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Make a Journal Bag

December 16, 2008

 

JournalBag

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.)

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  1. Reply

    Roz, I made one too but not as elegantly as you. Yours is beautiful. IF you don’t mind, I’ll link to your post when I post mine.

    I did use a zipper but I folded the upper edge down so the zipper is at the top of the front side instead of at the top edge. I can never get the zip to look good at the top edge. I also used a 22″ invisible zip for the 12 ” opening. I centered it and after opening it a bit, I sewed right over the tracks on both sides when I sewed the sides. Works out much better and is a smooth, flat finish.

  2. Oh, I SO want to make this as a group…can we, can we, can we!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Really, I made one out of really lovely fabric with large flowers (if you’re interested it is on my blog…surprise, under journal bag)…but I like this idea very much!

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2008
    Reply

    Lindsay, thank you for your kind comment. I don’t mind if you link to my post when you post your journal. Would you please let me know so I can visit and see it?

    Did you use the same pattern? You comment about how you sewed the zipper leads me to believe you are much more comfortable with sewing than I am! I need you to make a Youtube video!

    I will look forward to seeing your journal bag. Thanks for writing!
    Roz

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2008
    Reply

    Look Ricë, Evil Roz has to come out and play a little, once in awhile. Hey, I don’t even know what the temperature is today, but the walk is OFF. A client called and told me to forget it. Not only is it cold but it was snowing. I think he said it was around zero. If the wind isn’t blowing and I can get enough layers on it can still be comfortable, but sigh, not today. All I know is that it is so cold outside that even the special thermal window shades I hung are letting in chilly air. Happily it was a bread baking day!
    Roz

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2008
    Reply

    Lynn, by “make this as a group” I am assuming you mean at one of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective meetings. Good luck with that! I don’t think there are enough folks there that sew, let alone want a journal bag. We’re just weird.

    Write to the group list and see if you can get the fabric fraction interested!

    As for needing and wanting a bag, which I think most folks in the collective probably don’t, I could have lived happily with the bag Jennie made me in 1998 but I made the one shown in this post in 2007 because I wanted to advertise my work while standing at a group show opening. I wanted people to associate me with my images on the walls. Large illustrated name tags (which I also do) are not enough for me.

    (If that’s not Evil Roz it’s at least Obnoxious Roz isn’t it Ricë?)

    Roz

    • karen
    • December 16, 2008
    Reply

    I think everyone wants a journal bag Roz, based on the number of responses to this post. I know I DO! So, journal collective folks, you can come here to my place for an arty party and sew a bag. Bring your ideas, supplies and yr sewing machine. I’ve got a color printer and lots of extension cords! And if it snows or gets really cold you can sleep over and Steve will make waffles with whipped cream and maple syrup in the morning.

    • Roz
    • December 16, 2008
    Reply

    Be careful what you wish for Karen, you’ll have a thousand people over there making journal bags and one person drawing Stella and eating waffles.

    Roz

  3. Sounds like a plan Karen!
    -Lynn

    • Rachel
    • December 19, 2008
    Reply

    COUNT ME IN FOR THE PARTY! This bag is WONDERFUL.

  4. Reply

    http://straightlinesout.blogspot.com/2008/12/one-more-bag.html

    Hum, Roz I’m afraid the You Tube will have to wait till my tech skills improve. But really it’s pretty easy and if you can do this level of lovely sewing, you won’t have a problem. Here is the link to my post with your post linked within. Happy Winter!

    • Roz
    • December 19, 2008
    Reply

    Linsay, your bag is way cool. Very sophisticated. It has one of those heavy duty straps on it that is like the one Jennie put on the bag she made years ago for me. They are great. (Though seeing as how you’re good with the invisible zippers and such you may have just had the hardware and made the strap too!)

    I have a bunch of upholstery fabric, interior designer type fabrics that I got at S R Harris Fabrics years ago that I had hoped to turn into bags. Sadly I didn’t focus! But I love the way those fabrics will hold up to wear. Possibilities!

    Thanks for the image link because it makes sense to me now.
    Roz

  5. Reply

    Glad it helped Roz. You can use regular centered zpper applications too. The hardware is really what makes it field worthy too.

    I’ve made cool shopping bags out of upholstry fabric scraps too.

    • Roz
    • December 20, 2008
    Reply

    That’s what I need, a shopping bag, to take to the grocery store.

    Maybe I’ll make one out of all that excess material I have!

    Thanks for the suggestion!

    Roz

    • s
    • February 6, 2010
    Reply

    augh! I DO NOT NEED ANY MORE BAGS (I make one every time I find a cool fabric combination) and now I really want to make one with a journal page on it.
    darn!

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