How to Make a Bra-Laundering Bag From an Old Pillowcase
If you’ve bought a bra bag in Australia lately, you’ll know that it is of a very bad quality. The seams unravel, the fabric pills and gets destroyed quickly in the washing machine and the zip falls off or stops working. Why pay $15 for a bra bag when you can make your own, save money and have a longer lasting product? This hub is about how to make a bra bag from an old pillowcase – durable, tough and able to handle washing for years on end!
This is a very simple and easy craft tutorial for beginners or people new to using a sewing machine. Experienced crafters can do this project in about 10 minutes.
- Matching Cotton Thread
- Cord/Ribbon/String/Plaited Wool
- Sewing Machine
- Safety Pin
Why Use A Bra Bag?
Bras can cost a lot of money. So do delicate fabrics, anything with lace, pretty nightdresses, light blouses, fancy underwear and so on. Bra bags (otherwise known as delicates wash bags or linen bags) can prolong the life of your delicate clothing for many years – I’ve found that using one can make your bras last twice as long! If you want durability out of your clothes, this is a great way to make them last and since it uses upcycled pillowcases, it’s great for the environment too.
When you wash with a bra bag, what you do is put the bras together in the bag, seal it and place them in the washing machine to wash them. Bra bags avoid all the tangling up and automatic removal of underwires. Your washing machine will have less problems if underwires can't escape into the drum. They're great for lacy and delicate clothes too – they reduce pilling and allow you to wash them in a more gentle fashion, so that clothing doesn’t get destroyed unnecessarily. Don't put bras in the same bag as delicate fabrics, wash the two types separately - or even make two bags!
Step 1: Choose (And Iron) Your Pillowcase
You’re going to be using this bag for years to come, so pick a nice pillowcase with a pretty printed pattern that makes you think “bra bag” with an uplifting feeling. You can always visit a local op shop and buy a cheap pillowcase if you don’t have one around the house. If it is very wrinkled or crumpled, iron it, so that you can work with it (one of the pleasures of sewing is working with a freshly ironed product so that it keeps your motivation up).
Step 2: Choose A Thread Colour
Add a coloured cotton thread that matches your pillowcase to your sewing machine by filling the bobbin and threading the spool. In this case I used pink, but I could have used white or turquoise, or any other complimentary colour.
Step 3: Assess For Additional Stitching
Turn your pillowcase inside out and look at the stitching on the edges. Sometimes, if there's only a single running stitch or if the hemming is falling apart, you'll need to restitch it to have a strong hem. If so, sew a running stitch inner and a zigzag or overlock stitch on the outer bit. This will strengthen the bag significantly.
Step 4: Pin The Drawstring Hem
While your pillowcase is inside out, make sure the top is folded as it normally is for a pillowcase. Then using a set of pins, turn over a hem around the top of the pillowcase about two inches down and pin it into place.
Step 5: Pin The Opening
Next, allow a space (away from the side) where the drawstring will go in. Pin it vertically so you can see where to start and stop sewing.
Step 6: Sew The Drawstring Hem
The opening will be located between the first and second vertical pins. Remove pins as you sew - do not sew over pins or this will break the sewing machine needle.
Start at the second vertical pin. Set your sewing machine to a medium size running stitch and position the fabric so you are sewing about 2cm in from the edge of the hem. Sew forward and reverse a few times on the spot, before completing one cycle of the entire hem around the top of the pillowcase. When you get to the first vertical pin, sew back and forward a few times on that spot, leaving an opening between where the first and second vertical pins were. Cut the loose tail threads.
Repeat the running stitch for another cycle, this time much closer edge of the hem. Don't forget to run the sewing machine forward and reverse a few times on the spots near the opening as you did for the first round.
Step 7: Iron The Drawstring Hem (Optional)
Since the iron might be set up from Step 1, feel free to iron the new hem at the top of the pillowcase if you want to (turn it the right way out first). I find it is helpful to have it ironed for when you want to add the string.
Step 8: Threading The Drawstring
Attach your piece of cord or string to a safety pin. Then put the safety pin into the opening in your drawstring hem and using your fingers, work the pin around the pillowcase until you come back to the beginning again. Pull the safety pin out and unpin it from the cord.
Note: Don't forget to hang onto the end of the cord as you work your way through the drawstring hem!
Step 9: Tie A Knot
When you've got both ends of the cord, tie a knot to hold them permanently together. If you like, you can stop unravelling of the ends of the cord by either sewing them with a small running stitch or applying clear nail varnish to the ends.
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You should now have a finished bra bag, ready for the washing machine. Simply tie a bow with the cord when you want to seal the bag. Why not make a few bags for around the house?
You can also use them for washing lingerie, teddy bears, fancy underwear, nightdresses, boxer shorts and many other things that require protection.
© 2015 Suzanne Day
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