My Hand Made Bag Bases Using Recycled Plastic Milk Bottles!!

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I have done alot of research on bag bases. Read almost everything on how people make their own. From cardboard, to wood to childrens hard back book covers, most of these have a separate fabric sleeve and have to be removed if you want to wash the fabric bag. I wanted mine to be part of the bag and able to put them through the washing machine without any worry of them distorting or melting away. You can buy the bag bases, I have never tried them, I am trying to stick to my ‘recycled’ ethos, and that includes not spending money when I don’t have to!!!
So this is my version of a stable, washable bag base for my hand made fabric bags.

Materials:
2 plastic milk bottles I find the big 6 pint ones give you more flattish plastic
1 piece of polyester wadding
sewing machine
needle and thread
Fabric to cover
How to do it:

My bag bases ended up being around 8″ x 4″

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So I cut the top off the milk bottles, with a craft knife, and the base. Cut down the seam and flattened it out. Because the bottles are shaped while being heated you will not be able to get them completely flat, But the next step will help a little.
Cut out the shape and size you will need x 2, and round off the corners.

At this stage check that the base will fit snugly in the bottom of your bag, once you are happy with the size go to the next step.

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Cut a piece of the fabric that you want to cover the base with, approx 1″ larger all round

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Place the two pieces of plastic together and with your sewing machine stitch 3 lines across the longest part. Your machine should take it OK if you go slowly, and gently push the plastic along, as the feed dogs on your machine may slip.

(Yes you can put thin soft plastic, like this, through your machine, just don’t try to push it through too much as you may break your needle. I have used drink cans,  on my machine and lots of other wierd and wonderful things!!!!)

Next, place the wadding on top of the stitched plastic base and run through the sewing machine once more stitching once down the centre. This will stop the wadding from moving in the base of your bag.

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As you can see you don’t have to be that neat, no one will see it once the bag is finished.

The next step is to cover the plastic base. Take the piece of fabric you have for the base and tack, or baste all round the edge.

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Place the plastic base, wadding side down, onto the fabric

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Pull your stitches, as though you are making a yoyo. and tie a knot so that the fabric is tight around the base.

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You can now slip stitch the base into place at the bottom of the lining of your bag.

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This is how the bottom will look when you are finished. It is sturdy and washable and won’t distort, and didn’t cost anything. It is soft enough not to leave a bruise on your hips!!!! but stable enough to give a nice flat bottom to the bag when it is full of all your bits and pieces.

SAM_2120If you have any questions please let me know and I will try to answer them asap.

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Square Newspaper Weave Basket

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I wanted some baskets for my fabric stash. When it comes to fabric I am a hoarder and have loads of tiny pieces that I use for applique. So here is how I made them, please read all the instructions before starting this project:

Newspaper Sticks

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You will need lots of newspaper sticks. There are quite a few websites showing how to make these, my particular favourite is this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXHKvQbMJO0
I do sell them in my Etsy shop but postage is quite expensive.

It does take a while to master this, don’t give up, after all you will only be wasting old newspapers whilst you practice. In the video she uses white glue (PVA glue), I use a glue stick which works just the same but dries quicker. And I cut my newspaper with scissors.

A Mould
Measure the size of basket you want to weave and make a mock up, or mould, of one out of cardboard. Make the mould approx 1″ smaller than the size you want your finished basket to be. You will use this to weave round, it will help you to keep the size and shape of your basket as you will see further on in this tutorial.

Start Making Your Basket
Using your mould as a template draw round the bottom onto another piece of cardboard. ( I have used a thick piece of cardboard from a flat pack furniture delivery box, you could glue together several pieces of thin cardboard to make it thicker).

Cut it out.
This piece will be the beginning of your basket.

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Now to start making your basket. (Mine is quite large 15″ x 15″ x 12″ deep but you can use this tutorial for any size you want).

Draw a line on all four sides of the piece of cardboard you have just cut out for the bottom of your basket, approx 1/2″ in from the edge. Measure and mark approx 1″ apart along each edge making sure to mark at each corner. Don’t be too worried about this measurement as long as they are evenly distributed along each edge.

Next, using a screwdriver or something similar, push through each mark you have made making a hole large enough to take a newspaper stick. I started with an awl and then pushed a biro through each hole to enlarge it.

Take a newspaper stick, fold it in half and poke one end through one of the holes, with the other end of the newspaper stick poke it through the next hole. Pull it through tight so the loop lies flat, as in the picture below. Keep adding sticks until each hole has been filled.

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Turn the cardboard bottom over and these will be the sticks that you will be weaving on, the uprights.

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For my basket I use the rope weave, which uses two newspaper sticks at a time. this video shows you how to make a different bottom, but also shows, very simply, how to do the rope weave.

Weave one row all around the outside of the bottom piece of cardboard. Making sure you mould the weaving newspaper sticks round each corner.

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This is how it should look when you have finished the first row of weaving, turn the whole piece over, as in the picture below

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and carry on weaving making the next row lay on top of the last one while at the same time lifting each upright newspaper stick to make it stand upright. As shown below.:

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When you come to the end of the second row take your mould and place it inside of the upright newspaper sticks.

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Make sure all of your uprights are on the outside of your mould. I like to put something heavy inside the mould so that it doesn’t move around whilst I am weaving. I have used a couple of full paint tins but you could use anything like tins from the food cupboard, stones or bricks from the garden etc.

Now you can carry on weaving, making your weaving as close as possible to your mould. But not too tight that you can’t remove your mould at the end.

