Some time ago I bought several yards of selvage denim from Cone Mills in the US. I passed some on to a friend and the rest have just been sitting in the basement waiting for me to do something about it. Well, I haven't found the courage to make more jeans, though I have done that in the past and I will do so again in the future, so today I spent some hours making one handsome laundry bag with the caring guidance and help from my girlfriend. Or actually it was more of a collaborative effort.
I decided to make this piece out of necessity. I needed something to stow my laundry away in, but I couldn't find anything I liked. But I remember seeing some laundry bags from the American army or rather the navy which were made of a thin denim - possibly chambray. So they were the inspiration for me on this piece, which is why I will possibly add some stencils, once I get around to buying some stencil ink. I already have some amazing Hanson brass stencils, that I would like to use.
For the bag we used some selvage denim (broken twill of approximately 14-15 oz) from Cone Mills, some vintage nylon fabric (I think the term is beaver nylon), a couple of solid brass grommets, some good rope and it was assembled on the Singer 222, that I received some time ago. The same thread was used throughout the project and it was a Saba 50 by Amann - unfortunately not the Rasant type of thread, which I have had troubles finding a good source for.
I did most of the sewing, which is why the stitching isn't entirely straight, though it is pretty good, if I may say so.
It was the first project I ever did on the 222, and I have to say, it has surpassed my expectations. It plows through whatever you throw at it, and it isn't even an industrial grade sewing machine, but I guess they just made some things better in the old days.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the process, but the light in the basement was poor, so I didn't bother taking that many. Furthermore I was too focused on keeping up with the pace of my girlfriend (who is a tailor's apprentice and has a degree in pattern making), that I found myself forgetting to document the process in pictures.
In short, the bag is made from selvage to selvage across the fabric. Then the grommets were set, but before doing so the leather reinforcements were put in. After that the drawstring hem was sewed, and the sides were connected. We intended to do a flat felled seam, but some miscalculations were made, so it was just a felled seam. Lastly the bottom piece was put in. I decided on the orange fabric because I felt it was a nice contrast to the denim, and orange colour had a navy-ish feel to it. Furthermore I'm sure it will last a bit longer, as it wears harder than the denim and it sheds water. I'm pretty sure that this bag will last a lifetime and improve with wear.
The rope was put in and the ends of the rope was secured with some melted beeswax. This is a very practical way of ensuring the rope doesn't unravel and furthermore it smells deliciously. What I hadn't anticipated was that the rope is already taken on some bleeding from the denim. I'm sure this will get beautiful in some time.
The design is basically too simple to be called design. It is very functional and it will carry a months worth of laundry and possibly more.
You can see the pics in a slightly better resolution on ATD's Flickr.
And lastly, I would like to thank my girlfriend for the help and support - I'm glad you decided to give my old sewing machine a go, even though you are used to industrial grade sewing machines, which are probably a lot better and easier to use. You did one hell of a job here and I will treasure this bag for a long time and honour it by throwing my dirty clothes in it.