How to Make a Nature Bag

>> Monday, August 16, 2010

So, we're embarking, at our house, in a year of "homeschool." Henry and Spencer are both of "preschool" age and so we're starting our education slowly. It's going to be a blast, I have decided.

Aside from letters and numbers, I have theories about wee ones and their education. My father says that children today suffer from "NDD" which stands for "Nature Deficit Disorder." I tend to agree. Kids today are bombarded by media and the like and don't get enough free, outdoors time.

We are getting out! The weather is slowly (emphasis on SLOWLY) cooling to the point that being outside and NOT having to be wet is becoming a reality. (YEAH!!) This means it is now time to hit up nature before it gets too cold.

Well, my kidlets kind of love to bring the out-of-doors home with them. More often than not, I am washing rocks and sticks with our laundry. I created little "nature" bags to allow them to explore freely and bring home (don't worry, we're not robbing National Parks) little bits of what they see to further study, or create art with or just have that collection of stuff from outside that all little kids have.

You'll need:
Fabric for the bag. I chose to use PUL which is waterproof. (I had it from diaper-cover-making) If you want to get some, then do, because I love the waterproofing! It allows for dirty WET stuff to come home without making a huge mess. However, a nice canvas or even wool would work just fine. Use what you've got, if you can. I used a tiny little 14 inch portion for each bag, since my kids are small. I'd say that a half a yard would make a BIG bag and a 1/4 would make a smaller size.

If you WANT to put a monogram on the bag, then you'll need fabric and interfacing or felt to do that too. With three boys, monograms are an absolute necessity to avoid fights. If your kids are better-behaved than mine, then feel free to skip the monogram, but it's kind of cute too.

Strapping. You can sew it with fabric if you want (but that takes longer) or you could use bias tape or actual canvas strapping, whatever.

All right, here goes:
Measure out the size width you want. The bag is just one big piece of fabric sewn together, so lay it out, eyeball it, and make sure you've got enough fabric to make the front and the back. The original piece for the bag will be MUCH longer than it is wide.

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Then make sure it IS long enough. The deal is, you need to be able to fold up the bottom to make the bag part and the top to make the flap part. Cut it once you're happy with the size.
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That picture isn't the best, but you can see that there is a bottom folded up and a top flap?

For the monogram, you know the drill, either fabric + iron-on interfacing, stencil and cut, or felt, stencil and cut. Easy!
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Find the middle of the back of the bag, pin and sew. My darn PUL was slippery and so I ended up with slightly crooked monograms. Luckily, my kids don't care. We'll call it "fanciful", shall we?
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Next, for the "bag" part. Flip the bottom up, right sides together, and sew.
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For the flap, just turn the hem under and sew.
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Bag, inside out:
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Bag, right side out, before strapping:
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Other side, with crooked monogram:
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Strapping: I used bias tape (cuz that's what I had) so I sewed down the sides, to keep it closed. If you use fabric, you'll need to fold it under and sew so it's not frayed. Canvas strapping you can just sew on.

Measure your kid, so you make sure it fits cross-wise, like a messenger bag.

And sew on the INSIDE of the bag, right on the side seams.
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We took ours on their inaugural hike yesterday and they were perfect! Water bottles fit in them, plus all kinds of "outdoor-ness." The boys LOVED having their own pouch and my dad stole Oliver's to take some rocks of his own home. :)

One little bag took me 10 minutes to complete. It's a SUPER fast project.

And as a side note, if you can't sew, you can always find little shopping bags, or the like to use as nature bags. Whether you make it yourself or not, kids LOVE the idea of their "own" bag for collecting.

Go, and fight NDD while having fun with your kiddos.


The Nelsen Family: August 19, 2010 at 9:53 AM  

I'm (trying) to do homeschool preschool for the boys...because I'm a slacker and didn't get Andrew signed up in time for the preschool co-op I wanted to do. :( And everything else is so dang expensive. Anyway, our city's parks and rec department offers some great preschool naturalist "hikes" (there's no hiking around here, seriously) and activities, they're really cheap. They've got one where you go look at butterflies, one for birds, etc. Question is will I be willing to brave the heat to go? :)

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