With my renewed enthusiasm for creating it is probably time to start sharing some of the useful things I find on the internet with you all too. This week it is free patterns for crocheted baskets. I love working with thick repurposed t-shirt yarn – it works up so quickly so you get almost instant satisfaction for your efforts. I have to admit that so far my attempts at making my own yarn haven’t been great, but I will keep persevering, and in the meantime have found some great commercially produced yarn to practise with. I made these two baskets (without a pattern) to hold all the wool that was accumulating around my lounge room! I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
I also have crocheted baskets that hang in the mudroom to hold hats and gloves, in bedrooms to hold assorted things on desks, and have a small basket made of left over pieces of yarn that I use to collect eggs in each morning! These baskets are really versatile!
Here are links to a great range of patterns I found in my searching on the internet for inspiration:
Hello! Today my Handmade Project – How to make an appliqued cushion cover is being used to launch the new series of Handmade Projects on the Handmade Canberra website! I designed this project thinking that it would be a great Mother’s Day present. But as my Mum is a reader of this blog, I might need to go back to the drawing board!
If you make any cushions using the pattern I would love it if you tagged me if you post them on Instagram – #alittlebirdmademe, so that I can enjoy your efforts!
Last year I had my first pattern published in a magazine called ‘Love Sewing Australia’. I decided that, with the cooler weather approaching, it was time to share it with you. The pattern is for a tote bag with a matching Yarn bag (to carry wool for knitting or crochet projects) but can be adapted to many uses.
For those of you who don’t know the story, my grandmother, Oma, is now 99 years old. Last year, when she was turning 98, she asked if I could make her a new bag that she could use to carry her glasses, her water bottle, her cushion (she is tiny!) and other important things. Her instructions were that the bag was not to be an ‘old lady bag’. I mused over this for a while, then made this bag for her.
The original Oma bag
My Oma spent many hours teaching me to sew, to embroider, and to enjoy other handcrafts when I was young, so dedicating this pattern to her was a small way of showing her how grateful I am that she contributed to my love of making!
My beautiful grandmother, Oma, on her 99th birthday.
This project shows you how to upcycle that old worn out pair of jeans into a gorgeous bag that you can use for going to the office, on a weekend adventure, or to the shops. The accessory yarn bag is perfect for knitting or crocheting on the go, with your yarn accessible but protected from dust and dirt, and from escaping and rolling across the floor of the bus, train, classroom or office.
Using the pockets of your jeans as a feature on the outside of your yarn bag adds a useful outer pocket that can also hold your phone, crochet hooks or a small pair of scissors.
The seam allowances in this project are 0.5cm. If you are more comfortable with wider seam allowances the project will still work, as long as you are consistent and use the same seam allowance on all seams.
Fusible fleece is often sold without instructions on how to attach it. To attach your fleece, heat your iron to the temperature appropriate for the fabric that you are attaching the fleece to. Lay the fleece on the ironing board, with the glue dots facing up, then lay the fabric you are attaching on top of the fleece, covering the fleece completely, with the right side of the fabric facing up. Lay a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top of the two layers and using your iron, begin in the middle of the piece and iron out towards the corners using a slow steady motion. You will need to repeat this a couple of times to ensure that the fleece has adhered well. Do not rest the iron in one spot for too long as you may scorch your fabric. Don’t let the fleece touch your iron as it will make a sticky mess of your iron plate. Let it cool before sewing the now fused fleece and fabric.
1 pair denim jeans, or 0.5m of denim, canvas or decorator weight fabric
0.25 m feature fabric (quilting cotton is used here)
0.5m quilting cotton, homespun or broadcloth
36cm Vilene H640 fusible fleece
A zip that is at least 30cm long.
A piece of stiff interfacing 9cm x 28cm
Sewing Machine (Zip foot optional)
A rotary cutter and mat is useful but not essential.
Oma Tote – Base 25cm wide x 10cm deep. Bag 30 cm long x 34 cm wide. Straps 54cm long x 4cm wide.
Yarn Bag – 23cm x 23cm
Repurposing Denim jeans
To prepare your denim jeans for repurposing, cut the inner leg seam on both legs, then up the front centre seam and around the zip. This will enable you to lay your fabric out flat and assess which pieces are most suitable for use. Check wear around knees, the seat, and the inner thigh. This does not mean that you can’t use the fabric, but you may need to add reinforcing with fusible interfacing.
