Make a Journal BagDecember 16, 2008
Right: A journal bag I made by printing a sketch from my journal onto cotton. The bag is approximately 8.5 wide x 9.5 h x 1.5 deep (inches). The image of the bird and the green strip on the left of the bag form a pocket that opens at the top of the Wood duck's head (Cotton and linen, with antique pearl button and seed beads.) Click on the image to see an enlargement.
I like to sew things which incorporate sketches from my journal pages. I have visions and plans of doing large quilts (lots of sketches, no full-sized product yet). While I work up to that I make other things like the journal bag pictured at the start of this post.
To make this journal bag I scanned a Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and gouache sketch, made during a sketching demo at the Bell Museum of Natural History. I was talking about nature sketching and they brought out some small taxidermy specimens to have on the table next to me so I could sketch.
Next I printed the scan onto prepared cotton using an Epson R800 inkjet printer. You can prepare the cotton yourself, but I used prepared 8.5 x 11 inch sheets from Jacquard (this product is available all over the place I’m sure, but of course I found mine at Wet Paint, where they also have organza and silk!).
If you prepare the cotton yourself you’ll be ironing it onto freezer paper so that the cotton is stiff when it goes through the printer. Jacquard does that for you and neatly trims the edges. They probably also put something on the fabric to better accept the ink. I know there are products that you can buy to wash your fabric with to increase ink acceptance, but I haven’t used any of them, so you’re on your own there. (Let me know if you have some good leads!)
Since the sheets of fabric were only 8.5 x 11 inches and I needed greater width (even when I sized my image and printed in landscape format; you have to allow for hem width) I pieced the printed piece with the bird portrait together with a solid cotton fabric and sewed them together to make the pocket fabric.
I found a pattern from “The Green Pepper, Inc” that had a simple bag.
If you do a lot of sewing you can do a simple lining and inside-out type of bag (something you just flip inside out; you'll want to make the bottom corners of your bag "square" by sewing across the corner—hey if you don't understand what I'm talking about it's because I don't speak "sewing" and just knew to do this from a tote bag I had. I sewed bag and lining corners before all the turning inside out so the sewing isn't showing inside the bag; get the pattern if this confuses you).
My bag ended up being this simple construction because I didn’t like the zipper instructions. If you don’t sew much and would like to try the same pattern I branched off from look for “Bag-ettes,” number F856. (I gave up looking for the type of simple pattern I wanted after making this bag and realized that what I really need to do is sew a lot more so I can make my own patterns.)
I used a linen fabric for the body of the bag (visible above the image-covered pocket, and in the strap). The interior was lined with a printed cotton that had bird footprints on it. How fun is that?
Using a bit of covered elastic and an antique mother of pearl button, I made a loop and button closure at the top of the bag. It's decorated with some seed beads.
O.K., you ask, why make a journal bag in the first place? Well often I’m out and about with a very small purse or fanny pack. The journal I am using at any given time might not fit in the bag I'm carrying. If I still want to take my journal I need some easy way to carry it. Years ago I carried 8 x 10 inch, rather thick-spined books (that were quite heavy). I always used the same size book. My friend Jennie, who is amazing with things sewn, made a polar fleece-lined journal bag with ripstop nylon outside. I still use that bag (which is pretty indestructible), but sometimes I need a smaller bag, and so it goes.
Printing and sewing took me less than 2 hours and I’m not someone who sews much at all (maybe 2 times a year I make a very odd plush toy). The bulk of my time was spent looking at the zipper instructions and deciding NOT to use a zipper.
Why not do something fun with your journal art today? Give your journal a nice traveling home. This is a great activity on days like yesterday when it was 3 below zero! (I put that in just for my friends in the southern U.S.)