Thursday, June 28, 2007

R.I.P. Plastic Grocery Sacks

Rather than talking about sewing bags today, I want to pause to mention all the changes happening where I live in California regarding plastic grocery bags.

As of July 1, a new law goes into effect here, Assembly Bill AB 2449, requiring large companies to provide recycling bins for plastic bags.
The aim of the Bill is to reduce litter, as this plastic does not decompose in landfills.

Some local grocery chains already have this service, but Costco has decided to eliminate using the non-biodegradable bags altogether.

Some shoppers will be bringing their own bags to the stores now.
Some people are hoping consumers opt for reusable tote bags, even expensive designer versions.

Evidently to most folks in Europe and Australia, this is old news.
They've been using their own bags for years.
I've spoken with some of you via email who live in the eastern United States,
and you've got those bags in your car trunks too.
We've just got to retrain our spoiled selves also.

Reusable tote bags may be the best option.
There is some question as to which manufacturing process produces the most environmentally sensitive bag--the cotton, or the corn, or the....

Jen of The Felt Mouse just mentioned the reusable bags sold at Target stores.

I prefer the smaller 99 cent totes sold by Trader Joes.

The Bag Snob is eagerly anticipating the bag made my Anya Hindmarch.

Read about it here and here.

Post about Envirosax from Brownie Points.

Cal Arts students sew their own totes, as seen on the blog Core 77.

Reusable Bags for sale.
Also Envirotote.

Interesting article by The Seattle Times.
Similar stories by Fox News, and the Honolulu Advisor.

Or here is the complete article by Jane Adams from the Chicago Tribune. Good stuff!

Green is the new black --in grocery bags
Fashionistas promote eco-chic totes as cities look at banning non-biodegradable plastic

By Jane Meredith Adams
Special to the Tribune

June 25, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO -- Plastic grocery bags are out.

They're not just being banned from large grocery stores here -- which a new law mandates will happen before it's time to buy a Thanksgiving turkey -- but out as in outmoded. In a merger of environmental concern and fashion sensibility, big-name designers are introducing eco-chic grocery totes, while lawmakers in New York, Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and elsewhere debate San Francisco-style bans on non-biodegradable, petroleum-based plastic bags.

These green fashionistas hope to lure the style-conscious into a nationwide anti-plastic-bag frenzy egged on by, of all forces, the fashion bible Vogue magazine. "Today, let us go out and harness the power of fashion to change the way the nation shops," contributing editor Sarah Mower wrote in last month's edition. "One stylish act of rebellion in supermarkets, delis, drugstores and designer emporiums and at market stalls is all it takes: Say no to plastic bags."

The goal is to make it chic to bring your own bag, be it a Hermes $960 Silky Pop grocery tote, due out this summer, or a $1 Whole Foods green bag, said Claire White, editor of It's been estimated that plastic bags take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills. "Eventually everyone is going to end up reusing grocery bags," White wrote in an e-mail. "The only question is when."

Roughly 100 billion plastic bags are buried in landfills each year in the U.S., according to Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research agency.

On Thursday, British designer Anya Hindmarch released 20,000 of her limited-edition "I'm not a plastic bag" cotton totes in the U.S., as 90,000 bag-hungry consumers competed in a lottery for the privilege of buying the $15 bag, according to Kelly Cook, co-owner of When an earlier version of the bag was spotted on the arm of actress Keira Knightley, the tote became a must-have item, said Cook, and the panache has only been enhanced by the fact that most of Hindmarch's other shoulder bags sport a $1,000 price tag.

Also due out this summer in supermarket couture is Stella McCartney's $495 organic cotton canvas shopping bag and Consuelo Castiglioni of Marni's $843 collapsible nylon grocery tote.

Meanwhile in San Francisco, shoppers appear to be using everything from Trader Joe's $1.99 Hawaiian print totes to their bare hands, as was the case with a man who shunned a paper bag and carried a container of edamame beans to his car from Real Foods in the city's Marina district. That's good preparation for Nov. 20, when large supermarkets in San Francisco will have the option of providing customers only with paper bags or compostable bags made of cornstarch.

Andrea Arria-Devoe, the San Francisco editor of the style Web site, grocery shops with two green Whole Foods totes. "My husband and I got into a fight about it, because he mindlessly accepts plastic bags. Now he refuses them with 'My wife will kill me.' "

San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to opt for the bag ban.

The law, passed in March, affects large supermarkets and drugstores. Small stores will still be able to pack customers' goods in plastic. The pharmacy bag ban takes effect later.

