Making bags and
running events

Quick Jump :    Bag Patterns    |    Running a Sewing Bee    |    Equipment Suppliers

Making Bags

Before you can start making bags, you’ll first need some fabric! Based on the experiences of existing Boomerang Bags groups, in most locations there is no shortage of useable second-hand fabric out there, its just a matter of finding it! Below are a few ideas of how/where to source fabric, and types of material that may be suitable for making bags. Check out the Boomerang Bags Communities Facebook group for even more ideas. 

Sourcing Fabric/Materials

  • Ask volunteers and friends to check their linen cupboards or sewing rooms
  • Call out to the wider public for fabric donations through media, newsletters, social media, school newsletters and so forth
  • Approach op-shops and second-hand stores
  • Ask local schools to run a ‘fabric drive’
  • Ask hotels for sheets and pillow cases that are no longer being used
  • Approach local businesses or factories that may have fabric waste such as samples and end of rolls (that may otherwise be disposed of)

Suitable Types of Fabric

  • Cotton (sheets, doona/duvet covers)
  • Pillow cases
  • Calico flour bags
  • T-shirts (if they can no longer be worn)
  • Plastic animal feed bags (depending on your machines)
  • Netting/curtains for produce bags
  • Hessian Coffee Sacks from the local coffee roaster

Bag Patterns

Below are a number of bags patterns and demonstration videos created by our clever and creative Boomerang Bags communities. Feel free to use these or create your own design. If you have a new design that you would like to share, we’d love to include it – please email [email protected]

How to run a bag-making bee

We Follow The ‘Five P’ Rule –

Prior
Preparation
Prevents
Poor
Performance

The first workshop can be a bit daunting and the preparation for this one can be the most labour intensive. Once the sewing bees become regular and helpers come on board, it gets easier!

TIP – Do a prep workshop before the workshop!

Before the sewing bee

Always have handles cut and

» Ready to iron or/and
» Ironed and ready to sew or/and
» Sewn and ready for pinning to bags

Pre-cut material (bags and handles)
Do this before the workshop or make this the workshop

At the bag-making bees

You will be asked, ‘What would you like me to do?’ Ask ‘What do you like to do—ironing? sewing? pinning?’ And gauge reaction and put them in a safe place where they feel comfortable. If they like talking, put them on a table of pinning!

Some will sew, some will iron, some will pin (if you have that available, it can be done as prep to simplify things). Some can snip threads and enjoy being the ‘quality control’ and folding the bags.

Some simply come for a chat (we’ve even had an 85 year old who sat and drank red wine but only after he delivered his box of perfectly made bags for the community!)

Make sure you have at least one overlocker, ideally two—one to overlock sides and one to overlock handles to bags.

Have lots of handles in various stages for ironing, pinning and sewing.

Have plenty of pre-cut material available.

Look after your VOLUNTEERS.

Provide sustenance – plastic free munchies and drinks.

Allow the opportunity to talk about themselves.

Let them know how grateful you are for their time and support.

Consider collecting local business donations and providing a lucky door prize to volunteers at sewing workshops.

Offer a boomerang bag to volunteers to take home.

Educate and inspire, connect and share. Everyone has something to offer and will want to help.

Provide a sign on sheet.

After the bag-making bee

Take home stages such as:

» Ironing handles
» Sewing handles

Organise a drop off/pick up point for 10 packs/take home jobs (e.g. one persons home)

Volunteers might like to know how many bags are completed by the end of the sewing bee.

Keep an eye on progress and change the order of things if necessary to give time to complete the last stage (sewing around the top twice).

Allow time at the end to pack down. Volunteers will be happy to pitch in to clean floors, put dishes away and tidy up and pack the stages away ready to go again for next time. Try not to leave to one or two people.

Health and Safety

In order to ensure that all the i’s are being dotted and t’s are being crossed in terms of liability, we recommend using the checklist below prior to sewing workshops, market stalls and events.

  • Ensure all materials are free of holes/tears and have been washed if necessary
  • Handles are securely fastened and bags can easily hold the equivalent of 4 litres of milk
  • All machines have been tag tested
  • Use the volunteer sign on sheet to record names of everyone in attendance at sewing bees (a requirement in Qld to access PL insurance)
  • Cords are tucked away and are not a tripping hazard
  • Recording of hours and volunteer numbers will also help with maintaining your login with up to date information.

Equipment Suppliers

Note: If your community is based outside of Australia and find a local supplier for any of the below equipment, please let us know so that we can add their details to toolkit for others to use.

Screenprinting Supplies

(silkscreen with 2 logos + a squeegee)

AUSTRALIA
Darren (Kingprint)
[email protected]

NEW ZEALAND
CCG Industries Inc (Auckland)
[email protected]

Screenprinting Ink

AUSTRALIA
Recommended Type: Aqua PermasetScreenprinting Ink
Colour: Bright Red
Stockists (Australia): www.permaset.com

Pre-printed sew-on labels

(with ‘AUSTRALIA’, or no specified location)
www.boomerangbags.org/shop

Pre-printed sew-on labels

(customised with your location)

1. Fill out the Custom Label Enquiry Form
(The cost will depend on the quantity and size of the labels ordered (the smaller ones are less expensive, though the larger ones are becoming more popular).

2. Await a response with proof of artwork – check spelling and size, then approve

3. You’ll then receive a Paypal invoice which needs to be paid prior to production

4. Provide your postal address, and request no plastic packaging with your order 🙂

Thread

Within Australia, quality thread can be purchased at wholesale prices from Charles Parsons as per the below details:
For straight stitch machines:
5000m cones industrial thread
$11.50 plus GST
For overlockers:
5000 m poly
$6.30 plus GST

AUSTRALIA
Charles Parsons
Heather Lines
Ph: +61 3 9380 3612
[email protected]
Please ring and order as an individual customer and pay via credit card for direct delivery from Melbourne (Aus).

Wooden Boomerang Bags Signs

If you are unable to make these locally, they can be purchased from the Boomerang Bags website. These are made locally in Burleigh Heads, Queensland.
www.boomerangbags.org/shop

OUTSIDE OF AUSTRALIA OR NEW ZEALAND?

If you have found a local supplier for any of the above items that you’d like to recommend, please email the details to [email protected] so that they can be included in this list.