If your fabric has a stretch to it, it is useful to have the grain across the width of the pieces you cut to increase stability.
Bottom – 35.5cm x 12.5cm (2)
Top – 35.5cm x 6.5cm (2)
Straps –9cm x 50cm (2)
Internal pockets 20cm x 25cm (1) and 10cm x 25cm (1).
Base – 18cm x 28cm (1)
Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1) (NB. I included the back pocket of the jeans within the square which adds both a feature, and a useful pocket to the outside of the yarn carrier.)
Lining cotton – 35.5cm x 35.5cm (2)
Yarn bag lining – 24cm x 24cm (2). (NB you may need to join some fabric together in order to create the lining pieces but this will not affect the bag.)
Bag – 35.5cm x 19cm (2)
Yarn bag – 24cm x 24cm (1)
Fusible fleece interfacing
Bag – 34 cm x 34 cm (2)
General Instructions – Yarn Bag
This is a pouch that will carry two balls/skeins of yarn with openings to allow you to use the yarn while protecting it from dust, dirt etc. A bag like this means that you can crochet or knit wherever it suits you!
1. The first step is to insert your zip. A zip foot is useful for this, but not necessary. Take your square of denim and place it face down on top of the zip so that the top edge of the fabric lines up with the top edge of the zip. The right side of the zip and the right side of the fabric will be facing each other. Ensure that the zip ends overhang the fabric on each side. Then take one piece of your lining fabric and place it on the other side of the zip, with the right side facing the right side of the denim. This is often described as a zip sandwich. Pin the three pieces together and then stitch along the top edge 0.5cm from the edge.
The Zip sandwich – denim, zip and lining
Flip the fabric back so that the right side of the denim is now facing up and the right side of the lining is facing down. Repeat the same step with the feature fabric and the lining fabric on the other side of the zip, making sure that the sides of the pieces line up with the fabric already attached to the zip.
Using an iron press the top and bottom pieces so that they sit flat. By topstitching along the edge of the seam, the lining won’t get caught in the zip when you are using the bag. To do this measure 2.5cm from the edge of the fabric, and then top-stitch a line along the edge of the seam and stop 2.5cm from the other end. (If you sew across the whole edge of the zip you will not be able to create neat corners when you put the sides of the bag together.) Repeat this on the other side of the zip, matching the start and finish points.
Now you will create the yarn feeding holes in your bag. Measure and mark with chalk or a sewing marker two points on the lining on the feature fabric side of the bag that are 7.5cm from each edge, and 5cm from the zip and fabric seam. These are the starting points for your buttonholes. Using your preferred technique for making a button hole, make two buttonholes that start at those points and are 1.5cm long.
In order to assemble the yarn bag you should open the zipper at least half way so that the zip pull is in the middle of the zip. Then put the right sides of the lining together and match up the edges, and the right sides of the outer fabric together and match up their edges. This won’t look nice and flat and neat due to the buttonholes, but is still very manageable given the amount of fabric involved. The teeth of the zip should be facing towards the outer fabric when you are pinning it in place.
You will leave a gap in the side of the lining to turn the bag in the right way, so start your seam about 5 cm below the zip on the lining, and sew around the edge of the pouch, until you reach the bottom of the same side of the lining. When you are sewing across the seam and zip where the lining and the outer fabrics join, you will need to open the edges of the fabric up a bit so that instead of sewing in a straight line you feel as if you are sewing a curve. This is to compensate for the top stitching that you did earlier along the zip.
Once you have sewn the edges of the bag, clip the corners, and then clip the excess fabric around the zip, so that the long ends are cut off and the bulk of the fabric next to the seam is removed. Be careful not to cut the stitching and consider applying an extra row of stitching as reinforcement here.
Then turn your bag inside out, or outside in, so that the outer fabric is facing out and the lining is tucked in the bag. It will be a little wriggly due to the buttonholes, but it will happen without too much commotion. Make sure that your corners are pushed out properly, and ensure that your zip corners are pushed up properly. A chopstick is very handy for both operations. Then either handstitch the side seam in the yarn bag closed or use your machine to stitch a line to close it.
You can now place your yarn in the bag, with the ends poking out through the buttonholes, so that you can use your yarn without the balls rolling away across the floor of the train, bus or lounge that you are in. If you are likely to use more than two colours at a time you could place a third buttonhole in the bag to allow for three colours.
