As promised yesterday, here’s my tutorial of how to make a simple bag! I hope to be as clear as possible, but if there are any confusing spots, please ask and I’ll be happy to clarify where I can.

First of all, you’ll need some materials. For this demonstration, I’m using a thick, cotton duck cloth for the outside, and a standard cotton quilting fabric for the inside. You’ll also want an iron on interfacing (I prefer a polyester that’s thick, but soft, so that the bag still has firmness but isn’t stiff as a board), some thread (I use 100% cotton), something for the handles (like a cotton webbing), a straight edge ruler, scissors, and straight pins. If you have access to a rotary cutter, it will also be a big time saver.

Cut It Out

The first thing you’ll want to do, is to cut your pieces. I’m making a small bag in this demonstration, but you can chose any size you prefer. Typically, my bags are about 10 inches wide and about 12 inches tall. It’s totally up to you though. You’ll want to cut your outer fabric first, then iron on your interfacing, and then cut your two inside pieces. You can either use your ruler and a pencil or fabric marker to mark your fabric and then cut with scissors, or use your rotary blade at this point.

At this point, you’ll want to add whatever you’d like to your bag for embellishment. If you’re making the Circle in the Square bag from Bead Simple, follow those instructions.

Move, Audrey!

Then, tell your cat to move. She’s always sitting where you want to be working….or maybe that’s just me.

You’ll want to cut the handles next. You can use the cotton webbing, or if you’d like, you can always make your own out of fabric.

Handles On

Setting the front panel of the back so that it’s facing you right side up, pin the handles evenly onto the bag. You’ll want to make sure to measure here. The ends of the handles will be flush with the top edge of the front panel. This is also a good time to check to make sure the handle isn’t twisted.

Put It Together

Lay the lining fabric on top of the front panel and handles, facing down. Then pin everything together on the top side. I like to pin on either sides of the handles, so that I don’t get lumps sewn in. Take your front half of your tote to the sewing machine and zip across the top, leaving at least a 1/4 inch seam allowance. I also like to backstitch over the handles for extra support.

Do It Again

Follow the last steps to put the back panel, straps, and lining fabric together. After each are done, pull out your pins and fold the pieces down so you can press the two parts with your iron to lay flat. Once that’s done, open them up again, and get ready to pin them together.

Together Again

Pin the two sides together, right sides together. Line them up as close as possible.

Butt Up

So as to not overload your sewing machine’s needle, you’ll want to butt-up the top of the bag. Fold one of the front flaps to the right, and the other to the left. You’ll be much less likely to break a needle this way.

Sew up both sides of the bag, as well as the bottom of the outside of the bag. Again, make sure you use at least 1/4 inch seam allowance at minimum. This leaves only the bottom of the lining to be sewn.

Squaring the Bottom

If you would like your bag to have a square bottom, you need to cut the edges. Using a ruler, mark on the interfacing a square, measuring from the seam line and not the fabric edge. For this smaller bag, I chose to measure in 3/4 inch. Do this on both sides and cut the squares out with scissors.

Squaring the Bottom

Using the same technique as in the last seam, butt the two edges up to each other, folding one to the right, and one to the left. Stitch the seam once, and then backstitch over the whole edge once more. Making sure that the seams are going the right way, do the same on the other square.

Other side

Now working on the lining fabric, stitch in on either side about 1 1/2 inches. Then, make the square on each side of the bottom, following the same directions for the outside fabric.

Flip Out

Flip the bag right side out through the bottom of the lining.

Stitch Closed

Pull the lining fabric out of the bag, and pin the bottom together, with edges facing inside. Using a blind stitch (this website has a good instruction of how to make a blind stitch) sew the small opening together, and finish with a small knot slipped into the fabric fold at the end. String the thread into the middle of the bag, and bring the needle out away from your work before clipping it.

Around the Top

Pin the top flat and sew around the edge of the bag, about 1/4 of an inch away from the top. Press the bag to get out any extra wrinkles.

