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Zero Waste - Boro Bag

by Julie Roussy Newton |

I am making tote bags made out of all my fabric scraps,  and I am very excited about it!

A lot of work goes into making these but the final product is so worth it. In order to create the fabric for the totes I am using a sped-up version of stitching entirely by hand. This technique allows me to combine the power of my serger and sewing machine with the care of hand stitching. I’m not using this method because I don't savour the process, but because sometimes when I take on completely hand-sewn projects the workload is a bit disheartening... being 18 hours into a project and still unable to see a glimmer of what it is going to transform into is just sometimes not what I need! 

The fabric I am creating from my scraps is based on a Japanese class of textiles called Bork, which refers to textiles that have been mended or patched together. 

Okay, so here’s how this baby was made: 

Step 1: Dive into your pile of scrap fabric! If you don’t have a pile of scrap fabric lying around, you can take apart old jeans that don’t fit, or thrift for clothing that you love the pattern of, knowing that you will be cutting it up for scraps. Next, depending on the fabric, cut or rip it into square of all sorts and sizes. You can also make triangles when you need to out of any awkward fabric pieces! Right triangle + right triangle = square, so you are set!

Step 2: Sew those bad boys together! My favourite part is deciding which scraps will be paired with which other scraps! Deciding the colour and/or texture combination that make you spark joy (shoutout Marie Kondo) is what this is really all about.

Step 2 Part B: Once you have your first two pieces sewn or serged together (I am using my serger today, but I often do this just with my sewing machine), cut them so all that all the sides match up, and that way you have a larger fabric rectangle.
Step 3: Keep sewing scraps together until you have all your individual pieces matched up! At this point, you just keep sewing and matching scraps together until you get the size of fabric you are looking for! Also, every time you sew your scraps together make sure to cut the edges straight and iron them!
I am keeping all of my cut off edges for an upcoming project :) Hong: they make great filling! 
Just keep swimming: sewing, cutting, ironing, pinning, repeat.
Slowly you start to get bigger and bigger pieces... muahahah!
Okay so I have definitely lost track of writing the steps because I was working on a few different projects today... but here are some pictures I took while making the tote bag out of the fabric.
First I sketched out a quick pattern for a tote bag. I kept it simple because this is a) a first prototype, and b) a quilted fabric. My pattern was for a lined tote bag with 3 pockets and a gusseted bottom. Pattern in hand, I then began cutting the fabric. 
After sewing the straps (the first ones I made were not wide enough so I had to remake them thicker) and sewing the pockets with a lining of fabric, I shibori dyed.
I also added a stabilizer in between the outside and the lining of the bag to give it a thicker feel. Then I hand stitched straight lines horizontally and vertically to add texture and to secure the lining. To do this I used both a long doll-making needle and a short needle for the different stitch length outcomes. 
Pinning and sewing the straps and then attaching them to the tote!
...and volia! A tote bag made 100% from fabric that would have otherwise not been used :) woop woo!

 

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