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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pin the two sides together, right sides together. Line them up as close as possible.
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.
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.
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.
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 the bag right side out through the bottom of the lining.
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.
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.
That’s it! You’ve made a bag….hopefully!