While I’m away on my honeymoon seamstress Anita is here to help you sew up your very own bag!
Hello everyone! I’m Anita and am happy to be back here at Squirrelly Minds, guest posting with another DIY! This DIY is special to me, it was the first thing I ever learned how to sew. I went to my first sewing class this past February, thinking I’d be happy if I left knowing how to sew in a straight line. But my instructor had other plans and said “let’s make a bag.” And so we did. It was scary. But it was not difficult. So here’s a very easy DIY for anyone trying to gather up the courage to try out a sewing machine!
Disclaimer: Crazy cat lady aside, I got a bunch of cat-printed fabric on sale at Hancock fabrics, and the plan was to make a series of those cat-themed bags to send it over to the non-profit shelter my mom volunteers at. It will be hard to part with them, though.
The materials you’ll need are the following:
– Sewing Machine (not pictured)
– Fabric Scissors
– thread in the color of your fabric
– 1/2 yd of main fabric (the one you want on the outside of the bag)
– 1/2 yd of lining fabric (for the inside of your bag)
My two cents on the fabric: I like using 100% cotton. It is just such an easy fabric for a beginner, it holds its shape well and it won’t give you too much grief. Besides, it’s good priced and fabric stores have a lot of pretty options. I tend to choose a big print for the outside, and a neutral print for the inside. That’s just how I like doing it!
Part One: Cut your fabric
Grab your fabric and cut two 15 by 15 inches squares off each fabric, two squares for the main fabric and two squares for the fabric that will be your lining.
Then with the remaining fabric, cut two strips of roughly 3 by 22 inches of both fabrics.
Optional Part: Add a Pocket
This pocket thing was my pet-peeve with the first bag I made, because there wasn’t one. So when I sat to create my second bag on my own, I decided to add a pocket. So you might want to skip this part on your first run if you’re a total beginner like I was!
If you cut wisely, you might have some small pieces of fabric left. I like using some of that fabric to create a pocket inside the bag. Grab one of the squares from your lining, and a rectangular piece of your main (outside) fabric from your left overs.
Then fold all four sides about a quarter of an inch, press (with an Iron! I didn’t know that’s what “press” mean before my class!), then fold it one more time and press again. Like that:
When you’re done, sew just ONE of the edges on your machine, the edge that will be the TOP of your pocket.
Now place your to-be pocket where you would like it to be in the bag. I like placing mine roughly on the center of the top half of my lining square.
Sew it to the bag. Remember to NOT sew the top part of the pocket! Sounds dumb, but I’ve done it by accident! And un-picking your thread takes too much time.
Part Two: Sew It by parts.
Pin THREE SIDES of your square of main fabric together with the other main fabric square (right sides together, meaning, the printed part goes with the printed part)
Pin THREE SIDES, but leave a “space” on the bottom edge of the lining fabric. You’ll use that space later on to turn your bag inside out, so make sure it’s big enough for your hand to go through.
The straps are pinned differently. As with the squares, you pin with right sides together, but in the case of the straps, you pin the main fabric with the lining fabric.
See if the below picture helps your understand it all:
Now sew where you pinned! I leave a distance of 1/2 an inch between edge of fabric to your needle. Those numbers on the metal plate on the base of your needle foot can guide you to keep the lines straight.
Part Three: Straps
Your strap pieces are sewn together. But, as you have noticed it, they are inside out. So go ahead an turn them right side out!
They’ll look kind of weird when you’re done, so using your fingers as best as you can, try to get them flat. Press the straps so they lay flat.
Now, to give the straps a more finished look, we’ll run them through the machine again, but this time on the right side. The edge of the fabric should be touching the edge of the foot, like the photo below shows:
Do it on both sides of both straps!
Part Four: Putting it all together
’Tis the end, and ’tis also the complicated part. I’ll be honest and say I got this part wrong 2 out of the 5 times I did this on my own. So I’ll try to explain it in a way I could have understood it.
1. First, turn your main fabric square inside out.
2. On the top part, measure 3 inches between the edge of the bag towards the center.
3. Place one end of the strap there, with the main fabric towards each other, like the photo below:
5. Do the same thing with the other end of the strap, on both sides.
6. Now grab your lining, and with it still inside out, put it over the bag, covering the straps and everything. It will look like this at the top:
7. Pin all around it, creating the opening at the top (granted, inside out for now)
8. Now you’ll sew it all together! All the parts come together now, so place the pinned bag in your sewing machine and sew it all around.
9. Now remember that hole at the bottom? Use it to turn your bag inside out.
Part Five: Finishing Touches
You’re SO close to be done! Yay! Your bag is looking pretty good at this point, but just to add the finishing touch, we’ll do something similar we did to the straps earlier. So do the same all around the upper edge of your bag, and it will look really neat:
Now we need to close off that hole at the bottom, right? Just sew it, really close to the edge. Easy!
Last, but not least, you’ll create a “bottom” for your bag. Turn your bag inside out, make sure it’s all even. Fold a little triangle at the bottom, with the seam in the center.
With a pin, mark about an inch and a half from the edge.
Sew in a straight line.
Repeat on the other corner.
Here’s what it will look like at the bottom:
And hey. You’re done! DONE! Woohoo!
Unless you’re a crazy overachiever like me and you want to add more details. In this bag, I added a little bow at the top, because I’m just obsessed with making them.
Here’s a few of the other bags I did using this tutorial, for some inspiration. It’s such an easy bag to make, and you can get lovely results.
If you decide to do one of those, please leave a link with your results in the comments. If you have any questions, find me on twitter at @anitaboeira and ask away!