfacing the dimensions of the bag. Now cut the fabric to fit the bag not forgetting to add a 1/4 inch hem allowance on all sides. I find it works better if I iron the hem allowance under, before I sew it. Tacking also helps keep the fabric in place. It will be impossible to sew the complete four sides of the bag, with the machine, as the bag is already assembled. So some hand sewing will be required in those places that your sewing machine foot cannot reach.

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Step 4

If you are attaching a pocket, cut, trim and hem before you sew the fabric to the front and or back of the bag. Iron on the interfacing etc…. you already know how to do this….

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Sewing in progress.

Tip: Use a strong/thick needle for sewing this bag. They make them tough and that will break a #80/90 gauge sewing needle.

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Step 5

Repeat on the back side of the bag. As I said, use a strong/thick needle for sewing this bag. They make them tough and it will break a #80/90 gauge sewing needle.

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Step 6 (optional)

The pocket looked  a bit plain, so I added a heart motif applique, for contrast.

That’s it…. all done, and I do like to take this everywhere now. Holding my lunch and water allowance for each and every work day. The bag fits in at the workplace in a way the Liquor shop carry- bag did not!!!

I hope this gives you some ideas to ponder about.

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Community

Plastic Free July

Following are some simply ideas on how I reduce my plastic use.

This re-blogged post gives some concerning and encouraging news on the serious and cataclysmic effects of continual plastic use on our environment.
Some Easy way to reduce plastic use:
* Take a re-fillable water bottle whenever you leave the house – your kidneys and the environment will thank you.
* Take a reuseable naturally sourced bag with you for consumables
* Leave some re-useable bags in your car for groceries
* If you can sew, make up some carry and tote bags ( there is a guide here) from fabric scraps or that fabric stash you have in your cupboard that is rarely used. Find a tutorial here: https://forestwoodfolkart.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/scrap-bags-a-girl-can-never-have-enough-bags/
* Refuse a bag for single purchases of bread, fruit, small items
* Boycott products such as commercial biscuits that have double layers of plastic packaging
* Reuse any unavoidable plastics as rubbish bags and dispose of thoughtfully. They can be reused in a variety of ways. Plastic bread bags can even be knitted into coat-hanger covers and Christmas decorations!! Who would have thought?
* Take home your rubbish when out, if rubbish receptacles near beaches are full
* Use a re-usable coffee cup if you like takeaway coffee
* Use glass jars or tins to store flour, biscuits (cookies), or baking ingredients in your pantry or fridge
* Wrap vegetables like celery in damp cloth tea-towels in the fridge
* Display fresh fruit in a bowl rather than in a thin, soft plastic bag in the fridge
* Grate and cut your own vegetables – who needs to buy grated carrot and cheese for goodness sake? It takes but five seconds to grate, literally!
* Buy whole fruit and cut at home, rather than purchase cut rock melon, pumpkin or pineapple, or carrots in polystyrene trays covered with glad wrap
* Write or tell your local supermarket and ask them to stop packaging items like carrots and apples in plastic bags or glad wrap
* Shop for vegetables at a local green grocer for fresh individual fruit and vege
* Save plastic use for toxic items that can’t be disposed of any other way
* Place recyclable plastic in correct Council bins for re-purposing
*Use rubber gloves instead of single use disposable plastic gloves where you can

Make these practices become a habit.

Green Life Blue Water

Okay, so I know the month is halfway over, but even a plastic free day is a plus, eh?  Have a look at this guest post by my sister, environmentalist, educator extraordinaire, yoga instructor, dog rescuer, and now, advocate for a plastic-free world.  Read on and remember, taking even one less plastic bag is a start!

Plastic Free July!

As the forefathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence, the unalienable rights endowed to men (and women) of this country are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Fast forward 242 years and we are seriously messing with those rights as we clamor for a faster, more convenient lifestyle, adding up to a seemingly disposable endgame for all. From our food system to our thirst to develop everything (land and products) deemed profitable, we are creating a world where the pursuit of happiness will be so much harder to attain because…

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Scrap bags – You can never have enough Bags.

I have an urge to do more recycling. I have a fabric wasteland. Read: my fabric stash, and I do not even claim to be a sewer (as in sew-er person, not the drain!), of any repute, yet I seem to have amassed a lot of fabric. So time to put it to functional use. Shopping and tote bags… here they come:-

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This is the first truly recycled bag that I made. The front and back and handle are from Recycled girls pyjamas, the border around the top is from a child’s dress, the applique is from an old teatowel, and the lining, well from my pile of unwanted stash fabrics, so the lining was really the only new-ish part. I kind of like the way this turned out. Even reused some lining that was in my cupboard.

These two bags are from scraps of curtain fabric, (obtained from Ikea) Pattern: courtesy of tinyhappy bags.


I incorporated a loop for attaching keys and the like and somewhere to stash your mobile phone or other important things.

Then the piece d’ resistance, is the large tote bag and the handy bag. This is designed on a plastic shopping bag: yes they have to be good for something!

Then it folds up into a tidy little pouch that sits in the bottom of one’s larger handbag and weighs next to nothing.
Then it open up like this:


Then there was the T- shirt bags… my daughter liked this one as it was all kind of stretchy, and you could stuff a big jumper into it, or just a few odd shaped things.

The Christmas version

Finally, you can decorate one of the indestructible synthetic bags with some art, draw or paint on a design of your choice.

Now that will give you something to ponder about…..