Thursday, January 6, 2011

Denim firewood tote

This was a christmas gift for my dad this year! I've finally managed to write up this post - and there are quite a lot of images here. That's just how it goes when I'm very pleased with what I've done! :P I haven't sewn much in my life, so completing this project felt really relly good. Even so, it is a fairly simple thing, this firewood tote. Basically, it's just a long piece of fabric with a handle in each end... Trust me to complicate something so simple. :)
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I've made other stuff from old jeans before - like this wrench case for my dad, and a Scripture cover several years before that... All my jeans get worn out in one particular place, while the rest is still in virtually pristine condition. Incredibly frustrating, right? So it feels so great to use something I would ordinarily throw away!
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After I had started working on it, I came across Laura Wilson's version of the same principle. The dimensions of her tote are radically different from mine, because it was made to carry a completely different type of firewood. Her construction is also different - I believe mine is slightly more complicated, but significantly stronger.
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I thought I'd share a little bit about how I made this tote. It is by no means meant to be a full tutorial - there's no way I have the necessary sewing skills to make enough sense in a tutorial. Also, I made this up as I went along and that's no good starting point for a tutorial. ;) (Also, please forgive the colours of the pictures being all over the place - they were taken at different times of day and in wildly different lighting conditions and I haven't done a very good job at matching the colours in post processing.)
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Basically, what I've done is to cut up the legs of two jeans, giving me eight rectangular pieces of fabrics. I sewed four of them together on the short sides to make a circle/loop, and then did the same with the other four pieces. The picture above shows the two circles pinned together along the long edge, gving me one wide circle of fabric.
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The seam you find on jeans is the flat-felled seam. I've done something closer to a french seam, which is significantly stronger, especially when anchored by the two topstitched seams you see here. I did my own version of it, of course... *lol* Skipped one step and added another - because I wanted two seams to be visible from the front, rather than hiding the seam on the wrong side, like in the video. And obviously, there's no way you'd find me pressing these seams! Hah! *rofl*
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Sooo many layers... You can see the short-side seams are slightly off-set, because there's no way they would go through the sewing machine if they lined up. I hand-turned the sewing machine over these, every time. That's a good way to give yourself an aching arm, trust me. But this way, I only broke one needle! *lol*
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Aah, now this thing right here, that's one of the things I really struggled with. But the result was so worth it! I made two holes like this, cut into the fabric at opposite sides, where the handles would go. My initial plan was just to cut a hole, fold the edges back and stitch in place. That turned out to be a really lousy plan... It was ugly and flimsy and would have frayed badly after the first use. Time for Plan B - which was to line the opening with a separate piece of fabric. Not such an easy thing to figure out for a novice sewer. But I triumphed and have actually written up a tutorial on this thing, ready for you in a day or two just follow this link!
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And there you have it, when folded at the middle they make the perfect space for a hand. After making the openings I put the fabrics right sides together and stitched down both sides. Then I turned it inside out through one of the handle openings and topstitched down each side near the edge for added strength (this seam is only just visible on the left side in the photo below).
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I cut two pieces from a broomstick handle and sanded down the edges. The handles need to be strong enough to carry some weight, but thin enough so you can comfortably get a secure grip on both handles at once. The topmost double seam holds each handle in place, while the bottom double seam secures all the fabric layers in this area - including the lining of the handle opening.
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Always sign your work! ;) I freehanded the letters and embroidered my name using double thread. I actually did my whole name, but have removed my last name from the pictures. All done, now go present it to your dad/mom/family member/friend and bask in compliments. :) If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments and check back later, and I'll try to answer them there. Keep in mind that I'm not an experienced sewer, so take any advice at your own risk... ;)
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I'm linking up to this week's Strut Your Stuff Thursday at Somewhat Simple (button in side bar), and Fabric Fun Thursday at Cheap Chic Home.

3 comments:

  1. You did a fine job - it's hard to believe you don't sew much. You definitely have a future ahead of you. The handles are great and I like that you personalized it.

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  2. This looks awesome...if I knew anyone that had a fireplace this would be a perfect gift!

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