Bathing your bags

I get asked a lot about how to go about keeping the Absolute Bobbins bags clean. It’s not like they are kept for best, or in a cupboard. These are bags that are intended to get a lot of hammer, be squished with banana and blueberry, and collect breakfast cereal in the pockets. They are not going to stay clean.

This applies to the baby-wearing bags, rather than messenger bags or handbags, which I would definitely just spot clean with a cloth.

As wrap cloth fibres vary, from one wrap to the next, and need different care, it’s obvious that the bags are going to need treating in a similar way.

So here’s a few tips on keep the bags as bag-like as possible for the long haul.

If the bag is made of non-woollen cloth you are ok to machine wash. But do so at low temp on a short cycle (maybe a 30 degree quick wash). Just be aware, the rings in the drum will make a noise akin to the soundtrack of a low budget horror film. You could choose to put the bag inside a pillowcase, but it isn’t essential.

It’s best to get to stains as quick as you can to stop them from setting in. So if it something that is likely to create a lasting mark (anything tomatoey for example) soak that area of the bag. Once washed, you may need to reshape the bag with your hands, before drying in a warm place like near a radiator or on the line.

Bags made from wool have had the cloth washed before being made, to ensure that it is to size before being cut out. I would be reluctant to advise machine washing wool bags. I would only advise spot cleaning with a cloth and a wool-specific liquid detergent.

The cloth is no longer intended to be used for baby wearing, but don’t scrub the cloth as it may shift threads or break them. Gently rub the marks with the liquid detergent on a soft cloth. Dry in a warm place or on the line.


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Transformers – hand bags in disguise!

I love getting my hands on a project with a few more twists and turns than usual. Don’t get me wrong, I love making bags with ‘virgin’ fabric – straight edges, no frays and one continuous piece.

But every so often I get given cloth already in the shape of another object, or offcuts from a freshly made item, and asked if there is anything that can be done.

And it usually means an amount of unpicking of hems, chopping and lining up to make an Absolute Bobbins bag from something else. But that is the fun bit. When you see something new materialise from another object.

So I am going to tackle a bag which will be made from the fabric from a carrier, which was made from a baby wrap. I love the fact that something so useful will be given a new life two times over.

I will add to this blog as I go along and post pics of the work in progress. If you have something like this that you would love to be transformed into an Absolute Bobbins bag, you know what to do!

The carrier before its transformation

**The carrier is here!**

I have spent an evening looking over and unpicking the seams and hems of the Kokadi Lara im Wunderland carrier I am going to be transforming into a bag. This is a beautiful wrap and much loved before being turned into a carrier. And it’s fab that it will have its life extended by becoming something new once again.

The carrier was wonderfully made and had really used the best of the design for the panels. That being said, once you start unpicking and salvaging the cloth for a new project, stitching holes and frays can limit what you have to work with. But after overlocking the cloth around the edges, and a wash and iron, the fibres in the cloth moved around enough to hide the holes from previous stitching.

The ties from the carrier are long enough to be re-utilised as well. One of the ties will become the strap for the baby-wearing bag, and the other will be cut up to make the sides of the bag, the zip panels and the pockets. The grey ties will be dyed black to match the black of the wrap and the hood panel, which is a little smaller, will become a pocket on the back.

**Dying to get to work**

After overlocking around the outside of each of the pieces cut from the carrier, we dyed the grey pieces black in the washing machine with Dylon. The straps and off cuts came out a lovely dark black colour (I know black is a dark colour, but let’s say, not wishy washy) which the customer was very happy with. The grey bits now match the black bits from the Lara wrap.

There was enough of a panel to make the front or back of the bag with the image of the tree and animals in the centre. There was also a smaller piece with some of the image in that it was decided would become the pocket. The customer chose to have the pocket from the Absolute Bobbins bag on the back of the bag as she wanted a full panel of the image on the front.

But with a bit of tweaking and stitching of off cuts, a new pocket panel was created with the vibrant purple of the wrap down each side, over a black panel. The customer still chose to have this pocket panel on the back to show off the beautiful purple tree fully on the front. Good choice.

The cloth is lovely to work with – it sews together nicely and lines up well. The unpicked hem lines are hidden by the restitching and the dyed grey cloth parts – now black – match the black of the original wrap cloth.

The lining of the bag matches the purple of the Lara wrap really well and compliments the overall look – it’s a kind of Cadbury purple.

Inside there is a clip to keep your keys safe and a strap handle attached to the bag with small, black rings. the bag is finished off with a purple zip to match the purple of the Lara.

I do love a job that isn’t completely snip and sew. I like having to be optimistic about a project, that it will work and become something. And if it doesn’t the first time, thinking your way around it. I like when customers put their faith in me, and I am able to create what I have imagined in my mind. You might not be able to pull it off, exactly, every time, but it feels great when you can!