Upcycle Feed Sacks!

Upcycle Your Animal Feed Sacks

Do you like animals? Do like to sew? Even if you don’t have a hobby farm you still might have some animal feed bags laying around you could “upcycle” into re-usable shopping bags, beach bags, or a hip bag to take to your local farmer’s market.

In addition to poultry and dog feed I buy a lot of bird seed, both mixed seed and black oil sunflower. Oftentimes the bags have very pretty designs, like this one: 

The best bags are the ones that have a weave as you can use a sewing machine to put them together.

You can use other types of bags, like dog or cat food bags, but those cannot be punctured with a needle without damaging the bag material. You can always make a bag from them using my method, you just need to use glue, instead of a sewing machine.

Once you’ve found the bag you want you should take off both the top and bottom binding material and lay the bag out flat on a cutting surface and trim the edges of the top or bottom if necessary.

I am using a cutting wheel with a ruler made specifically for cutting wheels on my bag but you can use regular scissors. 

Once you’ve evened up the edges you can cut off the top part of the bag so you will have some material to make a handle.

 

 

 

 

Don’t worry if the strip you have to work with is wrinkled or ugly, by the time you are finished flattening and folding and sewing it the handle will be fine.

I cut off enough so that I can fold it in half with the ends tucked in–so maybe 2.5 times the width of the final handle.

Here is the strip I cut in the first picture. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the second picture you can see the piece is much flatter after “hand ironing” and clamping with binder clips. I use binder clips for this project because they are much easier than shoving pins into the stiff material.

Once your handle is folded, clipped, and ready to sew you can set it aside.

Turn your bag inside out and use binder clips to fold a seam on the bottom edge of the bag.

You will then sew the seam and also sew the handle.

I sew two seams on the handle, one on each side, which stabilizes it and makes it less likely to roll. (see picture on lower left)

Once you’ve sewed the bottom seam you next sew the corners so you will have a bag that sits up on its own.

You will open the bag up (still keeping it inside out) and use a triangle guide to mark the corners.

I just make a triangle guide out of a reinforced piece of paper.

It’s easier to look at the following pictures to understand what I mean.

First you will turn the bag so the seam you’ve just sewed is running vertically, make sure the seam is centered and place the triangle on the corner and mark it with a pen or marker. 

See how the seam you’ve just sewn is facing you in the picture to the left (the one with my hand almost covering all the seam!)

That is the bottom of the bag and this is what you will stitch to make your bag stand up on its own.  

Here it is after I’ve drawn the marking:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then here it is after I’ve sewn both corners. I’ve left the picture larger so you can see what I mean. See how it is standing up, even though it is inside out?

Now you can turn your bag rightside out.

For the top edge of the bag you are going to fold the top over two times so there are no raw edges showing.

Once you’ve turned it over all the way around you can either pin or clamp it so that it’s even.

Now you will tuck the end of the handle under the fold at whatever two points on the bag you would like your handle.

Again I use binder clips to get everything into position.

Here is a picture of the back side of the bag all clipped and ready to sew!

Once everything is secure, you can sew it. It won’t be easy, the material is stiff and you will have to struggle with it. Just go slowly and keep checking that the slick material isn’t slipping.

Before I show you the finished project I’d like to share a bit about the sewing machine I’m using.

I bought this 1913 commercial Singer machine from a saddle maker who lived at the very end of The Santa Fe Trail (true story!) He was downsizing and had three commercial Singers just like this one. I already had 12 sewing machines at the time so I needed to make and sell a lot of these feed bags to justify the expenditure!

The machine was originally operated by a treadle but the saddle-maker attached a 1.5 HP motor to it and also added this (kind of ugly but very handy) formica top, complete with homemade scissor holder!

He showed me how to operate it when I bought it but it all dribbled out of my head before I actually got to use the machine.

 Luckily, the Smithsonian Institute has a library of operator manuals, so I was able to download a copy of the actual instruction manual

You don’t need to use a 1913 Singer to sew your bag, I sewed my first 50 bags on the first machine I bought for myself back in 1986, which is the cheapest Singer made.

