51. Fabric Bag With Lots of Pockets

I cleared out my fabric stash cupboard this week and found quite a few projects that were started but not finished. Fortunately, not as many as there were at the beginning of the year and not all of them are mine. However, when I tried to give them back to their creators, they were all returned with, ‘oh, you can finish it or make it into something’ Some even denied having anything to do with them. (Could this be next year’s blog?)

This week’s make was a project I started ages ago.  I was going to make a matching cushion for some curtains I had made. You can tell how long ago this project was started by the fact that the curtains were put on freecycle last year and are long gone.

I still like the fabric and as I’d already quilted a huge piece of it, I decided to make it into a bag with lots of pockets.  It might be useful as a diaper/nappy bag or for lugging around crafting bits and pieces. The piece I’ve started with is a rectangle measuring 92cm x 41cm.

So, I finished the quilting off then added a pocket to the inside.  For this I folded a piece of contrasting fabric 25cm x 25cm in half, and sewed it to the inside of the bag along 3 sides. I then made this into 2 pockets by stitching along its height with contrasting thread.

Then I started to make the pockets on the outside.  This turned out to be a bit trial and error as I was making up how to do it as I went along.

For a large front pocket, the yellow one below, I used 2 squares of fabric 25cm x 25cm.  Sewed them right sides together on 3 sides, turned them right side out and sewed the top closed with contrasting stitching.

Then I made a run of pockets around the bottom of the bag using  a strip of the main fabric, 106cm x 40cm. I folded the strip in half lengthwise and placed the open edges along the bottom of the bag.  As this strip is slightly wider than the bag, I pinned it in place so that the pockets stuck out a bit like pouches. Hopefully this will mean that it will hold bulky items. At the front, I made a pleat in the strip in the hope that it might lie flat when nothing is in that pocket.

I then sewed the strip to the main part of the bag attaching it at the sides and bottom.

(The pocket didn’t lie flat so I slipped a piece of elastic into the top fold.)

I made the straps by using two strips of fabric folded over some batting and then stitching along the length.

I also used an old duffle coat toggle to the front and crocheted a strip of yarn as a loop fastening.

I was going to add this to the blog as make number 46 but have decided to give it to one of my lovely daughters so will save this make and publish it after Christmas.  As it is now Friday, I’m going to have to make something very quickly to get it in for this week.

47. Tartan Tote Bag

I’ve finished even closer to the wire with this week’s make.  Well, in truth, it has taken me 2 weeks as I have had to wait while ebay delivered me some brown canvas.

This make came about when I saw the price of some very trendy tote bags in one of the most popular stores for teenagers in the UK. Almost £50 is way too much for a fabric bag in my book so I set about making one.

The tartan in this bag was a remnant that had made its way into my fabric stash after my mum made herself a skirt in the early 70s. Yes, I keep fabric that long! I’m very pleased to find a good use for it at last.

I started by cutting a rectangle of tartan and a similar sized rectangle of lining then sewing them together along what would be the top edge of the bag.

I then cut another piece of tartan and matching piece of lining to make a front pocket.  I attached it at the top of the pocket and then folded it down about 1 cm so that the tartan folds over slightly.  I then sewed almost all the way round the remaining 3 sides, leaving a small gap to turn it right side out.  After turning and pressing, I attached it to the front of the bag with a row of top stitching.

And this is where I had to stop until the brown canvas arrived.

It also gave me some time to figure out how to finish the bag.

I cut two long, rectangular strips of canvas and folded and pressed the long sides in to make the handles.

I then folded them in half and started to topstitch along the edge.

And this is where the fun began…just after I took the photograph above, my trusty Singer sewing machine, that I bought in 1978, decided to quit.  Smoke billowed from its motor but luckily I was able to turn it off before any flames engulfed my precious bag handles.

My mum came to the rescue and has given me her machine to finish it off.  Thank you, mum!

After a bit of bobbin shenanigans and some oiling, the machine worked well (and is much smoother and quieter than mine ever was, I guess sewing machine technology has improved somewhat since 1978).

I attached the canvas to the bottom of the bag.

Sewed the handles on, added a small rectangle of canvas to the front pocket and closed the side seams.

Here it is.

25. Paper bag Made From a Comic

Another busy week at work so I was looking for something very quick and easy as a make and mistakenly thought a paper bag would fit the bill. I had several tries at this, this is the one that worked!  The bag is made just like wrapping a gift but leaving one end open.

I had some lovely heavy paper that was originally a poster that came free with a newspaper.

The picture above shows it cut in half with the top folded over about 1cm and glued down.

I then found a large heavy book and folded the paper around it. Folded over the edge again and glued it down.

Next I tucked in the base just like wrapping a present and glued it closed.  Standing the book upright on top of the glued paper held it all together while it dried.

I then sharpened the creased edges of the bag and  used a two hole punch to make holes for the ribbon on both sides of the bag.

I mentioned at the beginning that it was third time lucky for this make. Here are the first two efforts:

The first one I tried to make following instructions on a you tube video…disaster!

And this one looks good but would hold nothing of any weight at all as the bottom of the bag was made like this:

Cutting slits in each corner and then folding the bottom in.

I will get some card and strengthen this one but not today – I’m all bagged out.