General Instructions – Oma Tote
The first step in creating your tote is to piece together the fabric for the outside of the bag. Pin the long edge of one bottom piece of denim (35.5cm x 12.5cm) to the long edge of a piece of the feature fabric (35.5cm x19cm) with the right sides together. Sew a 0.5 cm seam along this edge then press the seam down towards the denim piece, and top stitch along the denim piece about 0.5cm from the seam. You can choose to use a coloured thread to make a feature of the stitching, and may like to add a second line of stitching 1 cm parallel to the first line to give it a nice finish. I used white thread here, so it blends into the denim and can only be seen subtly.
Then pin the long edge of the top piece of denim (35.5cm x 6.5cm) to the long edge of the feature fabric with the right sides together and sew them together with a 0.5 cm seam. Again, press the seam towards the denim piece and top stitch on the denim 0.5 cm from the seam.
Repeat this with the denim and feature fabric for the other side of the bag.
You now have two pieces measuring 35.5cm x 35.5cm. . Place your squares of fusible fleece (34cm x 34cm) onto the wrong side of each piece, and apply following the manufacturer’s instructions. My tip on the way to attach the fleece is that when you are preparing the fabric and fleece for ironing, you should check that the fleece is on the bottom, with the glue dots facing up, then the fabric is on top, with the wrong side facing the fleece, and then a damp pressing cloth is placed over the top. This will help to ensure that the fleece is well adhered to the fabric. The fleece is smaller than the outer piece to reduce the bulk of your seams.
Once the fleece is attached, place these two pieces together with their right sides facing each other, and match the seams on each side and pin them in place. Sew from the top edge of the top denim down the side, across the bottom and back up the other side with a 0.5 cm seam.
Now you are going to make the corners of the bag. With the fleece side still facing out, fold the bottom corner of the bag so that the bottom seam and the side seam are lined up over each other, and the sides of the bag are pushed out into a triangle shape. Pin this corner in place. Measure a point 4cm (1.5 inches)from the point of the corner along the seam, and then mark a line across the bag that should measure 8cm (3 inches). Repeat this with the remaining corner and then sew a seam, reinforcing with a second row of stitches, along the marked line. Trim the excess fabric so that a seam allowance of about 1cm is left.
This is the time to make and insert the base of the bag. Adding a base gives your bag some stability, without too much rigidity. Take your base piece of denim and fold it in half width wise so that you have a piece 9cm x 28cm. Insert your stiff interfacing inside the folded piece and either fuse it, or simply sew it in place. I used a fusible interfacing, and then zigzagged around the edges to hold everything in place.
To insert the base line it up along the base of your bag so that the ends slightly overlap your corner seams. Attach the base to one corner of the bag by sewing through the existing corner seam, and the base so that the base is connected at the corner of the bag. Then, ensuring that you have the base flush with the bottom of the bag, repeat the same method on the other side of the bag. Trim away the excess from both the base and the seam allowance of the corner seams, and then turn your bag so that the outer fabric is facing out. Using your fingers crease the edges of your corners so that the base sits neatly in the bottom of the bag.
To make the straps fold each piece with the right sides together across it’s width so that you have two pieces that are 4cm x 50cm. Stitch along the long edge of each piece with a 0.5cm seam, then iron the seam allowance open. Turn the straps inside out and press them so that the seam is along the middle of the strap. Top stitch along each side of the strap 0.5cm from the edge, and, if you are using a feature colour thread, add a second row of stitching to create a nice finish.
At the top of the bag use pins to mark a spot 10cm from each edge of the bag so that you have two spots on each side of the bag. Take one strap and pin it to the top edge of one side of the bag so that the seam of the strap is facing out, and the end of the strap is extending slightly past the top of the bag. The strap will appear to be upside down. Ensuring that the strap is not twisted (which is where having the seam to follow is useful) pin the end of the strap to the second point on that side of the bag in the same way as the first. Repeat this on the other side of the bag, then stitch the straps in place just under 0.5cm from the top edge of the bag.
In order to prepare the lining you need to first prepare your inner pockets. Take the piece of denim that you have cut to be 20cm x 25cm and fold in half with right sides together, so that it measures 20cm x 12.5cm. Sew around the three edges of the rectangle, leaving a gap of about 10 cm to enable turning in the right way. Clip the corners, turn it inside out, and press the seams so that the opening seam is tucked inside the pocket. Take one piece of the lining fabric, and pin the pocket to the lining so that the centre of the pocket aligns with the centre of the fabric, 8cm from the top of the lining piece. Sew the three side of the pocket to the lining, adding some reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket on both side. Sew a line from the bottom to the top of the pocket half way across the pocket, adding the reinforcing stitches at the top of the pocket.
