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Saturday, 27 June 2015

Repurposing and Upcycling... Bag ReNew & ReDo

Recycling project by eSheep Designs
The "before" version: a $2 Dollarama purse...
Almost one year ago to the day, I had a quadding accident that ended with me and machine landing in a culvert. With the help of that "super" strength that arises in such situations, I pushed it off me as soon as I felt water flooding into my helmet under my visor. I knew full well that people have died being pinned under those things and I wasn't about to add drowning to the equation. (The term "quadding" is quintessentially Canadian; I'm referring to ATV-ing or four-wheeling.) One of the storage compartments on the quad was unfortunately under (rushing) water for over ten minutes... my cell phone was in that compartment, inside the little zippered pouch/purse thing that you see here.

This happened in the mountains, so the water that I landed in was actually very clean (not that it changed the outcome for my poor phone). Still, when I got home, I tossed the purse into the washing machine along with the rest of my clothes. It came out a bit worse for wear, with "fuzzies" around the edges. In the picture here you can see clearly how it's almost ragged across the top.

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Even though this purse is kept out at our vacation home strictly for functional and non-fashionable purposes — such as quadding — I took a look at it a couple of months ago and thought, why don't I breathe some new life into it?

And here is the result of my "renew and redo" effort...

Upcycling project by eSheep Designs
My latest "upcycling" project...

My plan was simple: strip the old purse of its hardware and redo it in waxcloth. (Those of you who are regulars here must be getting tired of seeing this particular piece of waxcloth being featured in yet another project! What can I say, I had a scrap just the right size and I don't like to waste. And fret not — I bought four metres of this so there is plenty more of it to use up in future projects... LOL!) It had a couple of great zippers on it and the adjustable strap was still in fine condition. Once I mowed through the bag with my seam ripper, I found that the pocket linings were also perfectly reusable.

Upcycling project by eSheep Designs
Taking everything apart and re-using and "re-doing"...

As you can see, I disassembled it and then measured the basic pieces, reproducing them in the waxcloth. The original bag's body had a separate front and back panel, but I took the easy way out and cut one long piece, since the pattern on the waxcloth isn't directional.

You may be surprised by how easy it is to reproduce something when you have the opportunity to take it apart yourself. (I actually did this with a pair of old shorts a couple of summers ago... check out Nekane's post here for an excellent "how to" guide.) If you've never done that before, I suggest you try it. Head out to your nearest thrift shop or garage sale, pick up an old purse for next to nothing and then take it apart. For example, before I started, I wondered how easy the "covered" zippered front pocket would be to do; the whole process turned out to be a no-brainer once I had the pieces in my hand.

Upcycling project by eSheep Designs
Elements turn out to be not so hard when you have the chance to examine them in their "undone" state...

The top recessed zipper? I actually haven't done anything like this since my first bag project, but given pieces to refer to, it was totally intuitive.

Upcycling project by eSheep Designs
Recessed zipper? Easy-peasy!

Overall, this project took a lot less time than I expected (half a day of me working in slo-mo and being distracted by all sorts of things). And in the end, I was able to reuse most of the pieces again. I also intend to keep some of the original external vinyl; once it's trimmed of the fuzzy areas around the edges, it could be put to some other sort of repurposing.

Upcycling project by eSheep Designs
All pimped out and ready to go! (And no, that's not an attempted fussy cut, just a stroke of luck!)

So am I thinking with this remade purse that the next time I throw myself into a water trap that I won't sacrifice my cell phone? (Well, I won't, since I've learned my lesson and my cell phone now travels in a completely waterproof triple zip-lock poly bag whenever I go "adventuring".) But... I do think that the properties of waxcloth made this the perfect solution for my "ReNew and ReDo" project.

What do you think? Does it inspire you in any way?


  1. That is really cute! I am impressed--the bag turned out really well, and I especially like the front pocket. Maybe you could do a tutorial on such a feature (yes, that's a hint!--how's that for inspiration??!!). I've tried looking for tutorials on pockets like that, but I haven't found anything yet.

    I had a similar sewing success this week, kind of doing what you did, except I couldn't de-construct the prototype! It was a waistband for a maxi skirt my daughter had, and I could not for the life of me find a tutorial on one like it anywhere...so I traced it and looked it over and constructed it the way I thought it should go--and it worked!! So yay for re-purposing successes.

    But I think the best part of the post that was really underplayed was that you made it out from under your ATV. I'm glad that you lived to tell the tale!! I'd love to see photos of those mountains of yours....we have some hilly regions here and big sand dunes, but no mountains to speak of. Seems to me they'd make a nice backdrop for a bag photo somewhere. :)


  2. Oh my Rochelle that must have been a scary ordeal for you, yikes!!!
    But on a happier note your re-do bag is wonderful and so much prettier than the old one.

    I knew a group of ladies once that would look at craft shows for simple items they liked. One would buy the item and then they would take it apart and get together so they could make a ton of them for gifts to give at Christmas time. It was fun to see them all in action sewing away, lol!


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