What better present than the gift of love? This project will allow you to make you own bag of love to give to a beloved one or too keep on your desk to spread the love whenever suits you. This is an up-cycling project: the bag is made out of an old pair of jeans. The denim fabric is sturdy enough to allow the bag to stand alone. The hearts are made with felt, this is a great way to use your left over as you can use whatever assortment of colours you like. The “LOVE” text is painted with the stencil technique.
On top of that this is an easy project: it requires only basic sewing and DIY skills. The project is made of two separate steps: once the painting is done, you will have to wait for the paint to dry and bond before you can start the stitching phase (which can be up to 24 hours). But all in all this project can be completed in 4 hours.
It is not an expensive project: most of the tools are usual and you may already have them, you can use felt left over from previous projects and the denim fabric can be taken from an old pair of yours. You may need to buy the fabric paint which should not cost more than € 5 / US$ 6 / GB£4.
So get ready, below are the 4 easy steps to make a denim bag full of felt love with plenty of pictures along the way.
- Felt in mixed colours (red, pink, coral, etc.).
You will need about 32 hearts and you can make 12 of them in a 20×30 cm (8×12”) piece of felt.
- Matching thread (to be used with felt as contrasting colour).
- Heart shape (should be about 4 cm - 1.6” across).
- Denim fabric: two pieces of 11×21 cm (4.3×8.3”).
- Thread for sewing denim fabric.
- Red fabric pain.
- Small brush.
- Paper knife.
- Cutting mat.
- Paper and pen.
1 – Prepare the stencil
Write the text “LOVE” on your piece of paper. The text should be approximately 5 cm (2”) wide and 1.5 cm (0.6”) high. You can use whatever font you like, either writing by hand or printing from a text editor. The letters should be thick enough to be cut out. As we will use the stencil technique, be aware that the “O” can’t be cut out entirely (we’ll see later how to do this).
Cut around the text making sure you have a 2cm (0.8”) padding on each side. This way you will prevent any paint stain on the fabric around the stencil.
Using the paper knife and laying the paper on the cutting mat, cut out the dark parts of the letters. You need to leave out at least one spot of the “O” otherwise you’ll end up with a plain circle which does not look so good. I left two dark spots on this example. Once the cut out is done, you should end up with a stencil looking like the one shown on picture 1.
2 – Paint the text
Pick one of the denim pieces and lay it right side up so the short sides are horizontal. You may want to lay some plastic material beneath to avoid stains on your working surface. Lay the stencil on top of it and secure with some adhesive tape. The text should seat in the middle of the fabric piece and the bottom line of the text should be 6 cm (2.4”) away from the fabric bottom edge.
Pick a little bit of paint on your brush and start filling the holes, moving from top to bottom and making sure the stencil does not move. It is important not to put too much paint on the brush otherwise the paint may leak beyond the stencil shapes and character borders may get blurry. You can still apply the brush several times on the same spot until it is filled whereas you can’t remove paint once there is too much of it. You should also never work laterally but always move the brush from top to bottom for the same reason of risk of leak. On picture 2 you can see what you should have at the end of this step.
Leave the paint to dry according to the manufacturer guidelines (it can take up to 24 hours). Then press if required to finish the paint bonding to the support.
3 – Make the bag
Lay denim pieces on top of one another so the wrong side is out. Pin together the two side edges and the bottom edge together (the bottom edge it the one where the text is, the top side should be left open). Stitch together the sides that have been pinned using a 0,5 cm (0.2”) seam. See picture 3 for example.
It is now time to box the corner to make the bottom of the bag sturdier. If the following explanations don’t seem clear to you, I found this article from Craftapple quite useful when boxing my first corners.
Lay flat one of the corners of the bag so you end up with a pointy shape where both sides form a 45 degrees angles with the seam line. Mark the line perpendicular to the seam line whom length is 3 cm (1.2”). The seam line is then at 1.5 cm (0.5”) from each side as shown on picture 4. Stitch this 3 cm (1.2”) line twice and cut the excess of the corner as shown on picture 5.
Turn the bag right side out and fold the top over by 3 cm (1.2”) twice: you now have a nice bag as shown on picture 6.
4 – Make the hearts
Cut out three pieces of felt large enough for the paper heart shape to fit in. Stack them and lay the heart shape on top, holding the whole between your thumb and forefinger (see picture 7). With your free hand, cut around the heart shape: this way you’ll get three felt heart totally similar. Repeat as many time as need with whatever colour you like (why not trying to mix several colours for the same heart?) until you are happy you have enough hearts.
Pick a thread contrasting with the heart colour and stitch through top to bottom. This can be done by hand but is much faster with a sewing machine. If you go down the machine route, make sure to make a reverse stitch at the start and at the end of the stitching. See picture 8 for an example of the result you should get. You can now cut out the threads and repeat with the rest of the hearts. You’ll soon end up with a pile of lovely and colourful felt hearts (see picture 9).
That’s it, you are done! You can now fill your bag with the hearts and give yourself a pat on the back.
Please let me know in the comments if you enjoyed the tutorial or if you have any questions. If you decide to make your own bag of love, please let me know and send me a pic for my personal collection! I would love to see what you make.