Around the Top

That’s it! You’ve made a bag….hopefully!

First of all, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who left a comment or sent a message in the last week about Kasey. It’s been a week of adjustment, and it would be an understatement to just say that I miss her. It’s unreal how much a dog can become a part of your family. But each day is better, and knowing that she’s no longer sick is a relief to us. So, I really do appreciate the kindness of everyone who has reached out to me. It has meant more than you could know.

But now for some better news, alright?

Way back in the fall of 2006, I was asked by super crafter, Susan Beal, to contribute a tote bag embellishment project to a beading book that she was working on. Today, Bead Simple has finally come out!

Bead Simple

Not surprisingly I decided to do a button tote. My friend’s mother had just given me a heaping bin of some amazing vintage buttons, and I knew I had to use some of them. I had some friends over, and after consulting about what looked best, this is what I came up with:

Circle in the Square Tote

I had no idea what to expect with this book, but it’s so lovely! I’m one of 39 guest designers, and all of the projects look like they’ll be so much fun to make. I love the fact that even though it’s a beading book, there’s a ton of other projects that aren’t exclusively about jewelry. It’s just a really beautiful book all the way through.

Circle in the Square Tote

So tomorrow, to help celebrate the book and my project, I’ll be posting a tutorial of how to make a simple tote. I know there’s a lot of patterns around for bags, but I my goal is that this tutorial will be simple enough for even beginners to figure understand and use. That’s the plan at least!

Thank you all so much for your touching comments and thoughts. We sent our sweet puppy to sleep today after a very hard weekend for her. It was the hardest thing to do, but it was right. I miss her so much already.

Kasey Dog

Kasey Dog

It’s been a hard week or so for me. We found out that our sweet puppy, Kasey, has lymphoma. There’s nothing we can do for her, other than to treat her symptoms, and it has broken my heart.

Sweet Nose

Growing up, my family never owned a dog. Up until Ben and I were married, I wasn’t sure I would ever want a dog! But when we took Kasey in to our lives in 2004, I couldn’t imagine my life without my crazy little dog-person. It’s hard to explain just how much personality Kasey has, but her sense of humor, her smile, and her companionship was never ending to me.

Back in January, we started noticing things. She wouldn’t eat and just wasn’t herself. The vet told us she had the flu. Then it was strep throat. When things just weren’t getting better, the x-ray and the blood tests started to tell us the bad news. This, unfortunately, is what happens with so many golden retrievers that are her age.

It’s hard thinking about what it will be like coming home from work and not having my wagging puppy by my side. For now though, we want to make the rest of her life as comfortable and as happy as possible. Even though I am sad for the inevitable, I have to remember how much joy she has brought to my life in the past 3 and a half years.

Her Favorite Spot

It’s Friday night…what are you doing?

Sewing Room at Night

I’ll be right here, comfy with my Diet Coke and pajamas on, working away until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Have a good weekend, everyone!

My Sewing Machine, Emma

It may seem to some people (most of whom know me in the real world) like I’m a little overly eager about how much I love my sewing machine. I really, REALLY love my simple little Husqvarna Viking. It’s easy to use, small enough to tote around to my friend’s houses and takes a lot of beating up by me. So last month, I finally decided it was time to take Emma (my sewing machine’s name is Emma, it says so right on the front of her so don’t make fun of me) in to be oiled, cleaned, timed, and fixed after the knob selector broke. It had been over a month, and last Monday I finally got her back.

Oh my God….I had no idea how much I had missed her.

Aqua and Brown

We’ve been a little busy…it’s been sewing bliss (yes, I realize I’m nuts).

My Sewing Machine, Emma

Seriously though, I think that I should have probably taken Emma in to be serviced way earlier than I did. I was shocked at how differently it felt to sew on a properly aligned and timed machine. My stitches are the right length, there’s no loops at all on the backside of my work and the needle is no longer hitting the metal faceplate when a stitch is made. I guess I just didn’t realize that it would make that big of a difference to have her worked on.