The second pocket is to assist with holding knitting needles. Take the piece of denim that you cut to be 10cm x 25cm, fold in half so that it measures 5 cm x 25cm and, using the same method as the first pocket, attach the pocket to the second piece of lining fabric. I attached mine so that it was in the centre of the bag, 5cm from the top. You may decide to have the pocket more to the side so that long needles don’t interfere with the straps. In that case you could attach it 5cm from the top, and 7cm from the side.
With the two right sides of the lining facing each other, sew down one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Using the same technique as the outer bag create the corner of the bag to measure 8cm across.
To assemble the bag place the outer bag inside the lining, so that the right sides of the fabric are facing each, the tops of the two pieces are aligned, and the side seams of the outer and inner bags are aligned. After pinning the two pieces together sew around the top edge of the bag 0.5cm from the edge, leaving a gap between the two straps on one side in order to be able to turn the bag inside out. Sew an extra row or two of stitching over each strap to reinforce these points. Turn the bag inside out, tuck the lining inside the bag, fold the edges of the opening inside the seam and press the seam. Finish the bag by top stitching around the edge of the bag to close the gap and create a neat finish to the bag. Congratulations!!
I would love to see any bags that you make using this pattern – tagging me on Instgram is a great way to share your photos! (@alittlebirdmademe).
Now I am off to sit in front of the fire and warm my toes for a while!
In the process of making the crocheted floor rug for my daughters’ room from recycled t-shirt yarn (also known as ‘tarn’ and by the brand name ‘zpagetti’) I found a pile of patterns to draw inspiration from. I am now slightly stalled in the process of making a rug for my son’s room, so hope that by revisiting those tutorials to share with you I might kick start myself back into action!
While there are many who declare that Valentine’s Day is ‘too commercial’ , I have a soft spot for the day. Not because I receive lots of hearts and flowers and cards. In fact quite the opposite. It is my eldest chick’s birthday and her father declared that this meant that we couldn’t possibly celebrate Valentine’s Day as it would detract from her special day (!!) With her birthday as the focus, I have a range of different heart shaped cake tins collected at garage sales etc and she loves her heart shaped cake each year. So it is a special day for me. However I also like the concept that there is a day that allows people who love each other to be reminded that saying it to the person they love, or treating the person they love to a present, is a good thing. Not everyone has a relationship that involves daily gestures of love and romance, so a bit of an annual prompt can’t be a bad thing!
Before getting too far into a debate that I don’t want to have, instead I bring you a small collection of ideas for crafts that you can do to celebrate Valentine’s Day with something you have made with love. The great thing about many of these tutorials is that they can also be used for other celebrations or occasions by simply changing the materials, or the colours.
The first is a paper garland of hearts. It was originally made as a fourth of July garland but could really be used for any celebration – and using colours that you and your special someone love would make it a great Valentine’s Day celebration.
The next is a delightful idea to make your own dice, and to use hearts instead of ‘dots’. The tutorial, on the website Design Sponge also has ideas on the puns you can use when presenting the dice as a present!
I discovered these gorgeous little Amurigami crochet hearts on the site RoxyCraft – their tag line is ‘patterns that don’t suck’. I love it! The potential to make these for all sorts of occasions is huge – but as a Valentine’s Day crochet pattern I think they are a winner!
Vanessa at V and Co has a beautiful collection of tutorials on her site, but it was this gorgeous ruffled heart pillow that caught my eye – a combination of reverse appliqué and ruffles to make a beautiful pillow. (And of course, you could adapt it to other occasions by using different shapes for the cut out!)
(While you are there have a look at her patterns – her heart quilt is beautiful!)
A group of bloggers created a linkup party last year with 14 days of love and on day 4 JoJo and Eloise provided a tutorial for making a simple heart shaped pouch. A lovely simple gift to make, with many uses, including as a way of presenting another gift! From this tutorial you can click through to the other Valentine themed ideas from that collection.
Beautiful free printables to create your own Valentine’s cards or gifts can be found at the gorgeous blog Design is Yay where Wita has made some shabby chic money envelopes that cover both Chinese New Year (today!!) and Valentines Day.
