Sunday, November 6, 2011

IKEA Ottoman Cover Turned Messenger Bag

A bit of a departure from the usual.
After some craziness with the collar, facing, and shoulders of my pin-up-inspired dress, I needed to take a break from making things that are supposed to fit 3D curves (although given the size of my bust area, it's more like 2.6D curves...which, as a science person, I know makes no sense). Anyway, I told myself I would make something nice and simple, straight lines and rectangles only. Like a pillow. Or something. I decided that I needed to make a messenger bag big enough to fit my laptop; my current laptop bag is the same grodilated free one which I got when I first started teaching. The straps are about to die, and it's big enough to fit a 17" monster as well as the monster's accessories. My laptop is a nice little compact 14" Macbook, so it was swimming in that bag. Not to mention embarrassed by its unstylishness. Because, you know, Apple products are all about the pretty.

I decided that this project was perfect for some stash-busting, because when am I going to use canvas-type material in garment making? I had an old IKEA ottoman cover (possibly from the EKTORP BROMMA?) that I picked up for $5 from the As Is section at last two years ago. Can I just say that I love IKEA textiles? They always have the best designs, and every time I go to IKEA I want to take home all the fabric, bedding, and pillows. I cut out all the fabric I could salvage, leaving the zipper and velcro and serged seams:
The fabric harvest.

The remains.

For the lining, I used a super-cute giraffe print quilting cotton from Sew Modern, a little fabric store near where I live. They have the cutest prints and I'm always tempted to do what the Selfish Seamstress says not to do and make dresses out of quilting fabric. Unfortunately, when I got home, I realized that the green of the giraffes didn't quite go with the green of the leaves of the ottoman cover. Urgh.

On Thursday afternoon, when I had secured my fabrics, as well as magnetic snaps, square rings, and brown webbing, it was still going to be something nice and simple, much like LiEr of ikatbag's school satchels. You know, just a shell and some lining and webbing and done! This was supposed to be an easy project, after all. But noooo, I had to complicate it by putting pockets all over, making a fabric strap, and making webbing straps to close it. And somehow, in the process, neglecting to think about stiffening it up with fusible interfacing or fleece.

Fast-forward through lots of seam-ripping, turning an incredibly stiff five-foot long canvas tube, top-stitching issues, and 16 episodes of Nickolodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender: it's Saturday night and I have an incredibly floppy, but mostly functional, new messenger bag big enough for my laptop. Why is it that I can never leave well-enough alone and just go the simple route?

Stuffed with oven mitts to plump it up.

Magnetic snaps to close, and pockets on the front under the flap!

Another pocket, zippered, with more non-matching green fabric, for feminine unmentionables.

The back has another, giant pocket, which closes with a giant button.

Adjustable strap!

The underside of the magnetic clasps. I figured I don't need to worry about the clasp ripping through the webbing.
Fabric: IKEA ottoman cover, 100% cotton, canvas-type material ($5), giraffe print cotton lining ($6)
Notions: ~1 yard brown cotton webbing ($2), magnetic snaps ($1.25), square rings ($7), zipper (stash)
Hours: Errr, 15 twenty-minute episodes and one hour-long special of Avatar plus extra time here and there, about eight hours. Gaaah. Granted, at least an hour of it was turning that loooong strap, and another hour of seam-ripping because I forgot to put on the pockets and other ridiculousness.
Techniques used: Using pliers to put on magnetic snaps? An inner zippered pocket, and an adjustable strap.
Will you make this again? Yes, one day when I've forgotten everything I learned while making this one. Definitely interfaced, though, and with a plain fabric.
Total cost: $22...not bad, I guess.
Final thoughts: As with most projects, I realized that it's simultaneously harder and easier than I thought to make ______. The sewing wasn't difficult, but the planning of steps (sew the pockets on first before attaching the gusset! Oh and sew the buttonhole and button before attaching the pocket!) was the tricky part on this bag. Also, every time I make a bag/purse I realize belatedly that I should have interfaced if I don't want a floppy mess.

Linked here and here.

Now that I've had a foray into bag-making (and I totally want to make another one, a better one), I'm ready to return to my dress. I'm also getting mentally ahead of myself and getting excited about using this awesome sheet I found last week from Goodwill:

"You know, some people have to walk next to you."

My husband thinks I'm crazy for wanting to make a dress out of Superman sheets, but I say that it'll be cool and quirky. Like if Ms. Frizzle taught at Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. And yes, I know I'm mixing different comic universes. But wouldn't this be so cool to wear to Comic-Con?


  1. what a cute bag. when i read about your sewing process, i recognize a lot. forgetting interfacing, a lot of seam-ripping,... :D but the result looks great so it was worth it

  2. I love this bag! I can't wait to see it in person! Also, I love the privacy compartment for personal items;) You are too cute!

  3. It turned out great, I love the idea of making a bag from the as-is slipcovers! I always wade through that bin at IKEA and wish I owned the EKLOOUF or whatever that the cute covers go on, but bag making is clearly the answer! I came up with a messenger bag pattern on my own last year, and I agree that planning the order of events is the hardest part of the process. I need to make a couple more as gifts this year, so hopefully I can put up a tutorial if for no other reason than to keep it straight for myself!

  4. @Clio Thanks for your kind comment! I definitely use my seam ripper way too much, but yes, the results are worth it!
    @Shayna You'll see it soon! You can even look into the privacy pocket if you wish ;)
    @aleahDoesn't it seem like IKEA names are just "Oh, my cat just walked across the keyboard." But yes, I love that their home-dec weight fabric is perfect for making bags.

    Half the time I feel like a tutorial is most helpful for the myself so that I can solidify in my head what to do next time. I'd love to see what you come up with!


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