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If you find your uprights are too short for the height of your basket, as I have here, you need to make them longer. To do this you need to add more newspaper sticks. Here I have some made from the yellow pages, they are shorter than the newspaper sticks but long enough to reach the top of my measured basket.

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To make the uprights longer I insert more paper sticks, with the use of a knitting needle.

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Poke in the knitting needle next to one upright and slightly stretch the weaving and just push in another stick (you could add a small amount of white glue (PVA) if you wish). You will need to add new sticks all the way round. Be careful not to pull out these extra sticks as you are weaving.

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Carry on weaving incorporating these new sticks as shown.

When you have reached the height that you want your basket to be you need to close your weaving.

Take each end of your two weaving sticks and using a knitting needle or similar, prize open about three rows down and push down one end, pulling it right through, do the same with the other end.

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So they look like this. Cut off the excess.

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You have now finished weaving your basket. To complete, cut off all the uprights flush to the edge of the basket. Like so:

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In the next tutorial I will show you how I finish and paint my newspaper weave baskets.

Folded Book Birdhouse 3

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I wanted to make some small birdhouses to hang on the wall, using the same pattern as the other birdhouses I made. This is what I came up with. So pretty, so quick and easy, and saving another book from the bin or incinerator.

What you need:

Paperback book (my book was 7” tall by approx 4 ½” wide) an average size paperback.
Cardboard; (I use boxes that come with cat food pouches, it is nice and strong)
Craft knife
Glue stick
Double sided sticky tape (1″ wide, not the thin one used for card making)
Ribbon or string to hang the birdhouse
Any decoration you want, lace, beads, ribbon etc.

How To:
Cut four pieces of cardboard 4 ½” x 3 ½”. You will be making four little birdhouses.

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Take the cover off the book.

SAM_1811For these little birdhouses you only need 51 pages. So if the number at the bottom of the page starts at 1 you need to find page number 102. Carefully tear this block of pages away from the rest of the book. Do the same again with another 51 pages. SAM_1812With the 51 pages find the centre and draw a line across. This will be your cutting line.
With your craft knife carefully cut the book in half along this line.
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Measure 2 ¼” from the spine and draw a line down the book.

SAM_1816Cut down this line all through the pages to give yourself a nice neat tiny little book. Do this with the other 3. You now have 4 tiny little books still connected to the spine. You will also be left with all of these lovely pieces of pages, all exactly the same size and ready for my next tutorial. I don’t waste anything if I can help it!

SAM_1817Turn your little books so that the spine is on your left and the blank border of the page is at the bottom. This is important; You want the blank border to be at the bottom of the birdhouses once they are folded.

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I got carried away making mine and forgot to do this next step. But for each little book take a strip of double sided sticky tape and fold over the length of the book, pressing down to make sure it sticks all the way down the spine. Do not take the backing of the tape off yet.

I found that because these books were so small, when you began folding, the pages started to come away from the spine, the double sided tape should stop this from happening.

SAM_1824Fold all four little books using my instructions for Birdhouse 1. But fold right to the spine.

SAM_1821The last page should be folded like the first, so when you have finished folding the little book you have a square at the back.

SAM_1822Unfold the first and last page and glue the folds back down again.

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Do this with all four little houses.

SAM_1826You could make all four into individual little wall hangings. (I just used one as I wanted to make a long wall hanging with the other three. I will show you how at the end of this tutorial).
Take off the backing on the double sided tape that you placed down the spine of the book and attach a piece of ribbon or string, this will be the hanger.

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Cover the back of the house with glue or glue stick and press down onto one of the pieces of cardboard. Press down all the way to the spine of the book, on either side, to make sure it is properly secured.

SAM_1831Cut away the excess cardboard, being careful not to cut your hanger. Finished!

SAM_1832These look sweet on their own, but I love to decorate!

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I tied a bow of matching ribbon around the top. Also a piece of ribbon around the bottom attaching it to the back, with a piece of double sided sticky tape, onto the cardboard. I threaded some beads onto some cotton along with a charm and attached them to the back also. To finish I had some little silver fabric butterflies that I glued on.

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With the other 3 little birdhouses I made a long wall hanging.

How to:

Back the houses, as we did the first one, with the cardboard, remembering to take the backing off the double sided tape first.

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Place a piece of double sided tape down the length of the centre of each house. Remove the backing.

Lay a piece of ribbon down and place your houses evenly along the length of the ribbon. (I used a 1” wide ribbon to keep the hanging stable) I spaced the little houses approx 2” apart. Leaving a nice long piece of ribbon at the top for hanging.

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I had a keyring that I used for the top:

Or you could cut the top from the opening of a plastic milk bottle, making a little ring to wrap the ribbon around. (More recycling!)

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Press down on each house once you have them placed evenly along the ribbon, making sure that the double sided tape is sticking to the ribbon.

Now you can decorate each little house. I wrapped ribbon and lace around the bottom of each house and secured it at the back with double sided tape. (It is a bit awkward with the houses being attached to the long ribbon, but I found sticking the ends of the decorations over the top made it more secure).

Then I just pushed a little flower into the folds on the roof of each house, and tiny silver flowers on the ribbon at the top of each house were attached using a glue stick.

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SAM_1841Using some of the pieces of pages that were cut off at the beginning, I used my glue stick to cover the backs of each birdhouse to finish them off. Or you could glue a pretty piece of cardstock or wrapping paper to the back of each one. This will also help to make everything secure and tidy and ready for hanging.

SAM_1842The rest of these pieces will be used in my next tutorial!

Good luck and please comment or send pictures if you used my tutorial to rescue a book!