Your calendar is not wrong. Today is not Friday. However….my submission to the Handmade Holiday series on Sew Mama Sew – Eco-friendly Gifts– is on their site today, so I thought it would be useful to have a complementary list to celebrate this event!
Looking after the environment, reducing waste, re-purposing and re-cycling, being aware of our eco-system and, as my boy says, looking after nature, are all things that are important in this nest. In fact, for most of my friends and family, these things are automatic these days, and form part of our everyday life. We have a water-tank, raise chickens, compost, grow vegies (with variable success), recycle, etc. Being able to make gifts that incorporate these principles is great – both from an ethical point of view, but also from a budgetary one! In my search for eco-friendly gift ideas for my submission to Sew Mama Sew I found wonderful ideas. Not all of them could be published on their site, so today I provide you with the supplementary list of ideas – and hopefully some inspiration for other ways of making eco-friendly gifts, decorations and having a cleaner, greener Christmas!
Lacy at Every Day is a New Day has a tutorial for making Resuable-washable paper towel. I love this concept. One step past having a pile of cloths to use for spills – making a roll that is convenient to ‘tear off’ and use instead of paper towel is a great gift for the eco-friendly domestic goddess in your life!
Vicky Meyers has a blog full of wonderful ideas about how to make recycled bags, however it was the idea of a Recycled denim Foot Muff that caught my attention. A great gift for the hipster in your life!
Of course denim can be used to make many wonderful re-purposed gifts. This denim bag from Art Bar is another great idea.
Fabrics from favourite clothes, or sheets can also be re-purposed into pillow covers. The Creative Place has a great tutorial for making a Repurposed Clothes College Pillow.
The tutorial from Happy Hour Projects – Resuable lined snack baggies is a great present for children and parents alike. It shows you how to use plastic shopping bags to make a plastic liner for a snack bag, so it is doubly eco in my books – reducing plastic bag waste in landfill, and providing an alternative to using more plastic bags and wrap! Gifting it with some homemade treats inside would be a great eco-gift!!
Another way of using up plastic shopping bags is to re-purpose them into ‘plarn’ – plastic yarn – and then crochet something new from them! At Sustainable Baby Steps there is a great tutorial on how to do this!
The number of tutorials for re-using old woollen jumpers (sweaters) is large. Here is one with a bit of a difference – just great for an eco-baby – Felt Block Rattle – My Poppet
On the same site there is a great tutorial for making your own Dress Up Girl.
Excess CD’s can be used to make very pretty coasters, using this tutorial from Crafts by Amanda
Other gift ideas that are eco-friendly, are a bit like the non-paper paper towel at the top of this list. Making things that replace disposable objects is always good for the environment. One of my favourite things to make for use around the home is crocheted dish cloths. I use bamboo yarn as it is super absorbant. When you have used a cloth for the day, its just goes in the wash and comes up fresh again. One of my wise friends has 7 in 7 different colours – one for each day of the week. A gift like that would be a beautiful thing to make for an eco-conscious friend or family member. I have used this tutorial from Bubblegirl – dishcloth pattern with great success but there are a plethora of patterns out there to use (maybe I will put my collection into another list one day!).
In addition to the market bag tutorial linked on my Sew Mama Sew post, there are, of course, a list of tutorials for market bags here on this site that I prepared a few months ago! Where I live the shops charge you for providing a shopping bag, so we carry our own fabric bags instead. It has reduced landfill and makes us all think twice about using plastic bags. They make great presents!
When it comes to wrapping gifts, the possibilities for being eco-friendly are endless! I was reminded recently of different ways of wrapping presents that I had employed for gifts about 20 years ago. The fact that one of the recipients still remembered and treasured the effort I had gone to in making her gifts so special gave me great joy. Some of the ideas I used included brown paper with hand drawn and painted decorations, calico fabric parcels tied with string, handpainted or stamped paper, etc. If I had access to these links back then, who knows what else I would have done!
Despite my intentions to prepare and post tutorials throughout the year, it has taken me quite a few months to actually sit down and write one up. I decided that if I was going to prepare one, it had to be for a bag that I like to make, and that I hadn’t already seen a tutorial for. So here we have my design for a cross body bag. I love the versatility of these bags – great for slinging across your body when you are travelling, walking, shopping, or for having over your shoulder when you are feeling a bit more dressed up and business like! The options for mixing and matching fabrics are endless – you can bling it up, or use recycled jeans, patchwork it, or have classy linen in muted tones. As usual, the only limits are your imagination!