Just make sure you buy a heavy needle adequate to the task and use heavy duty thread.

 

 

 

Okay! Here is what you’ve been waiting for, the finished bag! 

Voila! I hope you give this a try and upcycle a bag of your own. Please don’t hesitate to ask questions!

If you’d like to win the bag I’ve upcycled in this article please come and check out my upcoming Facebook Party on June 18, 2018, where I’m giving away not only a bag, but other goodies, too! NO purchase necessary. Link to Summer Reading List Launch Party!!

The 500-hour skirt . . . (yes, again!)

NOTE: I’m re-posting this by request because I’m crocheting another skirt just like it, but in chili red.

Yes, I really am crazy. . .

Every time I wear this skirt people want to know more about it and also want to know where I found the pattern. I’ve attached the pattern link below and it’s free!!

If you decide you want to make one and have any questions please feel free to ask me as I see granny squares in my sleep. I’ve also made just about every mistake a person can make–at least when it comes to this pattern. 

This time I will post more pictures as I go along.


Last April I decided I had to have this skirt I saw featured on beautifulcrochetstuff.com

crochet-maxi-skirt-free-pattern

I’m a self-taught knitter and crocheter who knows just enough about both to be dangerous (to myself, mostly). By dangerous I mean I frequently get into projects that are well over my head.

 

If I would have stopped and thought about it for a second (which I didn’t) I would have said, “No way!” to making this skirt.

Instead, I looked online for the yarn (well, thread would be more accurate). The woman who designed the pattern  recommends: Alize Forever cotton. I found the product for sale in Latvia. Seriously. It cost less than $2/skein and only took a few weeks to get all the way to the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Here is what it looks like when compared to both a spool of sewing thread and serger thread (finer than normal thread):

SAM_0421.JPG

Scary, huh?

I began crocheting the granny squares last April. I wish I had taken photos, but it didn’t occur to me what a monumental task this project would be (told you I didn’t think things through…)

All of the squares looked wrinkly and oddly-shaped and . . . weird. But I just kept going. I made about 10 squares and then put the project away until November 2016, when I finished the squares and began to join everything together. Each row took about 2 hours, not counting the time it took me to undo mistakes I made. Since I worked on this while streaming movies with my husband, I frequently crocheted entire rows that were wrong.

It looked like the skirt wasn’t getting any bigger, even after a few months of working on it 4 or 5 evenings a week. But persistence paid off and so did the fact I wanted it finished for my conference in LA this March.

I was crocheting the frill on the bottom and feeling like it would never be quite long enough when I decided to see if I could press it with an iron and maybe “flatten” it out a bit.

Whoops!

Yes, this was exactly what the granny squares needed to become beautiful and flat. In fact, the skirt became plenty long after I pressed it. It was beautiful . I LOVED it. Unfortunately, once the fibers have been ironed it’s almost impossible to weave in all the loose ends on the garment.

So, live and learn. And also live with dozens of loose ends you are too afraid to cut and cannot weave in. . .

Anyhow, here are some pics of the finished product:

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A close up of the bottom:

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One of those pesky granny squares:

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And the waistband, which you crochet with thread and elastic thread:

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So, there is the skirt. I would make one and sell it for about a million dollars…

 

 

Book Review: Animal Hats

Animal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show offAnimal Hats: 15 patterns to knit and show off by Vanessa Mooncie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was shocked to see I am not the only person around with an obsession for animal hats. I haven’t knitted any animal hats, but here are a few I crocheted.

 

 

I’m much more comfortable with a crochet hook than I am with knitting needles so I just made up these hats as I went along. But for a knitted hat, I knew I would need a pattern.

I am currently making the rabbit hat and plan to tackle the more difficult elephant hat if that goes well.

So far I’m impressed with the book and find the instructions very straightforward and easy to understand. I like that each pattern lists yarn weights (mostly chunky) along with specific brand names. I am using Lion brand Thick and Quick for the rabbit hat instead of the Rowan Chunky Felted Tweed the book has listed. I love Rowan yarns but at $12.95/skein (If you can find it) that would put this hat (the pattern calls for 5 skeins) at just under $65, which I’m not willing to pay.   I dropped a needle size to get the right size for my gauge swatch.

