Making: reusing fabric

I don’t know if the moment has passed, but there seemed to be a stage at which you were besieged with eco bags at every turn.

Supermarkets sold them to you; conferences pressed them on you (to hold all the paper that you then didn’t need anyway. Hmm.)

I started into eco bags a while back. They were quite often souvenirs of trips to Germany. I still have a couple which I love (and which have the frayed handles to prove it).

One is for a children’s book publisher, and has a very nice illustration of a cheery frog on a motorbike. The other has the Ampelmaenner (traffic light men) of East Berlin – you’ll see the ‘Go’ version as the little icon at the top of this webpage.

Eco bags are a nice idea, but they don’t really hold a lot of shopping. They’re fine if you’re off to the paper shop to collect your weekend newspaper, they’ll do a few bits and pieces, but not a great deal.

Cue my next use of them: for putting dirty washing in when on trips away from home. And when you’re home and doing the washing, stick the bag in as well, and it’s ready for next time.

But still. There were bags I liked, and ones I really didn’t care for any more. So I decided it was time to get the material back, use the blank bits (maybe more quilt activity?), keep the bag designs I did like, and ditch the rest.

And then I was able to justify getting a new sewing toy. The terribly sharp, terribly exciting rotary cutter.

You can use strong scissors to cut fabric, of course. You can even have pinking shears to make sure the edges don’t fray. (Though the main use of pinking shears, as I recall, was to reuse old Christmas cards and turn them into tags for next year.)

Once I’d read the quilting book a bit more, as well as a bit of looking at sewing sites, I realised that a rotary cutter could help things along nicely.

It basically looks much like a pizza cutter – but deadlier. (A pizza cutter doesn’t have a guard for the blade. This does.)

Lest it seem too dangerous for words, I have been practising cutting, carefully, on little scraps of fabric, to get the feel for the thing. Turns out it’s very nice to use – very smooth.

You do need to have one of those cutting mats to use them on – I think they call them self-healing mats.

The kind you can use for cutting out card designs with a Stanley knife. (We did some Christmas cards a few years ago, with lots of cutting, so we have the mat already.)

So the stitch ripper and the rotary cutter have been working together on taking apart these bags. A few are even coloured, and may make it into a different pile for a larger-scale quilt idea (if the first one works out).

I don’t quite know what I’ll do with the picture bits I’m saving yet. I don’t think they are quilting squares; most of them have words on as well, and I don’t want a quilt that’s too busy to look at.

They might be interesting cut into quarters and moved around a piece of fabric, as it were, so the effect is less immediate on the eye.

I do now have a lot of nice strong handles from the bags, though, which brings me to another idea: a scooping things up blanket.

(A blanket with handles, basically. I’ve seen things like this for sale online. Play on it, then pick it up by the handles at the end, and scoop up whatever’s inside, to make tidy up easier and quicker.)

I think the blanket might work for all kinds of small playthings – but I’m principally thinking the Lego collection. More on those plans another time.

Updated: the bits of fabric with words on turn out to be just fine in a rag rug. And more on that on a separate occasion.

Am I using up almost all the fabric? You betcha.

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