The 50 grocery stores that would be most affected had argued that the ban was not reasonable because plastic bags made of corn byproducts are a relatively new, expensive and untested product. Some said they might offer only paper bags at checkout.

Rainbow Grocery, a vegetarian emporium, has never offered plastic bags to customers. Outside recently, art student Ying Hsiao wore a handsome messenger bag slung across her back and prepared to fill it with bounty. "I started bringing my own bag about four years ago, when I became vegan," she said.

Poised to pedal off on his bike, Philip Watson carried a half-gallon of soy milk, yogurt, a hunk of kale, and oranges and apples on his back in a sturdy backpack, while Michelle Menegaz and her daughters, Eva and Gabi, wheeled out provisions in three large canvas bags. But canvas wasn't an ecologically perfect choice either, Menegaz noted. "Cotton is extremely resource intensive," she said.

"I'm going to miss the plastic bags when they go away," said Diana Shook, who carried frozen hash browns and other supplies in a blue and white canvas tote. "I use them to clean out the kitty litter."

When consumers bring their designer bags into the supermarket, will they really be loading them up with melting ice cream and slabs of salmon? Cook of has a confession. "I had my Anya bag when I went to the market, and it was so cute that I have to admit, when the guy was bagging my chicken, I said, you'd better not," she said. She took the plastic, for now.

Tribune news services contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Vinyl Inspiration

Vinyl Beach Bag
Vinyl is such a perfect material for beach bags.
This bag features clear outer pockets.
And what perfect inspiration I've found,
in a Japanese Craft Book called "Vinyl Bag Collection"

You can buy clear vinyl at any fabric store (it is used to cover tablecloths, to make book covers, etc).
There are different gauges (meaning thickness).
I like the medium weight that is easy to use with a sewing machine, but not so flimsy as the really light one.
Sometimes you can find patterned vinyl, or tinted vinyl.
I like the clear varieties rather than the fabric-backed types used for upholstery that are so much thicker.
Oilcloth is another similar option that would make a cute beach bag.

Remember, when sewing vinyl, use a walking foot or a teflon foot.
Or, you can stitch with tissue paper either atop the feed dogs, or on top of your fabric (I prefer the latter).
A silicone like Sewer's Aid is also helpful.

Also, adjust your machine tension--too tight and the sewing will 'saw' the fabric rather than stitch it.
It takes a bit of practice, but once you master's addicting.

Vinyl tote
Japanese bags tend to feature a lot of circles.
This is a see-through bag with circular appliques, all in vinyl.
This about makes me squeal with delight.

Vinyl flowers bag
Clear red with appliqued flowers.

Cherry Tote
I love the hanging cherries on this one.

Vinyl Tote
I could be wrong, but this appears to be a clear vinyl bag with fabric strips as embellishment.
I like that idea of combining materials.

Tank Top Tote
This one is called the Tank Top Tote, because that's what it looks like.
But it's all vinyl.

Are you inspired yet?

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Inspiration and ideas

How cool is this beach bag, made from a recycled shower curtain?! Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!
I found this on the amazing Wardrobe Refashion.
The bag was actually made by Aurora of Touch the Spindle.

Make a bag from a tank top, at Making Friends.

Crocheted beach bag free pattern at Crystal Palace Yarns.

Another crocheted bag pattern at Learn How to Crochet.

They also have a similar crocheted mesh bag pattern.

Turkish string bag, from WPI.

And if you're in the market to BUY a new beach bag, check out:
the Tatami Seagrass bag, from The Rainforest Site.

Pink ribbon beach bag
honors breast cancer awareness.

Solar-powered beach bag recharges your gadgets while you bask in the sun, as seen on Geek Sugar.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Okay, back to beach bag ideas

Terry and vinyl beach bag
Here's inspiration from the book Making Handbags, by Goldstein-Lynch/Mullins/Malone.

This is terrycloth, with exterior pockets in clear vinyl.
Most of you already know how much I love vinyl.
And it's the perfect medium for a bag that is going to probably get wet.

I have lots more ideas with vinyl--I'll post later in the week.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Zippered Purse Pattern

Hip Pockets bag pattern
This little bag pattern is in the current (summer 2007) issue of
Quilts and More magazine (Better Homes and Gardens Creative Collection).

This *might*, ahem, be a good pattern for you to use for a future theme.
Just sayin'...

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

What a fun tote!

Eek--how freakin' cute is this tote made by Catrina of Bumblefunck?!

Keep in mind that Catrina only started sewing like a year ago, and she is always making amazing bags.
I love this idea of patchwork detail.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Paper or Plastic?

