De+Reconstructed Bag

I love my sisters!

(and Mum!)

Not only did I bring some good ‘uns to the table, but Colin also has his own wonderful sisters, who are now mine too! That makes 6 beautiful, creative, amazing sisters…in one thing at least I have surpassed Elizabeth Bennett!

My sister-in-law Anna is one crafty lady – I love the way she gives things a go…and pulls them off! I mean, look at this cake!

Over Christmas she pulled off a fab bag de+reconstruction. Here’s her great how-to on how to rework an old favourite instead of just buying a replacement:

I wanted to make a bag exactly the same as my existing (but worn out and frayed bag) so I started by deconstructing it using a stitch unpicker:

IMAG1252 (2)

I then used the pieces as a pattern to cut everything from two pretty fabrics that I’d bought.IMAG1257 (2)

Next I had to think carefully in what order to make the parts in order that it would work. This was the hardest part of the whole project!

I started with the lining (with an elastic acted iPhone pocket and an internal zip pocket). Next I sewed the lined zip pocket into the navy linen (outside fabric). Then I completely sewed up the lining to form the bag inside.

Next I sewed the fold over flap outside and inside lining together (complete with piping – not something I had done before, but I could reuse it from the original bag.

I included some special stiffener that needed sewing in (vilene – heaviest sort that needs sewing in, rather than the lighter weight iron on type). I also reused the original clasp (can’t remember what point I added this…but it was pretty early so as not to forget it!) and the strap metal pieces.

I made the strap and sewed together the remaining three sides of the navy linen bag pieces (also reinforced with vilene) before attaching the strap and then finally sewing up the linen bag and stitching the lining in place.

Pleasingly all this was accomplished on a 1937 hand operated singer sewing machine:


It doesn’t do anything clever, but the stitch quality is beautiful and the mechanism is so simple that it never breaks (in fact it’s so reliable that these machines are often most prized in Africa).

I’m feeling pretty chuffed as I’ve never attempted anything more complicated than curtains or a little fleece hoodie for my son, and it was doubly satisfying working out the order of operations for myself rather than following a pattern. Am now filled with growing confidence and have knocked up a few aprons and a pair of waterproof mittens (over gloves for protection for my toddler in the snow!!) in the subsequent 2 weeks!!

Lesson learnt: challenge yourself and have fun :-)

Cool, eh?!

Thanks Anna – love you!

Holly x


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