Monday, March 30, 2009

The Story of My Life..

Or, how to make anything more complicated than it needs to be.

That does seem to be a continuing theme that I see over and over with any project!

But with that said... how about a tutorial?? Let me see if I can't make you wish you never asked.

What? You didn't ask? Well, I know your shy and afraid that I wouldn't be willing to share my secret most complicated way of doing something, but I feel it is the right thing to do, and then you would know what it is like to be me and there would be no doubt as to why I am always a little confused and shall we say distracted???

I don't know what it is about these feed sacks, but something about them just makes me happy!! I love everything about them. The colors are pure and bright. I love the graphics on the bag, I love the size, the fact that they are something that if I don't make them into a tote/bag, at best they will be used as garbage sacks and then tossed away with the trash. Someone asked me when I was showing them the bag, if I drew the image??
(They couldn't figure out what I was so excited about.)

I guess I'm not really sure either, but maybe the whole recycle, reuse, repurpose idea at it's best? It is a modern day take on the flour sacks of our ancestors? A reusable bag made from a "throw away" item? Repurposed??? Well, does it really matter?
Here I go making it too complicated, (it might just be that I like it.)

Here we have a bag dressed up with dingle ball trim.

A horse feed sack, that has a gathered ruffle trim, which coordinates with the inside of the handle.

A large red rickrack trim, and then further embellished with a vintage flower and ribbon tied to the handle.

This hen has a bright pink studded crown.
So help me here people lets all get a feed sack and make a bag!

The other reason for the tutorial is... They take way too long for me to make and if we want to recycle most effectively I'm going to need some help, reusing all the left over feed sacks in America.

Warning here... These are so cute that you might find yourself at the farm store looking at all the great bags, contemplating buying pigs, cows, turkeys, game birds, whatever just so you can have a different feed sack....
This might have to be part one of a two part tutorial because I have a way of making things much more complicated than it needs to be...
So with that, let the fun begin!!!
Pick your favorite sack.

Trim the ends straight.

Here is where you get to decide how big you want you bag to be...
(I'm thinking you might want to go as big as possible and you will see why later..)

I cut off at the color stripe or wherever there is a natural break in the design, from the bottom of the sack. I wanted to make these with the straps connected to the bag as one piece, instead of sewn on. My thought was it would be stronger and I just liked the way it made it look more like it was a feed sack...

So you cut the middle out and leave the edges where the fold is on the side for the handles.

Then you cut a piece out of the middle of the strap, so you can lay it over itself and sew it back together... I hope that is clear??? It will make more sense when you get to that part.

Turn the sack inside out and clean it...

Stitch the bottom a few times so it is strong and use a short stitch. Then turn the bag so you can make a point or triangle, and stitch.

The bag will have a bottom
(that should make sense, refer to the picture... lets call that a triangle.) You might want to make it a little straighter than I did, or keep trying until you do ...
Here is where I was glad I had made it big, because I sewed the bottom seam where the sides were facing each other instead of the front to the back... Remember we are using little stitches? There is no ripping out, so....

Now I cut the bottom off and the triangles, straightened the sack again... was I ever glad I had a big bag because now it was going to be 3 inches smaller... I then put the front to the back and sewed it again and redid the triangles that make a bottom... (I told you this was harder than it needed to be.)
Can you see in the picture below where I cut a piece out of the middle of the strap so I could sew it to itself?
Why I did this instead of just cutting from both sides??
Maybe because it makes it easier to pleat?? I don't think it really matters, but what I knew for certain was I did not want to turn this handle inside out not to mention it was connected to the bag. I wanted it to be double thick so I sewed it together on both sides and then, to make it more complicated and time consuming, I used biased tape on the edges. Then naturally I couldn't leave well enough alone so I sewed rickrack on top of the bias tape so it would be oh so cute!!
This will be fairly obvious when you get to this spot, and frankly every time it is different?? I like the strap to be long so it will go over your neck as a shoulder bag, I don't want it to be very wide, but I like it better double thick. I just pieced it together with parts from the sack that I cut off in the beginning.
I think the clothes pins work better than straight pins, the material is a little slippery... It is also much different than sewing cloth because it doesn't fold like cloth, but I just let it kinda do what it wants and not "tame" it too much... I use the natural creases and folds as much as I can.