None of the patterns are rated for skill level, but it is pretty clear by looking at them how difficult or easy they will be. The dog and frog hats, for example, look easier than the elephant or rabbit or cow.

The patterns all include both child and adult sizes.

Stay tuned for pictures as I promise to actually take some during the process this time!

I was planning to make these as Christmas gifts, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to give them away…

View all my reviews

Chicken art and more

Several months ago I promised a friend I would email her pictures of my (very few) paintings. Since I still haven’t gotten around to that, I decided to just post them here.

I decided to try my hand at painting when I wanted a mural around one of our fireplaces. I decided to start with the fireplace in our kitchen, a very small kiva fireplace we use often.

 

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I didn’t want to waste a good paintbrush on my experiment, so I used a .49 cent chip brush from the hardware store. It actually worked out pretty well, in my opinion. You can see a little of the flame details in this picture (you can see the Sharpie lines on the bottom right of the drawing, where I couldn’t get the outline of the flame quite right), I thought they ended up looking very smoke-blackened and I really like it.

After that, I thought I’d try my luck with some chicken portraits. . .

Here is the first one, which is a painting of Zsa Zsa, who is a somewhat crazy bird:

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I then painted Cordelia and Bernard on these two old Adirondack chair backs:

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Here’s a better photo of the Bernard chair:

bernard chair.JPG

Right now I’m working on a “barnyard” mural, but finding chickens in action are a lot more difficult to paint than my portraits…

 

The 500-hour skirt . . . (yes, again!)

NOTE: This is a re-post from last July because I’m crocheting another skirt just like it–but in chili red. Yes, I really am crazy. . . I will post more pictures as I get farther along.

I’m a self-taught knitter and crocheter who know just enough about both to be dangerous (to myself, mostly). By dangerous I mean I frequently get into projects that are well over my head.

Last April I decided I had to have this skirt I saw on beautifulcrochetstuff.com

crochet-maxi-skirt-free-pattern.jpg

If I would have stopped and thought about it for a second (I didn’t) I would have said, “No way!”

Instead, I looked online for the yarn (well, thread would be more accurate) she recommends: Alize Forever cotton. I found the product for sale in Latvia. Seriously. It cost less than $2/skein and only took a few weeks to get all the way to the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

Here is what it looks like when compared to both a spool of sewing thread and serger thread (finer than normal thread):

SAM_0421.JPG

Scary, huh?

I began crocheting the granny squares last April. I wish I had taken photos, but it didn’t occur to me what a monumental task this project would be (told I didn’t think things through…)

All of the squares looked wrinkly and oddly-shaped and . . . weird. But I just kept going. I made about 10 squares and then put the project away until November 2016, when I finished the squares and began to join everything together. Each row took about 2 hours, not counting the time it took me to undo mistakes I made. Since I worked on this while streaming movies with my husband, I frequently crocheted entire rows that were wrong.

It looked like the skirt wasn’t getting any bigger, even after a few months of working on it 4 or 5 evenings a week. But persistence paid off and so did the fact I wanted it finished for my conference in LA this March.

I was crocheting the frill on the bottom and feeling like it would never be quite long enough when I decided to see if I could press it with an iron and maybe “flatten” it out a bit.

Whoops!

Yes, this was exactly what the granny squares needed to become beautiful and flat. In fact, the skirt became plenty long after I pressed it. It was beautiful . I LOVED it. Unfortunately, once the fibers have been ironed it’s almost impossible to weave in all the loose ends on the garment.

So, live and learn. And also live with dozens of loose ends you are too afraid to cut and cannot weave in. . .

Anyhow, here are some pics of the finished product:

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A close up of the bottom:

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One of those pesky granny squares:

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And the waistband, which you crochet with thread and elastic thread:

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So, there is the skirt. I would make one and sell it for about a million dollars…