It is in the bag!

Simple formula for lined bag with your choice of size, handle and closure!  So easy it is already “in the bag”.


Working with new sewists, I am continually on the look out for quick to make and clever useful projects.  More experienced seamsters can whip these out in batches. Early in the game sewists can experience easy success!    Teacher gifts, party favors, so many uses!  I am considering small bags from theme fabric to house a bar of hand made soap for an upcoming bridal shower.

Start with scraps if you like.  You will need two same size longish rectangles.  The formula is as follows:

Desired bag width plus 1 inch for seam allowances.  Desired height of bag times 2.5 to 2.75 for a generous flap.  If you have a specific item to bag, measure it now!

Play around with what you have on hand to start with and have some fun!

Right sides together, with a quarter inch seam allowance, sew both rectangles along one short side.

Open this.  Press the seam allowance towards the lining, and under stitch.  Under stitching will roll the seam towards the lining so this edge looks really clean.


View of back side of bag after under stitching and top stitching!


Press and top stitch with a fancy stitch if you like.  If you plan to close your bag with hook and loop tape, include one side of the tape along the edge of the front of your bag now.


For a firmer flap add a bit of fusible interfacing!

Align your work and trim off any excess fabric that may be caused by the under stitching.    With right sides together, pin the pieces together and draw a fancy shape for the flap, or leave it straight.  A hex ruler might be a nice tool to keep both sides symmetrical.  Stitch this seam.  A straight seam would under stitch nicely!

Optional “wrap” the corners of your fancy cut flap.

Make a strap!  A 14×3 inch rectangle folded rst lengthwise, stitched with a quarter inch seam turned and top stitched works great.  As does ribbon, webbing or twill tapeimage

Pin your strap that has been folded in half with raw edges aligned to the raw edges of the bag and the folded edge towards the center of the bag.  Set it just below where your flap ends and the bag begins so that it ends up near the top of your bag.  Baste in place.  In the photo my strap raw edges extend past the raw edge of the bag. This adds security and keeps the selvages on the strap from showing on the finished bag.



Now on for the tricky part:  See above, pull the bottom of the bag so that it covers the strap.  Pin the bag (both layers) to the outside cover only of the front of the bag on the right and left sides.  Then slip the lining of the bag over the front of the bag.  This basically turns the bag wrong side out and the lining will form a loop on top with the outer bag also forming a loop on the bottom.  The bag portion will be tucked up into the flap, but only just past the strap.    The remainder will be the flap.  If you are creating a specific size bag to fit a particular item.  Now is the second good time to measure.  (The first would be before you cut the fabric.) In the photo I used clips, as I had lined these bags with PUL.



Side seam stitched with “L” seams!

Align right sides together, and make a 3/8 inch seam along this edge.  Making sure to back stitch over the strap to secure it.

Make sure the second side of you bag is lined up and symmetrical to the side you just sewed.

Create two “L” seams along this edge.  Start at the top and just about a half inch after you sew across the many layers of the sides of the bag.  Pivot and stitch to the edge creating a seam that looks like the capital letter “L”.  Then a few inches later along this edge, make another “L” seam that serves two purposes.  It leaves a clean and sturdy opening for turning and finishes the side seam of the bag.  A small bag needs a smaller opening than a larger bag.


Second half of “L” seam!

Suggested ratio would be to leave an opening half the length of the bag side.


Flip it the bag right side out, this may take multiple flipping to be sure the lining is on the inside.  Poke out corners with a handy tool (chopsticks work great here!).  Pin the opening closed with the raw edges neatly tucked inside.  Top stitch narrowly to ensure that the opening is securely closed.


Complete the closure by adding the other half of the hook and loop tape to the inside of the flap, or add snaps, buttonholes and buttons, or whatever makes your heart happy. Kam Snaps make my heart happy!  I get mine locally at Hip Stitch and would be glad to show you how easy they are to apply.  A pattern with measurements, and possibly kits will be available in July 2016.

This makes a great snack bag, holiday gift bag, cosmetics, or think fusible fleece for an electronics bag.

Happy sewing!  Joanimage









Pillowcase Bag

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.

image.jpgOn 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.

imageMeasure 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!image.jpg

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.

image.jpgAdding 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.image

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.

image.jpgI 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.

image.jpgLastly, 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!






Sewing Green

So it is only mid-November, but the fire drill has started.  Any crafter, or person who leans towards making holiday gifts, has  been feeling the pressure for a while now.  The list making, supply shopping, material gathering…. It starts early, even before the first holiday decoration goes up at Hobby Lobby, we crafters are planning for the holidays.

Crank the pressure dial up a notch if you are planning for one or more craft shows.  Let the power sewing begin, and why didn’t I start working on this in August?  The pressure increases exponentally when your closest family members have birthdays during the holidays.  Gotta craft double time to show them the sewing love they deserve.

Today I worked on some really cheesy holiday fabric that I had promised myself that I would get to -at least a portion of -this year.  Looking back it must have been double discounted when I purchased it years ago.  Blue, lots of blue, blue ornaments with white deer on a blue background.  Tiny white reindeer on a navy background, white snow flakes on a blue checked background.  Azure dreidels on white.  These had all been culled from the stash and cut into various squares.

With the promise of easy reusable holiday/birthday wrap, I used  directions from a pattern I put together for an origami napkin.  The plan was to use (really use up) some holiday fabric on one side, with a not so holiday coordinate on the other side.  This way the wrapping could be used multiple times in a year.image

These are like dinner napkins, but ginormous, over a yard across.  Perfect for a table topper, or furoshiki.  A great way to use some of that “what was I thinking” fabric, and turn it into something cool.  Green to use what you have, and green to use it for more than one occasion and even greener to use year after year.  Kind of like unpaper towels.  You can find the free pattern in Stashed,  here, and the really cool fabric for napkins here.

Hope I have inspired you to pull from your stash and make something green and cool for the holidays.