See the pleats? You can kind of decide how you like yours at this point, it can be trimmed and fiddled with until you like it, (you might end up with a wallet...)

Oddly enough I ended up with the strap being connected to the bag on the inside instead of the outside as I would have preferred??? That is why I made the little flaps on the end of the strap.
I think it is fun to just go for it and see what happens.

Now for the fun part... Which trim shall we use on the front? Fringe? Dingle balls, large rickrack? Red or black? Or white? How about the red and black with silver???

Enough for now! If you make a feed sack bag/tote let me know. Send a picture and I will post it or a link to your blog and we will all come see.
And yes I know, I could have just cut off the top turned it over and used grommets to weave rope for a handle, which is very cute, but that just wasn't complicated enough!


  1. are too funny! This is a GREAT tutorial and a GREAT idea!! I don't have any farm critters YET....but do buy bunny feed and litter in big bags. None of it comes in those plasticy bags though.....I will have to ask at the feed store. I bet she would save me ones from when they dump the misc. feed into their bulk hoppers!!! Thanks...I LOVE to recycle!
    Blessings- LillySue

  2. Love the black and white cow...Perfect for Farm Chicks!! xoxo Cindy

  3. YIPPIE!!! They are super cute. Each one is cuter than the last one. I too walk thru the feed store looking for cute bags. I think I need a goat and a mule:) and a chicken and a ......

  4. Great job Joy, looks like a lot of work but fun, once you figured it out. It makes me want to go out and buy a bag of chicken feed just for that purpose. Oh No!!!!! What have you created.

  5. Good grief! E-A-S-I-E-R tutorials s'il vous plait.

    You are very creative and I love you. You know how you feel about my doll heads and doll parts? I'm just sayin'!

    Miss you and love you LOTS!


    p.s. I stumbled upon a new and awesome idea for you for Farm Chicks!! I know you'll love it! Can't wait to see ya!

  6. Oh, JOY! I LOVE you! I haven't had so much fun laughing in DAYS!

    Back in the day when I was teaching Home Ec. and getting the middle school kids to make tote bags I called the "triangles" "dog ears". Now why didn't I think of calling them triangles! Maybe too much MATH! lol!

    Now if we could just get a black market business going for animal feed bags ....

    Call me if you need a partner in crime!


    Betty :)

    ps - I just posted a bunch of pink-ness, so amble on over for a look-see and share a smile.

    B :)

  7. Doesn't it feel good to see something that was in your head come to life?!? You did it! They are great. Love the chicken. Hugs, M.

  8. That is outrageously fabulous! I just threw a feed sack away this morning! I'll have to save the next one. I can't wait to try this!!!

    xo Laurie

  9. Well Joy! I haven't met you and I am so glad that I am!!
    That did it for me: I am following you now girl!
    Can't wait to see what else you make/create/do/sell!!

    Stop on over and visit me at Na-Da Farm (we just got the feed sacks yesterday so this is great!)

  10. it was so much fun to meet you at the antique fair in pullman! i'm so looking forward to seeing you and your fantastic booth at farm chicks!

  11. Hi Joy!

    Hope Pullman was fun. Could you mention that I will be doing a pay-it-forward giveaway the first of next week?


    Betty :)

  12. I love love love this project and told my parents to save theirs so I could try it out. Then, I wondered "where was that blog and how did I get back to it?" But luckily I stumbled across it again, or I would have been doing a trial and error bag! Thanks for sharing and I'm a follower now!

  13. Here you are ma'am--a link to my blog where I've posted pictures of my feed sack tote--it was fun to make!