Summer is here, and I am so excited to start filling up my free time with warm weather activities. When it comes to beaches, pools, picnics and the like, I am definitely a planner — I like to bring everything I could possibly want along with me so I’ll never be caught without water, sunscreen, a book, a sandwich, a spare pair of shoes or an extra towel. I’m basically a traveling general store in the summer, but I love it! When this fun project appeared in our inbox from Parisian crafter and blogger Pascale Mestdagh, I knew I had my first summer DIY on my hands; this mesh beach tote is perfect for carrying all my summer stuff.
This summery beach bag DIY makes clever use of window screen mesh, which is a cheap, easy-to-use material that can be manipulated like any other fabric. I love that Pascale chose punchy orange and natural leather to contrast with the light gray tone of the mesh; it’s sophisticated and hits just the right note for summer. This tote is easily adaptable, too: Pascale added a handy zip pouch, which could be sized up or down or turned into pockets, depending on your preference. Thanks for sharing, Pascale! — Kate
Read the full how-to after the jump . . .
I got the idea for this project at our neighborhood’s Friday morning market where I saw a lady with a very interesting mesh bag. As a matter of fact, I liked her shopping bag so much that I asked her about it. She had bought it nearly 15 years ago, and it still looked like new even though it was her favorite market bag. And no, these bags were no longer available, she said.
Somehow, the bag stayed on my mind. How about making one of my own? It would be perfect for the beach, and the mesh would keep us from taking too much sand home. All I needed to find was mesh of some sort. A trip to my favorite hardware store taught me that window screen material was probably the closest I could get. This bag isn’t an exact copy of the original — I added some details as I went: a small zippered pocket to keep change and keys safely tucked away, fabric trimming and an oilcloth-covered bottom for sturdiness. I also chose leather handles instead of plastic tubing because that’s what I had on hand. To my surprise, the window screen material was fairly easy to work with and could be sewn on the machine without any problem. I used a slightly longer stitch than usual, but that’s about it. I feel tempted to use window screen material in other projects, as well. A short list has been made already . . . all I need is time. But first, let’s go to the beach! — Pascale
- window screen material (moustiquaire in French, muggengaas in Dutch), new or used, 66 cm x 100 cm
- a piece of plastic for the bottom — the Clover ones work fine, but any other piece of plastic/wood/board would work equally well, 13 cm x 51 cm (it can be cut to size)
- a piece of oilcloth, new or used, enough to cover the board and to make a zippered pouch (optional)
- bias tape, enough to cover the side and bottom seams, and the zippered pouch side seams
- 15 cm zipper for the zippered pouch (optional)
- leather strip for handles (Note: If you can’t find any leather, you can use oilcloth or a piece of fabric to make your own handles.)
- rivets to attach handles
- hole punch
- sewing machine and thread
Making the pouch:
1. Cut one 17 cm x 6 cm rectangle and one 17 cm x 28 cm rectangle out of oilcloth.
2. With the zipper facing the right side of the smallest piece of oilcloth, attach one side of the zipper. Fold over and top stitch. Repeat for the other zipper half and the largest rectangle. Top stitch.
3. Fold in half to form a pocket and close the side seams on the right side, about 0.5 cm from the edge. Finish the seam with bias tape (if you’re a confident sewer, you can do this in one go). Repeat for the other side seam: close on the right side and cover with bias tape. No need to sew the top of the pocket closed, as this part will be incorporated into the top hem of the bag.
4. At the short end of the window screen material, fold in 3 cm and fold over again. Use a bone folder to make the crease, if necessary. Secure with paperclips. Top stitch into place. Repeat at the other short end, now making sure to incorporate the zippered pouch, nicely centered. Secure with paperclips. Top stitch into place.
6. Sew the boxed corners. To avoid having to sew through too many layers, you can pre-cut the boxed corners. If you prefer to play it safe, you can cut away the excess material after sewing the boxed corners. If you wish to cut before sewing the boxed corners, cut away a square with sides equal to the width of the panel divided by two; however, don’t forget to take into account seem allowance! (So if the panel is 6 cm wide, take off a square with sides equal to 5 cm.)
7. Make an oilcloth cover for the plastic bag bottom stabilizer by sewing two pieces of oilcloth together, the size of the board plus 1 cm of seam allowance on all sides, leaving one of the short ends open. Turn over and insert the board.
Note: The plastic board is attached to the bag on one side only!
Note: As the size of the rivets will never perfectly match the thickness of the materials used, compensate the difference by using a small piece of leather or other material in the back. This will also add extra strength to the materials used.