Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Make a Wet Bag Using a Vinyl Tablecloth

I’ve been in love with the “wet bag” concept ever since I saw my first one. A wet bag is a waterproof bag used mostly by mothers who use cloth diapers as a convenient and safe way to transport soiled diapers while they’re out and about. However, the uses don’t end there. Even if you don’t cloth diaper you could always use a waterproof bag to carry around soiled outfits and really anything else that’s been dowsed with fluids from either end of a baby.

My kids are well past the baby stage (Thank the Lord!) but wet bags are also great for toting around wet swimsuits after a day at the pool or the beach. No more leaking plastic Wal-Mart and Target bags for me!

My first instinct was to purchase one already made from one of many lovely sellers on Etsy. Then I decided I could easily make one myself. However, finding PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) in any of my local craft stores was like trying to find a carnival worker with all of his/her teeth. I could have ordered it online but well, I’m just really cheap. So I brainstormed and decided to use an inexpensive vinyl tablecloth instead and it worked like a charm.

See the tutorial below for all the details. Keep in mind that a vinyl tablecloth is not as sturdy nor will it probably be as long lasting as a well made wet bag made with PUL. If you’re planning on using your bag often for soiled baby things, I would definitely suggest either using PUL or purchasing one made with PUL. However, since I knew my use of it would be limited to a few trips to the pool every summer, I wanted a quicker, cheaper option and after several wet swimsuit trips it’s held up remarkably well and it only cost me about $5 (3 for the tablecloth, 2 for the zipper and I’m counting the fabric as free since it was leftover from another project).

Want to make your own? Here's how:
- Vinyl tablecloth - the kind with the white felt stuff on the back – any size will do)
- Zipper – I used a 16 inch zipper. Choose a longer or shorter zipper based on the size of bag you want to make.
- Fabric – I used about ½ yard of home decorator fabric I had on hand (home dec fabric is a little thicker and sturdier than cotton but a good cotton will work just as well)
- General sewing supplies; sewing machine, scissors, thread, etc.

Step 1 - cut your fabric and vinyl

I wanted to have as few seams in my vinyl as possible in order for it to be as water tight as possible. Therefore I cut one large rectangle 34” by 14” (if you have a longer zipper then you can make your bag wider). Cut the same from your fabric (if you’re using scraps and don’t have pieces long enough you could always cut two pieces 17” by 14” and piece them together).
Cut a 1 ½ ” by 16” strip from your fabric – this will become your loop/handle.

Step 2 - attach the zipper

Place the lining (tablecloth) and the fabric wrong sides together (as shown above). Lay the zipper face down along the top edge of the lining and pin in place. Sew the zipper to the top edge of the bag.

Then turn the bag so you’re seeing the right side of the zipper and the bag and top stitch along the edge of the seam. Repeat for the other side of the zipper. It should look like this when you are done. Now (since we have no bottom seam) we have a big loop of fabric attached together by a zipper.

Step 3 - the handle

Fold the strip of fabric for the handle right sides together and sew with a ¼” seam allowance to form a tube. Turn the tube right side out, press flat and top stitch the edges. Fold the handle in half and pin to the side of your bag as shown below.

Step 4 - the French seam (ooh la la)

I adore French seams because they are neat and tidy and professional and I always talk with a really bad French accent when I’m sewing them and it drives my husband insane. Now the professional look of it is not really needed here because we easily could have hidden the raw edges between the lining and the outside of the bag, but I chose the French seam for this bag because it’s basically a double seam and therefore will make for a much tighter, more water proof seam than if we just sewed it once.

Transfer your bag with right sides facing you to your sewing machine. Be sure your zipper is open halfway since we’ll be turning the bag through that opening. Sew a ¼ inch seam allowance down each side of the bag.

Trim your seam as close to the stitching as possible, then turn your bag inside out through the zipper opening. Be sure to push out your corners with a blunt point.

Now sew a ½” seam along each side of the lining. Essentially you are now encasing your raw edges within another seam; making for a more waterproof seal and still keeping the outside of the bag looking flawless.

Step 5 - get wet

Now simply turn your bag right side out and you’re ready to hit the water.

See how nice and contained our seam is - and since it's doubled it is extra leakage resistant.

I like to store the kid’s dry clothes in it when we’re on our way to the pool - that way they stay dry even if the bag gets splashed. Then once we’ve changed I just toss their wet suits in it for the trip home. As always, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments or email me at

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's a fine line, you tell me if I've crossed it

You know that saying "it's so ugly it's cute"? I like to pride myself on easily being able to distinguish whether something is ugly/quirky cute or if it's just plain ugly.

However, I worry that my judgement on such things tends to lose some of its objectivity when it comes to things I've made myself. So I'm going to rely on you, dear readers.

Don't sugar coat it. What do you think of this little guy? Ugly? Weird? or ugly weird cute?

He's got a little zipper mouth as you can see and he can hold things inside him. He's a little puppy and his ears have wire inside them so they're poseable. The ribbon coming out of the top of his head is for a metal clasp or keychain so he can be hung on a backpack or a bag. He's about 4 inches tall - not including his ears.

Would you take him home or leave him in the pound and pray that some blind little old lady comes and takes him home because no one with proper eyesight would dare?