Upcycling:”Origami Bento Bag”

So this just happened…I’d recently accumulated several orphaned pillowcases (orphaned as in single, having been separated from its original pillowcase, bedsheet and duvet cover set) from my local thrift shop, and had already used a couple as the basis of some “Kantha” scarves. (I’ve since realised that those creations could just as equally be used as table runners or wall hangings, and have as much visual impact as a scarf…but more about that later).

My latest find at the thrift store was an orphaned quilted pillowcase that reminded me of Japanese/Indian textiles. Right up my street. 

I’d been wanting to make one of those roomy, triangular Origami-style carry-alls I’d seen on the internet. They’re called “Origami Bento Bags”. This seemed the perfect opportunity to use up some pillowcases.

This is the site I went to for the instructions: http://lolanovablog.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/origami-market-bag-tutorial.html?m=1

Now for the math…

The instructions call for a piece of fabric measuring 17 x 51 inches, the length being 3 times the width. I found that a standard pillowcase measures around 19 x 29 inches. 2 pillowcases, joined together lengthwise, would be 19 x 58 inches. 3 x 19 = 57 inches. Sweet! The extra inch in the fabrics would be used up anyway as the seam allowance when sewing the 2 pillowcases together.

The other beauty of using old pillowcases to make this Origami Bento Bag is that I get to choose whether I want the 2 pillowcases to be complementary, or contrasting in their designs and colours. Another big plus is that the backs of the pillowcases make natural linings for the inside of the bags. So, there’s no need to create a separate lining for the bag. These bags were originally used in Japan to carry everyday items like groceries and also food, so there’s no need to be precious about whether the seams show on the inside or not. If you really must have perfectly smooth seams on the inside, then just sew a French seam. I’ve left mine raw.

If you use pillowcases that have different backs and fronts, then the resulting bag will be even more colourful and attractive. And, if you Do sew a French seam for the inside seams, then technically you’d have a reversible bag.

The first photo below shows how the 2 pieces are arranged and pinned together. The other photos show the finished product.

I used a separate piece of fabric to create a tube, through which the sewn ends of the bag are passed through to create a simple handle.

Very happy with this one. I think I’ll test it out on my next grocery run. Might even use it as a library book. Or for general shopping use. It certainly is a BIG bag, you could use it easily as a baby’s nappy changing bag, and carry all of baby’s things in it – bottles, wipes, change of clothes, toys, books etc.

I love upcycling and recycling, and this project fits the bill perfectly. 

Going to make more bags like this and also more “Kantha” scarves/table runners/wall hangings, and put them up on my Etsy and eBay stores, to help my “Escape From Australia” fund 😄.

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