Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art Bags Handcraft

Ever since I saw this tutorial on how to make a field bag from recycled clothing, I'd been wanting to make something like it for the kids for our nature outings. The thought of all three of them carrying their own supplies on our nature outings was a big draw.

Knowing a bit about basic sewing, all I needed was the idea. So yesterday, I rummaged through some old clothes to see what we had and found a shirt for my youngest and some old jeans for my boy. My oldest daughter picked an old dress she loved and off I went on my latest preoccupation.

Handcrafts in our home mostly happen this way... when I have an urge or a fun project just happens to come our way from reading blogs, talking with friends, etc. They don't happen weekly, but they are on my schedule to remind me that if it's been a while, it's time to find something to do. We also tend to do more handcrafts in the Fall/Winter months than we do in the Spring/Summer.

I started with my 2yo's bag so if I made mistakes, it would be on hers.

I cut the bottom part off, including the button because that makes it so cute! Measured size based on our new 4x6 sized nature journals we just got for $3 each at Art Supply Warehouse (thanks Sophia!) and our paint sets, then sewed around the edges inside out for a clean seam.

Once that was done, I turned it right side out, roughly measured again using the notebook and paint and stitched a line up from the bottom to the top separating the bag into two compartments - one larger for the notebook and one smaller for paints and pencils.

We decided to flip the pencil compartment behind the book compartment and made a tie to tie it together. Then I added a strap and oala!

Here's big sister's made from her old dress. You can see the finishing on the strap is nothing spectacular.

And for my son, he wanted a button instead of a tie. I love that big pocket from his cargo pants in front for extra storage. They're pretty excited about nature journaling now :)

As happens on most days when I'm preoccupied with some project or other, most things, aside from meals don't get done around the house until around midnight or later. Thankfully, I have a very gracious husband who's relaxed his standards of household excellence over the last eleven years of our marriage. Not that that's a good thing, and I'm sure some of you are praying for me right now as you read this, but let me just say I've improved a lot since when we were first married and I had cockatiels and parakeets loose in the home and ashtrays everywhere. But that's a whole other story. Let's just say we've both adjusted some of our expectations towards each other and at times have also risen to meet expectations. It's part of what makes a marriage work.

Anyhow, I spent the most part of the day making those bags. Having shown the kids how to do a basic embroidery stitch a while ago, they took scraps and thread and needle and started working on their own stitching. They threaded their own needles and I tied a knot in the end for them.

Here's what my creative 6yo son ended up with - an airplane!

Here's one of the pieces my 8yo daughter made - I did the finishing on one side for her. We had made a small quilt before and she remembered how to sew inside out and turn it right side out.

She made four of these and then sewed them together, which isn't exactly the right way to do it, but we'll leave that for her to learn another day.

Isn't it amazing what they can manage with just a little help? Here's what CM said about handicrafts:

The points to be borne in mind in children's handicrafts are: (a) that they should not be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like; (b) that they should be taught slowly and carefully what they are to do; (c) that slipshod work should not allowed; (d) and that, therefore, the children's work should be kept well within their compass. (Vol. 1, p.315)

And here's a page from AmblesideOnline on Handicrafts.


  1. What a lovely idea... :D
    Just wanted to let you know the link to Ambleside is not working...

  2. Thank you Sigalit, I fixed the link :)

  3. I love this! I have a bag of clothes to be donated. I'm going to go look and see if I can make a art bag out of them! Thanks!

  4. Lovely bags, Naomi! You are clever and a diligent worker. I love your children's creations. Those are precious.

  5. SO SO SO cool! I love how you're always up to something fun and creative with your kids!