Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Clothespin Bag: Tutorial

My grandmother passed away a few years ago. In the process of cleaning out her house, my mom has found some real treasures (handquilted quilts, great photographs, her old sewing machines), and some treasures only our family can appreciate (like the magnets from her fridge, and all of her sewing notions and buttons). One thing that my mom brought me was her old clothespin bag. It had seen better days when I received it, so it was no wonder that after a year and a half of daily use, it began to fall apart.

I have no idea what the original material was - it didn't feel heavy enough to be a home-dec weight fabric, and it felt synthetic. I had never seen a clothespin bag like this before, however, some searching finds that they are not that uncommon. I particularly like this style because it is so easy to get the pins in and out with the large opening.

I decided that it couldn't be that difficult to make a new bag for the frame, so I dug into my stash of home dec weight fabrics, and found this cute polka dot print (that I have made several tote bags out of as well). I measured the existing bag, and added a few inches to the bottom (I think I made it two inches longer). I also added an inch at the top to make it nice and wide for the opening of the metal circle. I measured the existing bag and added an inch for a seam allowance to the width of the bag. My bag measured 12" wide by

My bag frame is one circle, so I had to plan how to sew the bag onto the frame. First I sewed up the sides of the bag with right sides facing (I cut my bag in one large rectangle so I didn't have a bottom seam, but if you cut two pieces you will need to sew the bottom of the bag together in this step as well).

Then you'll fold down the top for the casing. I didn't worry about ironing or folding the edge under twice. It may fray a little, but this part of the bag is going to take much abuse. I folded my edge down one inch. I knew it would be tough to sew around that metal frame, so I wanted a wide hem.

I then placed the circle part of the frame inside the hem of the bag. I pinned down the hem, with the frame inside. Going very slowly, I stitched close to the bottom of the hem, being sure to keep the frame parts out of the way of the machine. You may want to use your zipper foot for this step, but I found that my hem was deep enough to keep the frame out of the way. I sewed each side separately, as the part of the frame that hangs on the line attaches to the circle part of the frame at each side. Clear as mud? :)

And voila! A new bag! I love my new bag - it is just a little bit bigger which is great for the number of pins I use when hanging little kids clothes (and the socks, oh the socks!). And an aside - I love hanging laundry on the line. I love the way it smells (like sunshine!), I love the few moments of silence I get when I go outside, and I love the feeling that I'm getting something for free by not using my dryer!
Go forth, and make clothespin bags!

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