The qualifiers that I feel compelled to include up front include that the photos were taken at night with dodgy lighting, and then in the day with great natural light, so they aren’t terribly consistent in their quality. Also, I made a couple of mistakes along the way – so I share those with you, and how I fixed them up. The lesson – don’t copy me – learn from my trial and error!! The pattern includes instructions for an outer pocket and an inner pocket – but of course I didn’t follow these instructions in making the bag in the photos, so the outer pocket photo is from a different bag, and the inner pocket is different dimensions….but you will get the drift – I promise!
Final dimensions – 9″ wide, 9″ long and 2″ deep.
Materials (in each case slightly more than you will need) (NB Edited to correct fabric requirements on 10 Jan 2014) 1/2 yard outer cotton 1/2 yard of inner cotton 1/2 yard fusible fleece (I like Vilene H604 as it is thicker and gives better body) A magnetic snap (14mm or 18mm) 1 1/2 inch tri-glide strap adjustor and matching rectangle ring Strong interfacing – 2 pieces approx. 2″ square (support for the magnetic snap)
Cutting pieces Outer cotton Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″ Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ Adjustable Strap – 2 x (1) 2″ x 10 1/2 plus 2 x (2) 2″ x 44″ (Width of fabric). (2 pieces – your choice whether you make it all from the outer fabric or a side from the inner) Pocket – 5″ x 10″
Inner cotton Body – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 21″ Flap – rectangle 10 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ Pocket – 2 x 8″ x 5″ (In these photos I used the outer fabric for the inner pocket – it provides a nice contrast, and highlights the process at the same time!)
Fleece (designed to be a bit smaller than the fabric to allow for tidy seams) Body – rectangle 10 ” x 20 1/2″ Flap – rectangle 10 ” x 8″ Adjustable Strap 1 1/2″ x 10 1/2 plus 1 1/2″ x 44″
Notes on fabric It is up to you whether you use all the same fabric for the inner and outer, or whether you mix it up and use the lining fabric for the outside pocket and the outer fabric for the inner pocket, whether you have a combination of fabrics on the strap, or just one. This one pattern can look very different through using very different fabrics. It is also a great pattern for embellishing with applique on the flap. I have made it using drill cotton, quilting cotton, decorator weight cotton, duck cloth and combinations of all of the above! Using the fusible fleece gives it body and form, even when it is lightweight fabric.
If you want to make a standard strap, without the adjustable slides, then just use the 44″ width, without the shorter piece. The magnetic snap is optional – but I find it useful to be able to close the bag for a bit of added security.
In this pattern the orange Chinoiserie (by Anna Griffin) is the outer, and the green millefiori (by Kaffe Fassett) is in the inner.
Instructions 1. Fuse the interface (the 2″ x2″ pieces) to the outer body piece, and the inner flap piece. This interfacing is for providing support to the magnetic snap.
For the outer body piece, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, so that it covers the point 7″ from the top of the piece (the top is the 10 1/2′ width), and half way across. (I usually just fold it length wise to find the middle, then put the piece of interfacing across the half way mark.
For the inner flap, the interfacing will be attached to the wrong side of the fabric, 9″ from the top of the flap (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!), and half way across. (The flap is 8 1/2″ wide and 10 1/2″ long). When determining which is the ‘top’ of the flap, consider the direction of any pattern – the snap will be at the bottom of the flap, so at the bottom of any directional print.
2. Fuse fleece to wrong side of outer fabric – body of the bag, the flap, and the strap. The fleece will cover the piece of interfacing that you have attached to the wrong side of the outer body.
3. Sew the strap. Place the wrong sides of the two short pieces together, and sew down either side with a 1/4″ seam.
Turn inside out. Press the strap flat, with the seams flat, and top-stitch along both sides approximately 3/8″ from the edge. If you want to, you can stitch another row parallel to this, about the same distance in. I usually turn the strap by attaching a safety pin and feeding it through the inside of the tube. It can be a bit tight, but is manageable. Repeat with the long strap pieces.
4. To assemble the strap, fold the short piece in half, with the fabric that you want on the outer facing out. Slide the rectangle ring along the strap to the fold mark,
then sew the ring in place securely, about 1/2″ away from the ring. (I normally use the edge of the presser foot as the guide.)
