Crazy Quilted Plastic Bag Caddy
Julie Yonge © 2006
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You know that thing that everyone has in their kitchen, perhaps in their pantry that holds plastic bags? You stuff them in the top and then when one is needed, pull one out from the bottom. Well, I don't know about you, but I have one that is the ugliest thing you have ever seen and we have been using it for years. I am always on the lookout for items that CQ will liven up a bit and one day in the kitchen I looked at that ratty old thing and decided it was time to upgrade that plastic bag caddy. This project is fun and easy. I am sure you can add your own special touches to personalize it for your dιcor.
I decided on a muslin foundation piece 18 x 24. The 18 works very well for the circumference of the bag, but you can easily shorten or lengthen the bag according to your own needs. Basically, this would be a 24 long tube of fabric with a seam down the center back. I like to iron my seam allowances ahead of time it just helps me visually and often helps later in their construction. So, I ironed 1/2 seam allowance on either side of the 24 edges and I folded the ironed edges to the center back where the center back seam would later be. I then marked on the muslin where the front center area would be to help with piecing and design placement. I decided to incorporate the colors of my kitchen into the piece, which are light earthy tones of taupe, country blues, sage greens and soft browns.
In thinking about the design of the bag, I decided it best to keep the bottom 5 plain and use a lightweight fabric. I simply put a 5 band of blue silk dupioni across the entire bottom of the piece. This would be the finished bottom of the bag and would be gathered together so SRE or hand embroidery would be wasted in this area. Instead I later added a lace trim at the top of the 5 band of blue silk dupioni that would hang down and add some interesting texture and movement.
I wanted to incorporate some silk prints and decided on botanicals of vintage herbal and fruit chromolithographic prints. Many of the prints were of poor quality so I tweaked them quite a bit in Adobe Photoshop to add contrast, sharpness, and even add a tint of my color scheme as a watercolor background wash to them. The pieced foundation gave me an idea of the sizes I needed for the silk prints and once happy with the graphic work I had done, I printed them to the appropriate size on silk with my color printer. I took the paper backing off the printed silk page and then ironed on Steam-a-Seam II to the page (because that is what I had most handy, but it could be any adhering/fusible iron-on product such as Wonder Under, etc.). I then cut out each print, took the Steam-a-Seam backing off and burned their edges with a wood-burning tool. I laid out my pieced foundation, decided on placement of the prints and then ironed them firmly into place.
Now for the fun part embellishing! I embroidered the seams, added pieces of lace (that I had tea dyed and then added touches of my color scheme to with a paint brush), buttons, beads, and a tiny bit of silk ribbon. A fun and funky addition was the mother-of-pearl shell dangles that were already on jump-rings that I added to the tips of the lace at the bottom and top of the bag. The addition of these dangles was done after constructing the bag. I found these shell dangles at my local Wal-Mart.
Once your foundation piece is completely embellished, you are ready to construct the bag. I lined the embellished foundation with a piece of muslin, 18 x 20. First of all I wanted to protect the ends of the ribbons and yarns on the underneath of the foundation since this is a utilitarian piece. Secondly, I only lined the area from the top of my piece to the seam of the 5 band of blue silk dupioni at the bottom of my piece. I didn't want to add extra bulk to the bottom band since this would later be turned up to be my finished hem.
At the bottom inside of the bag just below the top of the 5 band of blue silk dupioni, I sewed in a piece of ½ bias folded tape (which I made with left-over muslin and the handy Clover tool for making bias folded tape). This would be the casing for my elastic. The lace on the outside of the foundation completely hides the stitching for this casing.
For the top band of the bag, I cut a piece of brown silk dupioni, 4 x 18. I pressed a ½ seam allowance on each of the 18 sides. Taking one of the 18 sides of the brown silk dupioni and with right sides together, I sewed the brown silk dupioni to the foundation piece. I then folded the brown silk dupioni in half, wrong sides together and pressed in a nice crease with the iron, then unfolded it for the next step.
With the right sides together of the fully embellished foundation piece, I stitched the back center seam of the bag. Once you have stitched the back seam, turn the bag inside out so that your embellishments are on the outside. You already have a nice crease in the brown silk dupioni at the top of the bag where you will fold it towards the inside or wrong side of the bag and then there is a nice pressed ½ seam allowance that should meet the stitching line where you added the top band to the bag. I just hand stitch this down to give a nice finished look. This way, you don't see the raw back seam as you look into the top of the bag. I do basically the same thing at the bottom of the bag. First, I press a ½ seam allowance on the bottom of the blue silk dupioni, then turn it up to the inside to meet the seam where I added the bias tape elastic casing and I hand stitch into place.
To gather the bottom of the bag, I measured out a fair piece of Ό elastic (about 8 as I hate to have elastic come out of one end as I am trying to get it to the other end) and ran it through the muslin bias tape casing at the bottom of the bag. I then pulled it until I was happy with the opening size, sewed the elastic together and trimmed any excess. My final opening is probably about 3 across, but could be smaller or somewhat larger depending on the overall size of your caddy. You just don't want your plastic bags to readily fall out. For the top band, I stitched a ½ casing onto the brown silk dupioni (placed in the middle of the 4 band) so I would have a little bit of header fabric like you would do the top of a curtain, and because I wanted a bit of a gather at the top of the bag as well just to enhance the overall shape of the bag. I then opened the back seam between the top and bottom of the stitched casing lines ONLY, on the inside of the bag and ran a piece of ½ blue satin ribbon through the stitched casing. This is what I use to hang the bag on the kitchen cabinet knob. Since the caddy is stuffed with plastic bags, it remains very lightweight.
The bag is ready to stuff with plastic bags, hang, and use. I asked my husband if he would use such a fancy plastic bag caddy and he assured me he would! Three guesses where the old ugly plastic bag caddy got stuffed!
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