How to Make Memory Bags

How to Make Memory Bags

Why not carry the memory of a loved one with you? When a loved one passes away there are usually a lot of clothes, and being sewists, we want to do something with them. For me, it was a healing process when my husband had passed away to find a new way to bring his clothes to life again.

Going through what is in closets and drawers can be daunting, so I had set some boundaries beforehand so I would not get overwhelmed. Grief can be very tiring, so take your time. My approach was:

1. Get 3 bags or baskets and sort into Keep, Donate, Toss
2. When ready to go through the clothing, ask a friend or family member to be part of the process

I knew that I wanted to keep the printed casual shirts that my husband wore daily. I thought these would make great bags. I also kept some coordinating solid shirts so I could also use them for linings or accents on bags.

When using clothing, it can sometimes be a challenge on how to cut or layout your pattern.

Pockets, buttons, yokes, sleeves - the fabric you have available in the clothing will affect which pattern you would choose. If you are making larger bags, and don't plan to use the buttons on the front, open the shirt. You also may need to incorporate the side seams into your bag design. It will completely depend on the pattern that you are using.

Looking at the Casey duffle bag. I cut the largest pieces first, which is an approach I would recommend on any pattern you choose. Since I had two shirts that coordinated, and wanted to make two duffle bags, I ended up being able to interchange the pieces to give it a different look.  I also added the Acorn zipper pulls as my husband loved the outdoors.

The next bag I wanted to make was the Aurora bag. This pattern is a great way to utilize the front of the shirt with the buttons as well as the shirt pocket. Using our “Handmade” label on the front made the bag even more special.

Depending on the weight and type of fabric you are using, interfacing may be needed.  This will add body and stability to the fabric you are using. Check your pattern for requirements based on what fabric you are using. In my case the Aurora is a slouchy bag, so I used Sallie Tomato Fusible Interfacing which adds a little stability to the lightweight dress shirt that I had used.  If you want more structure, you could use Bosal Fusible Hair Canvas or Sallie Tomato Sew In Foam or Sallie Tomato Air Mesh.

This extra interfacing is only added to the apparel fabric from the loved ones clothing. It is not add it to the faux leather or cork.

I have seen other sewists who have made pillows, quilts, and stuffed animals from clothing of their loved ones. In the future I may make some of those as well, but for now I am focused on bags. I like to think that when the person is using it, they are taking my husband out and about. Be it across town, or across the world, he lives on in our hearts.

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