Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chair Back Storage Bags for Schoolchildren out of Jeans

                                                Storage bags made from backs of jeans

Storage bags made from the fronts of jeans

Some schoolchildren have tables and chairs rather than desks, so storage for school supplies needs to be provided. This is true in my son-in-law's first grade class this year. This solution uses upcycled jeans. I made 25 chair back bags and used 12 1/2 pairs of jeans plus 5 yards of denim fabric. The chairs were 17" wide across the back. Each bag took approximately 1 hour to make. Here is how I did it.

I shopped at thrift stores where the jeans were $5 or less, so each bag cost no more than $3 in materials. I looked especially for jeans with cute names on their labels. Just about any size jeans can be made to work, even children's jeans. Extremely large jeans would probably not work as well. I used the front and back pockets of each jean. For the bags made out of the backs of jeans, I used the material from the legs for the rest of the design. It used all of the material. So for the bags made out of the fronts of jeans, I used the purchased denim yardage for the rest of the design.

I also purchased 8 different colored bandanas for $.99 each. They were cut into four pieces with pinking shears. I cut off half of the plain border around the outside so that the bandana design would show above the pockets. These were ironed into triangles with 4 points showing and stitched to the pocket flap so that the pocket can still be used.

I used Schmetz Universal needles and went through about 10 of them on this project.

Most measurements depend on the size of the jeans being worked with. The part that fits over the back of the chair needs to be 18" wide by 20" long for a 17" chair and 1/2" seams. The pencil pocket just above the jeans back or front needs to be 13" wide by 4" long. A narrow slot about 1 1/2 " in from the edge of the pencil pocket is sewn in. I used a commercial sample as a guide.

First I cut out the jeans back and front. I cut straight across about 1" below the tip of the back pocket. This usually resulted in a depth of 10-12". I cut the front the same amount. I separated the back from the front. I cut out the heavy seam between and back and front of jeans. Anything to save having to sew over the heavy seams.

Next I trimmed back the width  on each side of the pockets, usually to parallel with the sides of the pockets. The width of the back needs to match the 18" of the piece going over the back of the chair. Since I had many different sizes of jeans, most with a waistband smaller than 18", I had to make up the difference with the backing piece. The top width of the backing piece is 18" plus 18-waist size plus 1". For example, if the waistband were 15", the top width of the backing piece would be 18 + 3 + 1=22". The 3 is 18" minus 15". The bottom of the backing piece would be the bottom width of the jeans front or back. The depth of the backing piece would be the jeans piece plus 1/2". Here is what it looked like before being sewn together.

To make the 18x20" piece from the legs of the jeans, I cut the legs apart at the non-topstitched seam. I usually had to piece the legs to get that size, especially with the skinny jeans. This took a lot of extra time. If I had it to do over, I think I would use the denim yardage instead. So much easier. I used the bottoms of the legs to make the tops of the pencil pockets whenever I could.

All seam edges were left raw. Sew the 18x20 inch piece to the backing of the jeans pockets. Sew the pencil pocket about 1 1/2" above the jeans pockets. With right sides together sew the sides of the 18x20" piece. I lapped the end of the piece about 1 1/2" over the jeans waistband. Turn the chair back part right side out. Sew down the overlapping flaps.

I ran the jeans through the washer and dryer. Then I clipped the ravellings from the seams. The resulting soft fuzzy edges should wear well. Voila, it's done!

Children's jeans can be used, as shown in the picture of the jeans backs, third from the left. I removed the zipper and used both the back and front pockets to get the width I needed.

I enjoyed working on this project and hope to hear soon how the kids like them.