This is a guest post from an expert on all things art and crafts Melanie Falick*
No machines, pinning, pattern sheets, interfacing, ironing, or fitting, Maya Donenfeld’s Upcycled Pouches have quickly become one of my favorite small hand-sewing projects.
These cute, useful sacs, ideal for gift-giving, are made out of Tyvek harvested from deconstructed mailing envelopes. Tyvek is a type of super-strong, water-resistant plastic that looks like paper and in some ways acts like it. For example, Tyvek is smooth and can be cut easily with scissors (though it is very difficult to tear) and accepts paint and ink easily. (Uses for Tyvek span the spectrum from envelopes to disposable coveralls to housewraps.)
Last weekend I invited my mom to come over to make these pouches with me. I wanted some company and I knew she’d be able to help if I had any trouble inserting a zipper (which I’d never done before). As a fringe benefit, she arrived with a huge stash of zippers in beautiful colors, leftovers from many years ago when my uncle owned a zipper company. (I have vague recollections of him bemoaning the growing popularity of Velcro when I was a child.)
After deconstructing the envelopes, we painted our “fabric” with acrylic paint and then stamped it with both store-bought and homemade stamps. I loved mixing and matching the paint and zipper colors with the stamp designs.
Wonkiness is part of the charm of this project, which makes it perfect for me as I am a rather imperfect/wonky crafter. After brushing the paint onto the Tyvec, you wipe it with a rag, which lightens it, reveals some of the fibers within it and gives the coverage an appealing weathered look. All of the stitching is done by hand and small miscalculations in stitch length don’t show—or matter. The Tyvek is supposed to crinkle, so you don’t have to do any ironing. And, of course, the charm of stamping is the slight imperfections that it naturally produces.
All in all, these pouches are easy and fun to make. The class is short, only about 18 minutes. You have to let the paint dry, which takes a couple of hours, but once that’s done the sewing only takes about 30 minutes per pouch, less once you get into the swing of it and especially if you’re making a small size. Another advantage of this project—you can make each pouch any size or shape you like as long as you have a zipper as long as the opening at the top.
The learning curve here is pretty minimal. Sometimes it feels good to work hard, decipher something complex, and build up skills over time. And sometimes it feels good to try something new, not take it too seriously or treat it too preciously, and see good results quickly! This project is an example of the latter. Today I say Hooray for instant gratification!
I think this polka dot “fabric” is my favorite. (I made my own dot stamp using a Speedball Speedy Cut Printing Block. A potato probably would have worked just as well for such a basic shape.)
The inside of a pouch in progress. Just one more side seam to stitch since the bottom is the fold.
A finished pouch with a metallic leather bracelet. Together they’re a gift for a friend. (I bought the floral stamp at a craft store.)
*Melanie Falick is a creative consultant and freelance editor and writer. She is the former publishing director of STC Craft, an imprint of Abrams. She also teaches several Creativebug classes, including Leather Wrap Bracelets. Connect with her on social media, as follows:
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