Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Fruits Of Sewing Club: A Tutorial On How To Make A Bag (easy peasy, honest)

I promise these are really easy, once you get the hang of it. They must be because I've made three today and the last one took less than an hour :o)

So, for all of you who love sewing, those who are getting tempted to try it, and those (Mel) who keep sneaking glances at their sewing machine....this is a good one to try.

You won't find the exact pattern in a book because my brilliant sewing teacher June and I cobbled it together this morning out of her vast experience and my need to follow simple instructions!

1. Chose some material. You'll need an outer fabric and an inner lining. Depending on the size of bag you want about 1/2 metre of each should do. I use heavy cotton or curtain making material as the outer.

2.  Fold the outer material lengthways with the right side facing in (so the pattern is on the inside).

3. Place the pattern over the material and pin it in place (the pattern is whatever shape you want it to be- we just drew round a bag I already have that I use for storing wool in. You're welcome to copy it as it should be easy enough to see the shape of it in the pics. The dimensions are: base 50cm, sides up to start of curve 28cm, total length from top to bottom 44cm, height of curved area 17cm, width of curve approx 10cm).

4. Cut the material according to the pattern.

 5. Repeat this process for the liner.

6. If you want curved bottom edges for the finished bag, fold the cut fabric in half and cut a curve round the pointed ends that make up the base of the bag. Repeat for the liner (we used a cellotape roll to get the curve even).

7.  If you've cut the material on the fold, depending on which side has the fold you'll only need to pin two sides of the bag-to-be (my fold is on the left side in the pic below, so I don't need to pin it). If you haven't cut on the fold and have two entirely separate pieces, turn the material right side to right side and pin the sides and the base but NOT the neck and shoulders of what will be the handle area (leave the curved part unpinned as per the pic below)

8. Sew the pinned areas (the sides and base). I use a 1cm seam allowance and then either overlock or use zigzag stitch to strengthen it.. 

9. Repeat the pinning and sewing for the lining material. Once you've done that, place what will be the outer bag inside the inner or lining bag, right side to right side and pin the shoulder (curved) areas together but leave the top (what will become the handle area) unstitched as per the pics.

10. Now for the alchemy. Pull the bag through the open neck part and rearrange so the lining is on the inside and the outer material is on the outside. You'll have no rough hems or untidy seams on show as a result of doing it this way.

11. The next job is to iron the seams flat and crisp around the curved shoulder part of the bag. This gives them a sharp edge for when the bag is finished.

12. Now you're ready to attach the handles. I like bamboo but you can use anything provided it is round. It's worth checking charity shops for old bags as they're often cheaper than buying handles from craft stores. I'm going to try soaking some Willow in hot water, curving it and letting it dry as that it supposed to work well too. In the meantime, I found these handles on an ancient hessian bag that has definitely seen better days and was hiding in the dark of the cupboard so I cut them off, chucked the old bag and attached them to the new one. Recycling is good, eh?

13. Before you attach the handles, you'll need to gather the fabric that will go round them into even pleats. Here is the handle fabric unpleated.

And here it is with the pleats in and pinned in to place. You can make them whatever size you like, simply fold the material as you want it (basically so it fits the handle) and pin in place, remembering to only pin through the top layer of fabric.

14. Do the same for the lining side. I only gathered two pleats for the lining because that section isn't on show. Again, remember to only pin through one layer of material, as per the second pic down. Repeat for both the handles.

15. Now you need to run a simple stitch line through the pleats to hold them in place.

16. Once you've stitched the pleats in you can lose the pins.

17. Now, lay a handle over the material.

18. Fold the material over the handle, leaving enough to double fold it so you can tuck the raw edge out of sight.

19. Pin in place.

20. Then sew the folded over fabric onto the main body of the bag so the handle is secure. Repeat for the other handle.

22. And that's it! A new bag done and dusted in less than an hour :o)

I'm in love with these and will be making them for all my family for Christmas :o)
They make great sewing bags, or knitting bags for keeping balls of wool in, or just as simple hand bags or shopping bags. You can vary them by making the pattern size bigger and turn them into a sizeable shopper or an overnight bag.

Do let me know if you decide to give them a go, or if there's anything in the instructions that needs clarifying. 

I'll leave you with some garden and doggy shots, as usual, and wish you all a pleasant evening.


Happy Sewing!

CT :o)


  1. You've made three today?? I think I'll need at least a week! I love the doggy material.:-)

    1. I promise they really aren't hard to do. I'm pretending the dogs on the material are Westies and JRs (but I think they are Scotties really!) xx

  2. Great sewing inspiration !
    I think I see Christmas gifts here.
    Love love love the Square Dog material.
    I have some wonderful Japanese material that I bought on my last trip to make purses out of. I need to have a shoulder bag but I think
    I could figure that out.
    You have the most beautiful flower photos and best of all your Gud Dugs !

    cheers, parsnip

    1. I thought you might like the material :o) It's by Fryetts, heavy duty cotton. Perfect for Watson and thehamish x

    2. My mistake, it's by Clarke & Clarke :o)

  3. One day I will be brave enough to tackle some sewing. In the meantime, I'll keep crocheting! x

    1. Crocheting is great, but I seem to have forgotten how to do it! Knitting is my winter alternative :o) xx

  4. Bag looks great, good size for getting all your stuff in...
    Amanda xx

    1. I'm really chuffed with how well they've turned out- really not hard to make at all xx

  5. You're on a roll! It's lovely, and you make it sound so easy. Lovely doggy fabric, I'm sure those around you appreciate it. CJ xx

  6. A lovely make, I have some handles & ahem plenty of fabric, I shall have a dabble when my new machine arrives x

    1. What sort of machine is it? xx

    2. Janome SMD4000. It's exclusive to Sewing Machines Direct which is fairly local to us. Mike drove down as I'm working & it's being delivered to my mums tomorrow as we are at Robs graduation. It has lots of scary features, very excited though x

    3. I think I'll get a Janome when Phyllis nears retirement age. Be very interested to hear how you get on with it. Sooo exciting to be getting a new one! xx

  7. Hey CT,
    You do indeed make it look and sound so easy. I'm still not brave enough to have a go though ;)) Maybe that will be my winter Everest; learning to craft. I like the idea of settling down on those dark winter nights with a project on the go, but my go to mode of relaxation is a book.
    Oh and I want to tell you how much I adored your post 'Coming Home' I wasn't able to comment at the time, but it has stayed with me.
    Leanne xx

    1. Thanks my dear- am glad you liked it xx

  8. You are such a whizz at sewing and your wildflower patch looks lovely. Mine at the allotment sown with Countryfile seeds plus extra poppies and cosmos (not yet flowering) looks very similar. And not only does it look pretty it has not been watered at all, which is a good thing as I'm worn out watering everthing else. Still haven't used any tap water on the garden at home and I'm wondering how much longer I can hold out. I was given one pond snail today, so I'm wondering if I should try and acquire a few more, for balance.

    1. I'm a beginner at sewing really- just got a great teacher who encourages us not to feel foolish if things don't work and she has fantastic short cuts that work out well too :o)

      Your wildflower garden sounds lovely- you've done very well not to need tap water. We have butts everywhere but run out fast. The garden much prefers rain water. One pond snail will probably turn into hundreds quite quickly- I know ours did!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x