Friday, October 14, 2011

A Bag For Mary (and For You Too)

I found the inspiration for this bag at a website called Tiny Happy and quickly made one for myself (pictures will come later).  I showed it to friends and they made bags for themselves.  And when my niece, Mary's, birthday rolled around, I knew I had to make her one. I wanted to make one that was quite a bit smaller than mine and out of brightly colored corduroy.  The pattern is very adaptable, you can adjust depth, width and strap length very easily.  This bag takes less than an hour to make.

The first thing to do is to draw out your pattern, remembering that all of your final measurements will be 1/2-1 inch smaller, depending on your seam allowance.  Then gather your supplies.  You will need about a yard of main bag fabric and a yard of lining.  You will also need a coordinating button, scissors, pins, a large ruler or straight edge and a pencil. Use the straight edge and the pencil to measure out and trace the pattern onto your main bag fabric (the wrong side).  Then, with the fabric doubled over, cut out two.

Notice how the sides angle towards the top.  The top of the bag is actually narrower than the bottom.  It is not a perfect rectangle.  Keep this proportion when making your own bag pattern, as this helps it to sit well when it is hanging off your shoulder.  Now pin your main bag to your lining fabric (doubled over so you can cut two) and cut around, so that you now have four main bag shapes -- two from the main fabric and two from the lining.

Then cut out some pockets.  I just measure out some random rectangles that are the size that I like my pockets to be, making sure they will fit inside the bag.  For these pockets, I wanted the inside to be lining and the outside to be main fabric.  So for each pocket cut one lining and one main fabric.

Put right sides together and sew around the outside, leaving a couple inches to turn.  I use about 1/4 inch seam allowance (basically I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide around the fabric).

 Turn pockets and iron flat, tucking the unsewn part in to make it straight.  You will sew it closed in a bit.

Take the main body fabric, with right sides together, and sew the two sides together, backstitching on both ends.

Tricky to explain -- the sides of your bag are now going to be the middle.  So open up your bag and match your side seams in the middle, iron the seam open, and then sew the bottom  shut.  Notice that the bottom is not a straight line, it's angled toward a point at the bottom, and that's okay.  I kind of freaked out when I sewed this bag for the first time, but it all works out.

Now you are going to square your corners so there is room in your bag to put stuff.  Matching the bottom seam to the side seam, sew a perpendicular line (making a triangle at your corners) at a depth of an inch or two from the corner point.  You can trim the edges if you want.

Do the same sewing to your lining as you did to the main fabric, except leave a couple of inches at the bottom of the bag for when it is time to turn it out.  Don't forget to square the corners!

Sew on your pockets.  Pin where you would like them to be and then top stitch around three sides.  Make sure the edge that isn't finished on your pocket is at the bottom, so that it gets sewed up as you are sewing around the edges.

With right sides together, push the lining inside the main fabric and pin, pin, pin, including the straps, everthing together.

Depending on the size of your button, cut a strip of fabric about 3 inches by 1 inch.  Fold the edges towards the center, iron, and then fold the edges towards the center again and iron.  Sew the edge down.  This will be your loop for the button.  Fit the loop in between your fabric (main and lining), centered in the back and pin it in place.  The ends of the loop should hang outside, while the loop is tucked down while you sew.

Starting at the end of one strap, sew all the way down, following the edge, until you reach the end of the other strap.  Then sew down the other side of the strap to the other end of the other strap.  Leave the strap ends open!  Clip your corners (pictured above), where the bag straps meet the body.

Turn everything right side out, through the opening in the bottom of the lining.  You can now sew that shut by hand or with a top stitch.  No one is going to see it.

Now top stitch the entire bag, from strap to strap, still leaving the ends of the straps open.

Almost done.  Tuck one end of the strap into the other one, folding in the raw edges and sewing it into place by hand or with a top stitch.  The last thing to do is to sew on your button to the front of the bag.  You're done!!!

Isn't it cute?  And isn't she cute?  Next week I'll show you a couple more variations of the bag, both bigger and with different fabric.  Thank you Tiny Happy for the idea!  I encourage you to look at her pictures of her process, as well as mine, to get a very clear idea of how to sew this simple bag.

- Amy

1 comment:

  1. I just found this tutorial from pinterest! I will be following this to make my daughter her first purse for Christmas. I've been stressing over this task as every bag/purse I've attempted has never been finished out of frustration. Your tutorial is different than all others I've seen and actually makes sense in my brain. So thank you very much. I'll be sure to give you the credit when I show it off!