Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jack-o-Lantern Trick or Treat Bag from Oilcloth

Last year, we weren't expecting our little owl/cat to go house to house, so he ended up taking a plastic bag from the grocery - sad. So this year, I got started a little early with some scrap oilcloth and black scraps to make a small bag for carrying candy. Since it is only once a year and I wanted to be able to wipe it out if it gets sticky, I didn't line it. Here's how I did it -

For a toddler-sized bag, measure a circle with a dinner plate, then move the plate so you have a flat area for the bottom of the bag (you'll see). Make the flat area 5" across. For older kids you may want to experiment with a bigger bag - in that case I'd probably use oilcloth for the handles too, since it will weigh more when full. This small bag holds a surprisingly large amount of candy.

You need two semi-circles, a 5" square for the bottom, and two 5" by about 12" panels for the sides. You'll need to measure them against your actual plate, you want them to leave about a 5" opening and have some fold-over for strength, since you'll be sewing the handles in to them.

You'll also need to cut out the jack-o-lantern face from some scraps, and cut two handles - mine were about 4" by about 12".

Applique the face onto both sides of the bag, using a zig-zag stitch and taking enough time so that the fabric doesn't stretch against the oilcloth, which is fairly inflexible. If you aren't using oilcloth, just applique as you usually would.

Sew the bottom square wrong-sides together to both bottoms of the circles (see below). On these seams, stop about 1/4 " from the edge. Sewing it wrong-sides together will make it be able to stand on its own, whether or not filled with candy.

Next, sew the two side pieces - again, wrong-sides together - to the bottom piece. Stop about 1/4 " from the edge again. You'll have a funny-looking cross as below. Hold the sides loosely against the faces, and decide how much you need to turn over at the top of the sides. Since oilcloth won't fray or ravel, I just turned over once so there would be less bulk. I turned down my sides about 1 1/2 ", finger-pressed and straight-stitched them.

Now, the (slightly) tricky part. Sew UP the circle side seam from the bottom along the edge. Since oilcloth is a bit hard to pin, I just free-handed it, making sure not to get any folds in the seams. When you are done, you're bag should look almost done - like this.

Next, the handles. I used some scraps, a black and white print lined with plain black. Pin them right-sides together, and sew down the long sides, leaving both ends open for turning.

Now turn and press them (the top is right side out, the bottom one is waiting to be turned right-side out)

Next, I sewed the handle center together, to make it more comfortable to carry. Fold the handle down the center longways, with the "good" side out. Pin an equal amount on both side of the center of the handle from both ends - I sewed about 5 ", so about 2 1/2 " on either side. The handle fabric will then make a kind of bow-tie shape, as below, with the center ready for little hands to grasp. Pin and press the ends over twice. Do the same on both handles.

Now, to attach them. You can either do this to the sides before you sew them to the faces, or you can do it at this point - I tried both and think this is easier and leaves less room for error. Pin to the sides as you want the handles to be placed, and gently sew through all the layers. Since I used a busy print I wasn't too worried about sewing perfectly, just attaching strongly, in case of candy bounty.

Ta-dah! Ready for candy! My kids have been practicing trick or treating all week. When they visit me in the home office they usually get post-it notes and pens - so I'm sure Halloween evening when they get real actual candy will be an astonishing treat.

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  1. very cute! You could use the same basic technique for other cute bags, Easter-egg shaped perhaps?

  2. Yes, that would work well, the trick would be to find oilcloth that looked easter-y. Maybe a cute decorator fabric or duck cloth with stencils on it.


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