Plastic lends itself perfectly to beach bags--for holding wet clothes and towels and sand that can later just be hosed clean.
So one option is to consider knitting or crocheting from 'yarn' cut from plastic grocery bags.

I have lots of links on the sidebar here, including some great ideas from Marlo's Crochet Corner.

Still need inspiration? How about this:

Alexis Berger creates some amazing designs by crocheting plastic bags. You can view her public gallery via her Picassa web album.

Or, if you don't want to work with plastic, you can consider unusual materials.
Make a burlap beach bag from Craftown.

Or how about duct tape?!
Here's how at Making Friends.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New ideas

How about if you make a convertible tote that becomes a beach mat.
Trick Beach Bag Pattern
(this pattern from Smart Sewing Magazine, 2nd edition, 1950)

Maybe you could figure out a way to turn a cute poncho like this into a bag...
Bathing suit/poncho, 1970

Think outside the box, people.

What do you like to do? Picnic? Swim? Play games?
Make a bag appropriate for your uses.
There's an expression in design--form follows function.
In other words, be creative to serve your own needs.

Perhaps you need a tote for art supplies, or camera equipment.
I personally need supplies for the dogs I take to the beach, so I may journey in that direction.

What new ideas can you come up with?

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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Beach Bag idea

And don't forget books for ideas and inspiration:
Beach Bag
From Crazy Quilting in a Weekend, by Flora Roberts. Copyright 2005.

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Pattern inspiration

Along with vintage patterns, of course there are lots of new patterns on the market for bags.
There aren't any beach bags, per se, but I want to mention a company Melly & Me, out of Australia (sisters Melanie and Rosalie have several commercial bag patterns available. I already mentioned Rosalie's patterns in an earlier post).
They also have an etsy shop.

Here's a bag one of their blog readers, Cathy of Miss Marzie, made from their 'Sunshine' pattern out of tea towels--isn't it incredible?

Another reader, Lisa of Pink Lemonade Boutique. made this gorgeous scrappy log cabin bag using the tutorial on the Melly & Me site.

Their newest pattern is called 'Sherbet'


Friday, June 8, 2007

Vintage beach bag ideas

For your beach bag, you might consider using a vintage pattern.
Here are a couple in my own collection:

This one has a damaged envelope, but you can still see the fun flower-like design
flip beach bag

Or this interesting design, where one handle fits into the other.
I have seen new variations of this.
Sometimes one handle is much shorter,
other times the bag is divided vertically in two print colors.
beach bag

Or a classic drawstring
Tunic, hat, beach bag pattern

Or a super-size tote
Parsons School of Design

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Hammock Bag

I like the idea of an ergonomic sling like The Hammock Bag, especially for my yoga stuff.
Also available on ebay.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Most of you know I love working with and supporting artists who utilize recycled materials, so naturally I think Rosewebs is awesome.

She makes totes from lawn-chair webbing.
What a wonderful, resilient material to consider!

Please note that I post tutorials on this site so you can make your own bags, but I also post companies from which you can purchase readymade items.

Really, we need both types of bags, don't you think?

So while I hope to stir your creative urges for each challenge, I don't mean for you to just recreate bags off these people's ideas.
In other words, support your local artist, okay?

Thanks to Jen for telling me about this etsy store.

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Sunday, June 3, 2007


Nothing says summer more than blow-up beach balls, so why not blow-up totes?

The inflatable tote bags by Juicy Couture are sold out at Nordstrom, but look to be on sale at Saks (or google to find other places to order, if you're interested) what a great idea!

Bubble Furniture had some inflatable sports bags and backpacks, but they seem to be sold out now. Try here.

Found this one while cruising the internet, but could not find manufacturer info

I figure it still might spark your imagination on crafting with vinyl, or bubblewrap, or something...

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

How should you make your beach bag?

Okay, beach bag...what are the options?

One idea for your beach bag is to contruct it using a beach towel or bath towel, like I did in this past post.
Towel Tote

Here's a version by Martha Stewart.

Make a bag from a hand towel and washcloth, at Family Fun.

Here's a little tiny bag, from a vintage booklet by Canon Towels.
Towel Robe and Beach Bag

Beach bag/pillow from Girl's Life.
Here's another pillow bag, but made with a beach towel, from

Tutorial (on Adobe) from Utah State University, for making a bag from a beach towel.

If you don't want to use a towel, you can go the recycled route with your beach bag.
Martha Stewart used an old tablecloth for this tote.

Or how about a large tote lined with vinyl (idea from HGTV)?

As always, try to kick it up a notch.
This is about exploring, learning, challenging oneself, and having fun.
Play with it!

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