Advice on types of fabric to use, patchwork, etc

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  • #11639
    Magic Flying Boots
    Magic Flying Boots
    Participant

    Hi! I’m thinking of putting a post on our work’s forum, asking for any unwanted fabric that I can MORSbagify, but I wanted to give some guidance on what fabrics. I’ve got as far as:

    Curtains
    Tablecloths
    Duvet covers
    Cotton fabric from shirts, skirts, etc
    Nothing stretchy

    What other fabrics do people look out for? Are bed sheets strong enough? I was worried that an old bedsheet might be too thin.

    Also, I’ve seen some gorgeous patchwork MORSbags, but how do you hide the stitching? Do you line them? Or just leave the stitching visible inside?

    Thanks

    Jen

    #11648
    beattie
    beattie
    Keymaster

    Hi Jen! Great idea! 🙂

    Your list looks good to me. Usually bed sheets start out the same weight / thickness as duvet covers. You’re right, they can be too worn out to make good bags, but there’s usually some fabric round the edges that will make good handles if that’s what you need. I’d suggest you don’t waste time on the bits of sheets or pillowcases that have gone all bobbly.

    Sometimes people want to give you really THICK fabric, thinking that you’ll be able to make really strong bags. Instead you have a bit of a problem. You can get away with somewhat thicker than ideal (thick denim for instance) if you make the bag with thinner fabric handles – sheeting such as duvet covers or pillow case remnants are perfect. In some places, when you are sewing across the handles to bring them up into position you are sewing through 11 thicknesses of fabric, so it helps if some layers are thinner.

    Very faded curtains need close examination – watch out for fabric that’s gone brittle and tears very easily – it won’t stand the “bottles of wine” test. (Will the bag carry your shopping safely?)

    Shirts and other clothing can make interesting bags, but usually the pieces are quite small compared to the finished bag. With shirts you need to sew up the front opening securely first. Then you can get what we call a “two-piecer” out of it – with the front and back of the shirt making separate front and back of your bag (and the sleeves make the handles, usually). Ideally, we try to make a single piece bag, (for speed and ease of construction) with a fold at the bottom or side of the bag instead of a seam.

    Of course if you’re trying to use as much of your donated fabric as possible, you’re prepared to join pieces, which brings me to patchwork or pieced bags. Sometimes we are given part-finished patchwork projects and it can be interesting figuring out how to use them. A couple of years ago a pod from Leicester were given a lot of patchwork pieces and members made a great job of appliqueing them onto otherwise rather ordinary bags.

    My DH & I make some pieced-together bags where we usually leave the stitching visible. We normally use flat felled seams (as found on the side seams of jeans) which wrap the pieces of fabric round each other and sew them twice over. They obviously take longer to make, so there’s a trade-off between time taken and waste of fabric.

    If you love a particular fabric but it’s not very strong, or you worry about the strength of the seams it’s fine to line the bag, but I’ve only felt the need to do that once or twice in making thousands of morsbags. Each to their own, but there’s no need to feel ashamed of the stitching.

    I’d add sample books of curtain fabrics to your list if you like making smaller bags, or piecing / applique designs. The big sample books are often big enough to make the whole side of a bag from each sample, or two pairs of handles.

    #11650
    beattie
    beattie
    Keymaster

    Confession time – I think I wouldn’t put clothing on your “wish list” – as the pieces are usually small and awkward shapes. But fabric left-over from curtain- and clothes-making are much easier to use.

    #11653
    Magic Flying Boots
    Magic Flying Boots
    Participant

    Hi Beattie

    That’s brilliant, thank you so much for all your advice 🙂

    Jen

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