Take the long piece of the strap, and fold it over the middle bar of the tri-glide buckle, and sew it down, tucking the raw end of the strap under to make it neat. I normally sew a bit of reinforcing at this point.
Then take the other end of the long strap, and slide it through the d-ring on the short piece, then back through the tri-glide buckle, going over the fabric attached to it.
You now have your strap in one piece. If my pictures and description aren’t great then this tutorial by Nicole M Design is very helpful!
5. The next step is to make your pockets. For the outer pocket, fold the piece in half with the right sides together, so that you now have a 5″ square. Sew along three sides, leaving a gap of about 3″ on one side, with a 1/4″ seam. (The pocket in the photos is not the same dimensions, but the technique is the same.)
Snip the corners carefully, then turn it inside out and press the seams flat. Top stitch along the top of the pocket about 3/8″ from the edge. (With a second line parallel to give it a nice finish if you wish.)
This pocket will be attached to the rear of the bag, so you will be measuring from the opposite end that you measured for the interfacing. I normally fold the pocket in half, and fold the body piece in half, so that I can line up the middle of the bag with the middle of the pocket. Then measure 2 ” from the top of the bag, and, with the middle’s lined up, pin the pocket to the right side of the fabric. Stitch along the side, across the bottom and back up the other side, making sure that you catch the seam that has been left open for the turning. I normally try for about 3/8″ topstitching here too – and reinforce the tops of the pocket with a bit of extra stitching. (I do love the reverse button on my machine for this!)
I didn’t put a pocket on the bag I was making for the tutorial – but here is a photo of one I prepared earlier!
6. For the inner pocket the process if similar. Put the two pieces together with the right sides together, and stich around all four sides, again leaving a gap for turning it out the right way. Carefully clip the corners without cutting the stitches, then turn it out, and iron the seams flat. Top stich along the top of the pocket and then attach it to the inner body of the bag. Again I like to match the middle by folding the pocket and the bag and then lining them up, 2 1/2″ from the top of the inner piece.
Stitch down the side, along the bottom and up the other side, again reinforcing the stitching at the beginning of the stitching and the end. Then stich a line from the bottom of the pocket to the top at the mid point mark, reinforcing the stitching at the top and bottom. This then gives you two 4″ pockets which are the right size for slipping a phone into, or keys, etc. (In this bag my piece was smaller than 8″ wide, because I was trying to use up pieces that I had already cut, so the pockets are 4″ and 3″.)
7. Assemble the flap. If you want to embellish your flap, this is the time. Some ideas are to use a solid fabric that contrasts or compliments your main fabric, or to use the same fabric as your main fabric for the body of the flap, and then applique on to it. Once this is done, then you will create the curve at the bottom of the flap. To do this place the two flap pieces with their right sides together. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, and then mark a spot 2″ from the bottom outer corner up the side and 2″ along the bottom. Using chalk draw a curve between these two points (there is no such thing as a wrong curve with an area this small), then cut it through the four layers of fabric.
8. Before you sew the flap together you need to insert your magnetic snap. To do this, fold, or measure to determine the middle of the flap, and mark a spot 9″ from the top of the bag (or 1 1/2″ from the bottom!)
Then take the round flat piece of metal that comes with the snap, and centre the middle hole over your mark. Mark the two long pieces with pencil or chalk, then cut those two long marks with a seam ripper, or a box-cutter with a sharp blade. Then place the non-magnetic piece of the snap on the right side of the fabric and pass the two prongs through the two cuts.
On the reverse side now place the metal guide over the prongs, and then bend the prongs down into the centre of the snap as flat as you can.
9. Then place your inner and outer flap pieces, right side together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4″ seam. Don’t sew across the top of the flap. Clip the edges of the curve, without clipping the seam, then turn it inside out, and iron it flat, making sure that the seams are properly pushed out. (I have a lovely enamel blue chopstick that I use for this purpose – part of a sushi set my sister gave me years ago!).
Then top stich around the edge about 3/8″ from the edge. Again, you can do a second row parallel in order to give it a nice finish.
10. Next is putting together the bag inner. Fold the inner body piece in half width wise, with the right sides together, so that you end up with a square of 10 1/2″ by 10 1/2″. Sew up the two sides, using a 1/4″ seam. If you have an overlocker (serger) this is a good time to use it to finish off the seams for some extra stability.
