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.
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.