January 5, 2007
Just what is an Ecology Bag you ask?
It is a user friendly cloth bag about the size and shape of a paper grocery sack, with a flat bottom and two handles, that can lug your groceries, your toys, your beach attire, your stuff anywhere with much more pizazz than a plastic grocery sack or a paper bag, with the one-uppityness of being able to be reused and reused and reused, and if it gets dirty, just pop it in with your next laundry load, and then continue to reuse it over and over and over again…just about forever!
I made my first set of Ecology bags back in 1985 (which I STILL have here in 2007!!!) with the specific purpose of carting groceries for my family (all 7 of us) from the store without the hassle of breaking bags and a big mess when we got home. I originally made 10 of them for us and we began using them every week for shopping. At that time, the grocery store in town was called “Pathmark” and they decided that they would give 3 cents credit for every reused bag that the customer brought in…every time. Well for us, that meant 30 cents a week, and the cost of the fabric and my time making them was paid for in no time at all.
All the other customers in the store and the (checkout people too) marveled at the sight of these bags, because the “usual” re-usable bags that came through were plain canvas and were bulky and just plain ugly. Every time I went into the store with them, people would tell me that I should make some and sell them. Sooooo, after listening to this for a few months, I decided to give it a try.
I began scouring the department stores for mark-down fabric that was good and sturdy and nice to look at. I knew that I needed to keep the cost of the Ecology Bags down to a minimum so as not to defeat the purpose in the first place. Usually that meant that I ended up with what was leftover on a bolt, so there was not much of each, but for $1.00 per yard, who could argue? I got lots of different patterns and colors of these remnant fabrics and went to work. Alas, I usually could only make two or three of each fabric, and then that print was gone forever! But there was always some other print or color to replace it, so they just kept ever-changing! Sometimes I would luck out and end up with a few more yards of a fabric and there would be 6 or 10 of them all of the same kind, but even they did not last long for sale, they were bought and gone in no time! And I kept telling customers to check back often, because they were always changing to new fabrics, and there might once again be something that they just had to have!
I knew that these “for sale” bags needed to be made as I had made mine, which is not your run-of-the-mill bag with a flimsy seam stitched across the bottom just waiting to wear through…
The long piece of the side-bottom-side had to be attached to the squatter piece of the front-bottom-back to hold the two together then the sides had to be stitched to each other to form the bag per se. But this I knew would lead to problems down the road of stuff wearing through the seams on the sides, so I decided it needed to be top stitched through the side seams to hold them in place, so all four side seams are stitched through once more from the top. Then the whole top side had to be rolled down a couple of turns and stitched again in order to make a sturdy top piece that wasn’t about to come undone or fray in the washer.
Then came the handles. I know how frustrating the dumb handles on paper bags can be when they let go, so I decided to really reinforce the handles on my Ecology Bags so that would never happen (to my knowledge it has not yet!). The handles themselves are folded in on themselves and then folded in half and topstitched so they will hold their shape, and then each handle is stitched in a box shape (rectangle) and then in an “X” shape to boot! Thus, each and every Ecology Bag gets the A-1 treatment when they are made.
And those people who urged me to make them were right…people did buy them, and I used to sell a lot of them at every craft fair that I attended.
But then the dark ages (divorce) hit and everything ceased and desisted for a number of years….but now, with my shop opening in May of 2006 (Long Meadow Farms Quilts) the “re-birth” so to speak of the Ecology Bag has come about. For the entire last week’s worth of work, I have labored on creating a bunch of new Ecology Bags so that I can once again offer this quality bag to the public!
The bag above filled with groceries (the black one with bright tropical flowers) and the one filled with beach stuff (the white with pink stripes, ivy, watermelons and crows) are two of my original ten personal bags that are still doing fine!!!
By the way, the name “Ecology Bag” is my minute and miniscule way of making a contribution to the ecology of our planet by urging people to save a tree by reusing a cloth bag whenever they can and to save poluting our landfills with those horrible oil-produced plastic bags by reusing a cloth bag whenever they can. It is a small but heartfelt statement by me to Mother Earth.
(If you came here from the link from my booth on the CraftMall, click HERE to return to there!
If you came here from the link from my booth at HandmadeCatalog, click HERE to return to there!
If you came here from the link on my website Ecology Bags page, click HERE to return to there!
If you are just reading this entry in my blog from my blog and would like to see these Ecology Bags and everything else on my site that I make, click HERE to get to there!)