11. Then you are going to square off the base of the bag. To do this, fold the side seam of the bag so that it lies on top of the fold across the bottom of the bag. This will leave you with a triangle from the corner of the bag.
(This is the outer bag in the photo – because I forgot to photograph the inner!)
Measure, pin and mark the point where this triangle is 2″ wide, with the 1″ mark falling on the side seam. Repeat for the other corner. Then sew across the mark. Clip the corner off about 1/2″ from the seam.
12. Before assembling the outer body of the bag, you need to insert the other half of the magnetic snap. Following the same procedure as you used for the flap, mark the spot 7″ from the top of the bag. (If you like to have a bit more room to fill your bag a bit more, then you could move it up to 6 1/2″.) This time you are cutting through the fused fleece, the interfacing, and the fabric, and inserting the magnetic half of the snap.
13. Then fold the outer body piece in half, right sides together, and sew up the two sides, with a 1/4″ seam. Then square off the two bottom corners using the same method as the inner, and measuring 2″ wide.
14. Once this is done, turn the outer part of the bag so that the right side is facing out. (Starting to take shape isn’t it?!)
Now is the time to attach that strap, so take one end and pin it so that it sits long the outside of the side seam of the bag, and reaches just over the top of the bag’s top edge. The right side of the strap should be facing the right side of the bag. That means that the top of the tri-glide buckle will be facing in towards the bag.
Sew across the top of the strap about 3/8″ from the edge to secure it to the bag. Then, making sure that the strap isn’t twisted, sew the other side of the strap to the other side of the bag.
15. Next up is the flap. Line it up so that the top of the flap sits next to the top of the bag, with the right sides facing each other. The flap should fill the gap between the two straps, and should be sitting on the opposite side of the bag to the side with the snap, and over the external pocket if you added one. Pin it in place then stitch along the edge of the point where they join, about 3/8″ from the edge. (This is to hold it in place and then you will stitch over it again a couple more times. The main thing here is to remember that the next seam needs to be wider than whatever you have used here, so that your initial holding stitch doesn’t show.)
16. Now comes the magical part where the bits come together and turn into something greater than the whole of their parts! (So poetic!) Put the outer of the bag inside the inner bag, with the right sides together. Tuck the flap and the straps inside in between the outer and inner so that they are flat at the top of the bag. I like to have the inner pockets on the opposite side from the outer pocket, so the inner pockets go on the side away from the flap.
17. Match up the side seams and pin along the edges, easing if you need to so that the two bags match up. Then stitch along the edge of the top, using a seam between 1/4″ and 1/2″ – remembering that you need to cover the earlier stitching of the straps and the flap. Start about two inches away from the middle on the front (the side where the magnetic snap is, and the flap isn’t) and sew all the way around, stopping about two inches from the middle on the front. (In other words leaving a gap of about 4″ at the top to allow room to turn the bag out to the right sides.) Add some reinforcing stitching over the two straps, and the edges of the flap.
18. Now turn the bag right side out by pulling it through the gap in the stitching. You should end up with something like this below.
19. Now tuck the inner down inside the outer and iron the top so that the seam is flat and the gap is turned under ready for top stitching. Next comes the top stitching. As you will see, there are two options for this. I started by sewing all the way around the top of the bag, making sure to catch the gap and close it, by sewing on the outside of the bag.
20. Unfortunately when I inspected my handiwork I discovered that this had happened to the inner lining.
The top stitching over the flap was messy, had caught up the lining, and generally didn’t look very tidy. So I unpicked it and re-stitched, this time sewing on the inside of the bag.
And the finished product was much neater!
A quick press with the iron and hey presto – you have a bag!
I can’t wait to see what combinations you come up with to make your own bags – or bags as Christmas presents! If you want to put a zipped pocket on the inside – or outside for that matter – then this tutorial from U-Handbag is a great guide on how to do it. (And using a contrasting lining is always a nice touch!)
If you want to make the bag larger, it is just a matter of adding to the width, the length, and/or the depth (by making a wider triangle across the bottom corners). To keep the flap covering the bag, you need to make the flap the width of the bag, less the depth of the bag. In this case the width was 10 1/2″, and the depth was 2″, so the flap needed to be 8 1/2″ wide.
Please let me know if you have any questions, and if I have missed anything along the way! Happy sewing! If you want to use this pattern to make bags for selling, please credit me with the pattern by stating “Pattern by Theresa van Gessel of alittlebirdmademe.com.