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Reuse, Restyle Evening Bag

Sew-ers have the advantage of being able to refurbish old or unused garments or accessories into something new and serviceable. Just about everyone has an ill-fitting or out of style item or two in their wardrobe. If this is a quality piece or in reasonably good condition, the fabric, lining, etc. can often be recycled at a considerable savings.

For instance, cotton or linen fuller skirts can become aprons. Too tight sleeves removed from a jacket transform it into a vest. Grandma’s bridal dress refashioned into a christening gown would be particularly special, as would reusing the lace on another bridal dress. Revamp large scarves into the front of a blouse, pillow or interesting lining. Stitch mittens out of old sweaters or cut the ribbing from sleeves and sew it inside the wrist sections of  jacket or coat sleeves to help keep out the chill. Denim jeans are favored for restyling into such articles as skirts, handbags, belts and hair accessories

Recycling clothing isn’t the only way to reuse and renew. An interesting concept is to modify non-clothing items into something wearable. A hinged watch box or eye glass case are the perfect bases for small evening bags. The smaller the case, the more difficult it can be to cover them with fabric, so using glue or a glue gun to adhere jewels, feathers, buttons, ribbons, etc. may be more practical.

The evening bag shown in this article started life as a lady’s watch box.

The inside sections were removed and patterns made by drawing around the appropriate sections and adding 3/8” seam allowances.

Two pieces of lining, one piece of fusible web and one piece of thin cardboard (a manila file folder worked well) were cut from each pattern piece. The web was sandwiched between the lining pieces and fused. Cardboard was laid on the back of each “sandwich” with the 3/8” seam allowance folded over and fused onto the cardboard. A double stick tape would also work well.

At this point, an optional small pocket with quarter-inch elastic was sewn onto one section. To eliminate the need for batting, a double-faced zebra print with fleece backing was chosen for the outer fabric. A pattern was traced around the flat top and bottom of the box adding 3/8” for seams.

 The outside curved sections were measured for length and 3/8” was added on three sides. The width was determined and doubled so this piece could accommodate what was needed to cover both the outside and inside curve of the box. An allowance of ” was added to the width and was hidden when the lining was in place. The flat and curved sections were stitched together then placed over the box with the curved pieces folded to the inside and glued in place. Two triangular “gussets” were glued onto each side before adding lining over the hinges.

The last two sections were glued in place and covered raw edges. A shoulder strap braided from 3 sizes of cord was stitched to opposite sides of the curved sections to keep the bag from flipping over when worn. A reclaimed rhinestone shank button and corded loop form the closure and decorative braid hides all raw edges and the outside seams. Sequins and small crystal beads were hand-sewn on the front and back sections for added pizzazz.

Renew, reuse and restyle have recently become popular buzz words for new as well as seasoned sew-ers. Peruse your closets and drawers for usable items before making any purchases that just might end up “aging” in your stash.  

by Marcella Joswick
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