Waxed Paper Bag

This was one of those projects where I ended up almost wishing I had just bought the inspiration piece...man was it a lot of work!  Fun though, and I am delighted with the results.

Some of the details

1.  Outer "fabric" is brown paper that I waxed myself.  I had a large sheet of brown wrapping paper.  I got out the tin of wax I have been carting around for about 20 years now for re-oiling my Driza-bone.  I guess I will miss the wax if I ever move back to a cold climate and dig out that coat.  I warmed the wax in a little electric chocolate fondue pot that I bought at Big W for $12 so that the kids could do batik waxing.  I spread out a large sheet of plastic, was very neat, got all my tools ready...and then tripped, knocking over the hot wax and spilling it everywhere, including over my feet.  Lucky the wax was not too hot.  I used a paint brush to brush the wax into the paper.  I then used a hair dryer to melt the wax a bit more to get an even distribution of the wax.  The hair dryer got tired of this and stopped working.  So then I got the iron and ironed the waxed paper between several sheets of butcher's paper to even out the wax distribution.  I then hung it on the line for several days (weeks actually) to dry out as I pondered my next move and drafted a pattern to fit the size of the paper.

2.  Inner fabric is heavyweight upholstery fabric.  I thought I needed something fairly hefty for support.  I bought a remnant of this grey fabric from Oddz and Endz in Noosa for $3.  I was most upset to find that this place has closed down.  It was always one of my highlights of my trips to the Sunshine Coast.

3.  Leather handles, attached by hand stitching. Even with a thimble, I got sore fingers sewing these handles in place.

4.  Internal pockets.  1 zip pocket and 1 patch pocket.

5.  Purse feet

6.  Inner base for support

I wanted some support in the base of my bag, but I didn't want to spend any more money on bits and bobs.  To make the base support, I quilted together a layer of canvas, wadding and shirting.

Of course, when I overlocked it into an oval shape, it looked like a super-sized pad, but never mind, it is between the bag and the lining and will never be seen.  It is secured in place by the purse feet.

7.  Top-stitched seams.  Stitching paper into a bag shape  is harder than I anticipated.  There is no flexibility in the paper, so I found myself standing in funny positions over the machine to feed the seams through, especially for the top-stitching.  I used jeans thread for the top-stitching.  I constructed the bag so that the lining was attached all the way around the top edge of the bag, with the bottom of the lining completely open, so that I could slip the lining up and into the bag, without having to turn the bag through.  I then closed up the bottom lining seam.

So cost to make
Brown paper - recycled
Wax - from stash
Purse feet - from stash
Base - from remnants
Lining -$3
Handles - $20
Thread - from stash
Pattern - paper and pencil

I haven't costed the stash items, because I consider many of them to be "sunk costs" these days...meaning I should use them up, they will be worth nothing when I die.  However, if these items all had to be costed and you consider the amount of time I spent making this, the $149 asking price for the original inspiration piece seems very reasonable...if only I wasn't such a committed diy-er who likes the challenges these sorts of projects bring.

Sucker that I am, I made a second one for one of my sisters, only with bright coloured lining and tan handles.

In the interests of full disclosure, I admit that I have seen the inspiration bag once more since I finished mine, and it is made with a much thicker paper and so seems a little sturdier.


Robyn said...

This looks so cool. I actually thought it was leather to start with, I would never have thought to try making a bag from paper.

Summer Flies said...

Firstly, was it wrong to laugh throughout some parts of this post? I though it was made from the paper stuff that feels/looks like leather... it's name escapes me( - but it's super expensive and I wanted to make my niece some travel bags with it) so I'm super impressed with your bag. I'd be interested in how it wears.

Megan O said...

This looks fantastic. I never would have thought waxed paper would be strong enough for a bag. I loved reading about the process, especially the spilt wax and giant pad!

Jenny said...

Well it looks really cool!

Raquel from J.C. said...

wow! very impressive! I've done some waxing on fabric but I'm going to try with paper, thanks for sharing!

Crab and Bee said...

I've had more than a few sewing projects where I ended up wishing I'd just bought the dang thing... but it's a mistake I keep willingly making! Your bag looks really cool, though, and you would have missed out on all the engineering fun you had :)

Sue said...

Good on you for persevering. The bag looks great and I am sure you will use it heaps.

Evie Jones said...

So. Cool!

liza jane said...

Very cool! I think it was well with the effort. And I love the story about spilling the wax. Ha!

Audrey said...

Great looking bag. I love the texture of the waxed paper. Very unique and I agree with other's comments, worth all the work it took.

Gail said...

Very very cool! Brown paper is quite hard to find these days.