Monday, March 28, 2011


Here's the second part of our creations with coffee bean sacks. Working with the team of Supawan, Noi and their Aunt who make our FABric Journals and Furry Friend Journals, we applied the same journal concept using the coffee sack material, with nice result. Then, with another team of work-at-home seamstresses, we produced our range of laptop bags, messenger bag, sling bag, pencil case and cup coasters (some refinement is needed with these items). The following are the results of our preliminary effort:

We like our Furry Friend Gunny Sack Journal, but the
Pencil Case could do with more trendy linings.

Our Laptop Bags with colours for men and ladies would
look much better with striking coloured slings and handles.

Strong coloured stripes belt would have improved
the look of this Messenger Bag.

As with the bags above, this Sling Bag could do with
a spark of striking coloured sling and strap.

Simple Cup Coasters with fabric borders.

It has been an exciting venture so far, but while the natural texture and raw look of the sack give the material it's unique charm, there are problems with it. One is the strong smell that comes with the coffee bean sack which, fortunately, can be eliminated to a large extent with some back-breaking washing. 
More challenging is the loose weave which makes the sack material difficult to stitch and hold in place. It's even more difficult to control on the sewing machine as the material would shift and slip while being sewn. 
But the most serious problem is that the material sheds tiny hairs of fibers when handled. We learnt from our research that the jute rope the sack material is woven from is itself spun from very short jute fibers; hence tiny hairs of fibers will come off. One possible solution could be to starch the material before using it, but we've yet to try it out. Ultimately, the coffee bean sack may be suitable only for making certain products.


In January, we revealed that we were embarking on our most ambitious "Creative Recycling" venture to-date  ~  to turn coffee bean sacks into useful and attractive products. After nearly two month's effort, we are quite pleased with what we have achieved so far with the different wonderful folks we've been working with in our social enterprise. Here's a preview of our initial results:

Coffee bean sack Teddy Bears with crocheted flowers.

Together with our very talented crocheter Third (who makes our series of Koolly Bears and Gang ~ see our February posting), we came up with these coffee-sack teddy bears, bag charms, mug holder and cup coaster, pencil holder, and reversible tote bag that becomes a fabric tote when turned inside out (the bear face on the bag is also a pocket).

These creations show how touches of skillful crocheting can make an amazing difference to ordinary objects and dashes of colours can bring out the unusual charm of the gunny sack (also known as burlap) material.

Teddy Bear and Angel Bear with key chain that
can be used as bag charms.

Crocheted bear features made these Mug Holder and
Cup Coaster fun and unusual.

Gunny sack Pencil Holder with crocheted bear made from
special jute-fibre yarn.

Reversible Tote Bag with crocheted bear-face pocket and
floral cotton fabric inside lining. Turned inside out and it becomes
a fabric tote with inside bear-face pocket.

NOTE: Look out for Part Two of our CREATIVE RECYCLING VENTURE with COFFEE BEAN SACK. Coming up soon!