Reusable bags are all the rage now—and I hope this trend lasts.
Here's a little tutorial that will show you how to turn an iconic NYC T-shirt into a handy little reusuable shopping bag with a sophisticated textured touch. I love looking through this book and I always jump at the opportunity to try her techniques.
So here goes!
You will need:
• NYC T-shirt
• A scrap of red fabric (knit or woven) approximately 5"x9" (the bigger the fabric, the more texture you will get)
• A scrap of interfacing the size of the heart on the T-shirt.
• A needle & thread
• An Embroidery hoop
• Access to an iron and a sewing machine
Begin by laying your T-shirt out on your work surface. (And yes, I'm in New York, so the floor is frequently my work surface.) Cut off the sleeves (including the seams) of the T-shirt. Fold the shirt down the middle (lengthwise) and cut off the collar. This will leave you with a sleeveless V-neck T-shirt. Lay the shirt flat again and cut off the bottom 5". (These scraps make excellent dust rags!) Now on to the applique part.
Iron the interfacing over the heart on the wrong side of the T-shirt. Cut your red fabric into a very rough heart shape. It should be considerably larger than the heart on the shirt. Turn the edge of red fabric under approximately 1/4" (iron, if you wish), center it on the heart and pin it down in four places (top/bottom/sides). Center the heart in your embroidery hoop, thread your needle and get ready to sew. Applique the red fabric shape around the edge of the heart using a short running stitch. Because the red shape is bigger than the heart, you will have to gather it slightly as you go by taking bigger stitches through the red shape and shorter stitches along the edge of the heart. You will have a funny puffy shower cap/mushroom shape attached to your shirt when you are finished.
Now the furrowing begins! Start from the back and bring your needle up through the center of the heart and the center of the red shape. Pull the thread taut and then push your needle back down in almost exactly the same spot. You have now tacked down the center of the puffy cap. Move to another area approximately 1" away and repeat the process of sewing up through the shirt and the fabric shape and then down in the same space. Again, move to another area of the heart approximately 1" away and make another stitch. Keep in mind that you are trying to go up through two layers of fabric and then back down through two layers. You will continue to do this across the whole surface of the heart, creating little wrinkles and furrows as you go. I would recommend keeping your stitches far apart initially to help keep the big furrows relatively evenly spaced then work within these smaller sections. Continue to make stitches randomly around the heart until you are happy with the furrowed texture. The back of the heart will be a glorious mess of zig-zagging stitches.
There's no real right or wrong way to. The beauty is in the irregularity of the wrinkles.
Next, turn your shirt inside out and lay it flat again. Pin and sew the bottom edge together. Open the seam flat (and facing up). Measure 3" from each corner of the seam and mark a line that is perpendicular to that bottom seam. Pin and sew along these lines. Trim the seams and turn your new bag right side out.
If you want to make your bag even fancier, you can A) hem the handle edges (doable with a sewing machine & super-easy with a serger), B) applique another heart on the back to cover your stitches, C) cut a cardboard rectangle from an old box to create a flat bottom for your bag.
Now I'm off to the farmer's market to pick up my last minute Thanksgiving supplies!