Two-tone textures

Materials

  • 35cm (3⁄8yd) of upper bag fabric
  • Fat quarter of lower bag fabric
  • 45cm (1⁄2yd) lining fabric
  • 25 x 40cm (10 x 16in) contrast pocket fabric
  • 18 x 40in cotton wadding (optional, if bag fabric is flimsy)
  • 2m (2 1⁄4yd) of 4cm (1 1⁄2in) wide webbing, or wider if you prefer
  • 12 decorative 2cm (3⁄4in) buttons
  • Matching sewing threads

Finished Size

Approx 41cm wide x 51cm high (16in wide x 19in high)

Skill Level

Intermediate

Where to buy

Use a combination of heavyweight fabrics, orphan patchwork blocks, furnishing fabrics or old jeans to make your bag. Webbing is available from haberdashers, department store soft furnishing sections, or large DIY stores.

Preparation

All measurements include 1⁄2in seam allowances, unless otherwise stated. Wash and press all fabrics before cutting out.

This is a wonderful bag to make because it is fast and easy and the results are just lovely. You can use printed 'patched' fabric, stripes and checks, patch your own, or whatever other fabric you like. If you're using a heavyweight top fabric, the bottom half looks good in candlewick or faux chenille layers of denim.

CONSTRUCTION NOTE

The construction of this bag is unusual, so please read the instructions and don’t do your own thing; you will only miss out on an amazing method of making a bag!!! Read the instructions carefully before you begin; start at step one and continue from there. Remember that your seam allowances are all 1⁄2in.

MAKING THE BAG

Figure 1: Attach handles to upper bag fabric

Figure 2: Sew the lower bag panel between the upper bag panels

  1. Cut out two pieces of upper bag fabric, each 18 x 10in. Cut two handles 40in long from webbing. Fold each one in half and pin the ends 4in apart onto the right side of an upper bag fabric rectangle as in Figure 1. Align the raw edges at the bottom. Sew both handles in place, stopping 2in from the top edge of the bag.
  2. Cut out one piece of lower bag fabric 18in x 20in. Sew the lower bag fabric to the bottom edge of both pieces of upper bag fabric, right sides together as in Figure 2.
  3. Fold the bag in half, right sides together. If your bag fabrics are lightweight, cotton wadding will give the bag a firmer shape. Cut your wadding 18 x 38in and wrap the wadding all around the wrong side of the bag as in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Wrap wadding around the WS of the bag

INSERTING THE LINING

  1. Cut the lining fabric 18 x 44in. This is meant to be bigger than the main bag. If you would like a pocket in the inside of your bag, see step 2 to construct and sew it to the lining. Otherwise go straight to step 3.
  2. Cut a pocket rectangle 10 x 16in from contrasting fabric. Fold it in half right sides together and sew up the two side seams, leaving the bottom seam open. Clip the two top corners, turn inside out and press. Place the pocket onto the right side of the lining, 12in down from the top edge, with the raw edge facing towards the top edge. Pin and sew along the raw edge. Flip the pocket up, press and pin in place. Top stitch along the bottom and sides.
  3. Fold the lining in half, right sides together, and place the folded lining on top of your bag and wadding layers. The lining will be longer than the rest; this is how it should be, so please don't cut any off! All folded edges should be at the bottom, and all open edges should be at the top, as in Figure 4.
  4. Pin all the layers together well, especially where the lower bag fabric meets the upper bag fabric. Sew up both seams, right to the top of the lining. Trim the bottom corners and turn the bag through via the lining, making it inside out.
  5. Sugar bag the bottom corners of the bag via the inside. To make a sugar bag corner, pinch a corner of the bottom of the bag as shown in Figure 5, matching the side seam with the bottom fold. Pin and sew across, 2 1⁄2in in from the point. Repeat for both corners. This step can be a little confusing; what we are aiming for is a boxed effect as in Figure 5. Turn the bag the right way out.
  6. The lining should now be protruding out of the bag as in Figure 6. Fold the lining over onto the right side and tuck the raw edge under. Pin really well and then sew to the upper bag fabric. You can leave the lining showing over the top, or tuck it inside, as you prefer. Topstitch the top edge of the bag and lining, if you wish.
  7. Finally sew the decorative buttons onto the handle as in Figure 7. You are now the proud owner of a great and useful bag, well done!

Figure 4: Place folded lining fabric on top of bag and wadding layers

Figure 5 (left): Making sugar bag corners Figure 6 (right): Attaching the lining at the top

Figure 7 Sew the buttons on to your finished bag

FAUX CHENILLE

Also known as slashing! To make faux chenille as in the denim heart version of our bag, layer four or more layers of frayable fabric. Pin the layers together on top of each other, or use a fabric spray baste between each layer. Mark a diagonal line on the bias, right across the centre of the fabric sandwich. Using a walking foot, stitch through all layers along the marked line. Then stitch parallel lines 1⁄4in to 1⁄2in apart on both sides of the first stitched line, until the fabric is completely quilted with diagonal lines. Sew each line in the opposite direction to the previous one, to prevent shifting. Carefully cut between all the lines with sharp scissors, or a special rotary slash cutter on a cutting mat, without cutting through the bottom layer of fabric. Avoid cutting your stitches. To make the chenille fluff up, wash and tumble dry it. You can add a clean tennis ball to the dryer to enhance the fluffy effect. Check and empty the lint trap in your dryer frequently. You can use this thick layered fabric in many quilting projects.

First published in Popular Patchwork May 2008