22. Clutch bag

This post is going to be a little different.  I’m starting off with pictures of the end product:


This make started off after I read an article in Making Magazine on how to make a clasp purse.  Ooh, I thought, I have all the fixings for one of these as I had bought 3 small purse frames on Ebay a month or two ago.  They were silver coloured and would have made nice change purses. I say ‘would have’ because I have no idea where I’ve put them.  I have turned the house upside down and can’t find them. Of course, now I had this idea in mind for a make, nothing would stop me.  So I scoured Ebay again and found this seller.  The clasp I chose was bigger than the ones that I’d lost but I thought it would make a nice clutch bag.  It was only £2.77 with free postage but it was being sent from Hong Kong so I was a bit dubious as to whether I’d receive it or not.

I need not have had any doubts.  The clasp arrived within a week and in perfect condition. The next thing was to select the fabric.  I had just finished covering the chairs (see Post 20) and loved the colour of that fabric.  I had a piece left over exactly the right size so decided to use that.  I have no pictures of making the purse because I made it at the twice monthly craft group at our local library and had forgotten to take my camera. (I do have witnesses that I did make it though!).

I started by cutting the fabric out in the rough shape that I wanted. The fold of the fabric was at the bottom of the purse so only had to sew the sides of the purse.  I was quite happy with this and brought it home to search through my fabric stash for a suitable lining. Then it all changed.  A friend unexpectedly gave me a selection of fabric swatches that she had been looking at for curtain fabric. One of the pieces was big enough for the purse and I was actually thinking of starting again but then realised that I could use the new fabric for the outside and use the piece I’d already prepared as the lining.

Piecing the outside to the lining was a tricky process and took me several goes at sewing and unpicking before I got it right. In this particular clasp the fabric is glued into each side of the clasp. I honestly didn’t think that would hold but it has…so far.

7. Quick Quilted Tote Bag

I think I was probably a bit optimistic to think I could get this made in a week but I’ll give it a go.

I started off by choosing the fabric. Actually, if the truth be known, I started the piecing before deciding what it was going to be.

I have had the parrot fabric in my stash for about 20 years and thought it was about time it was put to use.

I’m not going to give any measurements for this (but if you’d like some, add a comment below) as I started with no idea how big the finished bag or whatever it was going to turn into would be.  You can use the same steps to make any size bag.

Start by taking a piece of fabric and folding it so as the selvedges are together. Then fold it again so that the previous fold is also along the selvedge edge.  This will give you a nice straight line.  Next cut some strips.  I nearly said of equal width but on second thoughts, they really don’t have to be.

From the pictures you will see that I use a cutting mat, rotary cutter and long O’lipfa ruler.  If you are making the strips this way then put the selvedge edges (and folded edge) along one of the lines of the cutting mat and you should get pretty straight strips. Or, if you are using scissors, mark the fabric with tailor’s chalk or a light pencil line before you cut.

Do the same with a contrasting piece of fabric so that you end up with about 7 or so long strips of fabric.

Sew them together along the long edges so that you have a piece of fabric like the one above.  This is when I decided it was going to be a bag.

Press the seams.

Next find a piece of lining fabric the same size as the completed strips. I used bump curtain lining, a thick padding that is used to make insulated curtains.  You can use whatever comes to hand, any kind of old wool blanket, soft cotton or you could also use batting from a quilting supplies shop  (this is usually most expensive option).  I’ve pieced the bump (as the off cut I had wasn’t big enough) by butting the edges together and over stitching them.

Place this on the wrong side of your strips of fabric and tack in place.

You will see from this picture that my strips are not exactly even at the ends.  That is ok,  trim them as a next step.  Now cut 2 pieces off the end of the strips and bump that you can use to make the handles.  Mine are about 12cm wide each but make them as wide as you need for the size of bag you are making.  If you are making a small bag you may not even want handles.

Ooops…nearly forgot this piece.  Now do the quilting.  Sew a small running stitch about half a centimetre in from each seam so that there is a rectangle of stitching inside every strip.

Now get another piece of fabric roughly the same size as the strips and bump that will be the lining of the bag. I used the same fabric as one of those I used for strips. Place this right side to the right side of the strips. So in the picture above that shows the bump, the lining would be on the floor right side up with the strips face down on it and the bump on the top.  Stitch around the 2 long sides and one short side but leave 2 gaps on the short side where the handles will fit in. I placed the gaps on mine at the 2nd and 6th strips to make it easy to match them up. Turn right sides out.

I also decided at this point to add an inside pocket as I’m forever losing my phone at the bottom of my bag.  I think with hindsight, it might have been easier to add this before attaching the inside lining but nevermind.

Next step is to make the handles. Fold each strip you cut off earlier so that the long edges are concealed. It doesn’t really matter how you do this. I folded each long edge to the middle and then folded the whole thing in two.  Stitch together along the long edge. Up to this point I’ve done all my stitching by hand but I think to make sure the bag stays together, I’ll machine stitch the rest. (I’ve just had a message from P, who would like to know if she can make the whole thing by hand.  Hmmm…yes, of course.  I think I might run a couple of rows of stitches down the sides to make it v. secure if I was doing it by hand but it depends what size of bag you are planning – one row would probably be enough for a small clutch.)

Put the ends of handle one into the gaps you left on the short edge of the bag that is partially stitched and stitch them firmly into place, closing the gaps as you do so.

On the other short edge of the bag, pin the handle ends in the corresponding position to the first handle and fold over the edges and stitch the opening closed.

Take out any tacking.

Fold the bag so that the handles are together and stitch along both sides.  I machined on the right side so there is a top stitch along both sides.  And here it is: