I have been looking at this lovely cotton/linen blend fabric in my favorite local quilt shop for some time, and wondering what the highest and best use for it might be, when someone came in to purchase one yard. There was a yard and a half cut wrapped around the outside of the bolt, and she did not want that. I deemed it orphan fabric, that I must find a use for. I love the blue, cream and aqua coordinating print, and the cream solid that was part of the line, and an idea struck. Why not a bag? This cotton and linen was a little heavy for a top, nice for jacket or skirt, but a bag is always useful. So the yard and a half of the Ikat-looking print, 3/4 yard of the greek key print, and a bit of the cream called my name, loud enough for me to make the leap.
After making sure that all three fabrics were exactly the same width, I started cutting. Out of the larger piece, I cut three half yard sections, and quarter yards of the greek key, and two inches from the cream. Best practice would be to fold the cream two inch strip and the greek key 1/4 yard strip in half (wrong sides together) lengthwise and press. I was in a hurry, so I skipped this step. Next steps are as follows:
Baste the (folded in half) two inch strip to the right side of the top of the 1/2 yard strip with a narrow 1/4 inch seam. Fold this assembly in half (right sides together), so that you have a 18 x 22 inch rectangle and make a generous half inch seam along that selvedge edge. Be sure that your seam is deep enough so your selvedge does not show. Alternatively, you could trim off the selvedge, but that would require then finishing the seams. I often err on the side of using that selvedge, unless I think it might shrink horribly. then by all means, cut it off! It would be a good idea to press open here.
Take the quarter yard strip, unfold it, and make a seam along the selvedge edge the same depth as the one you just made. The object here, is to have that greek key cuff the same width as the body of the bag. Here, you can trim the selvedges off the cuff, after you have seamed it, as it will be folded in half, and no raw edges will be exposed on your finished project. Set this aside.
On the main body of the bag, twist the seam you just made to the center of the tube, matching it with the center fold of the fabric, and right sides together, stitch across the bottom with a half inch seam allowance. This seam will need finishing, and I serged mine. A nice zig zag would work, or even a second set of stitching at 1/4 inch would be my chosen finishing method before I had a fancy machine.
Measure in from each side an amount that pleases you. I usually like to use five inches here, and pin your straps to the cream cuff. Make sure that they are not twisted. Pin the cuff folded in half to the right side of the bag body. Match the center seams, and then from the body side of the bag, where you can see the initial basting, stitch around the top of the bag with a 3/8 inch seam allowance. The object here, is to cover your previous stitching, so it is no longer visible from the outside of the bag. In this photo, I used my favorite seam guide taped to my machine. Any laminated card will do. It gives enough depth to have an edge to run your fabric right up against. Magnetic seamguides are helpful too!
Contrary to the photo, one really should remove pins before sewing. If you are going to sew over pins, then use a longer stitch, and sew slowly. Bur really, you should remove them as you get to them. Sew slowly over your straps, so that you do not break a needle!
Next, pin the straps up the 4 inch or so width of the cuff, so that they are straight. Top stitch around the top of the bag, including the straps in the stitching. You can get fancy and as you cross a strap, sew down the edge of it to the cream cuff, across the bottom and back up the other side, then across the strap, and on to the next one. This will make for more secure straps! I like to use 3/4 yard of webbing for each strap.
Adding pockets! I cut three 10 inch by 15 inch rectangles. Finsished one 10 inch end with a narrow hem, and sewed up the side seams so that the unfinished edge was about an inch longer than the finished edge. I made a French seam here, so that my bag would be finished.
This gave me an edge to attach to the raw edge of the inside of my bag. I pinned it between the straps and sewed over previous stitching to secure the loose hanging pocket.
Then I took the whole thing to the serger, and serged across the bottom seam. Serged around the seam that holds the cuff, straps, cream strip and pocket. There is a lot going on here, so sew slowly. Then I boxed the corners.
I cut two inch squares from the bottom corner of each bag, starting from the seam line and corner, then squashed this, so that the bottom seam matched up with the side fold, and serged across this. Later, I reinforced with a straight stitch about 1/4 inch in from the serging. this will make for a much sturdier bag.
Lastly, top stitch around the top cuff, keeping the pocket free of the top stitching, and all of that seam allowance underneath the top stitching. This will make your single layer bag sturdy and clean finished on the inside.
Note the yardage mentioned in this post was enough for three bags. Check out my local quilt shop for instructions to make just one, or sign up for a class!
Now you can stylishly set off for the market, or carry a project in process with you when you go out.
This is a great project for heavier home dec fabrics. Alternatively, you could use two layers of quilting fabric, and perhaps stablilze the fabric with a fusible interfacing or fusible fleece. Quilted fabric, or denim would be fun too!