So this is the project I have been working on intermittently over the past week or so. The last time we had a quilting guild meeting, a guest did show and tell with a project bag and I just loved it. She had made hers as one long piece (not as a bag) that folded up, sort of like a firewood carrier. She used old jeans as her pockets on the inside which I absolutely loved. When I got home I had every intention of doing something similar. Then I remembered that I had a Daisy chain Amy Butler bundle I picked up way back in March. Perfect! I will say that I used the project bag from Joann's as a starting point, but I changed all the dimensions, added pockets and made some other modifications. There were also loads of complaints about the instructions for it so I thought I would try to do a little better. I love this bag. It is large; lest I say, huge. How huge? See this bag? That's my daughter holding the handle.
What's inside it, you say? Uh, well, ...
I will provide large and small cutting directions, but you could really do it any size you want. You just need to make sure you do the following:
- all side pieces (outer and liner) are exactly the same size
- the gusset piece should be at least as long as the sum of the side and bottom measurements of your side pieces (ex. if you choose to cut your sides 26.5" x 20", the length or your gusset piece needs to be no less than 26.5 + 20 + 20 which would be 66.5")
- your outside pieces will receive fusible interfacing; I used medium weight interfacing because mine is larger and it makes it easier to fold and store, but I may use a bit heavier on a smaller sized bag to give it more structure, maybe what they call craftbond)
- your pocket pieces just need to fit the dimensions of your bag (no need in cutting a 26.5" wide pocket if your bag is only 20" wide)
What you will need:
- fabric: I used a 1 yd bundle for my large bag so that I would have different fabrics to choose from, and I had about a yard total left over. You could probably get away with 4 yards for the large bag; if you are using different fabrics from one line, remember you will need some larger pieces (at least 3/4 yard of two) to cut your two inner pieces and your two outer pieces. If not, you could do some piecing of scraps or smaller pieces to get them up to the right side. I think this would make a fabulous scrap project; in fact that may be how I do my smaller version!
- fusible interfacing: you will need at least medium weight for this project. You might want a heavier weight for a smaller bag to help it keep it's shape.
- scissors, cutting mat, rotary cutter, sewing machine, pins (the usual suspects)
1. For a large bag (and I do mean large!), cut the following:
Two outer fabric and two liner fabric: 26.5" wide by 20" tall
One gusset for outer and one gusset for inner: 6.5" wide by 66.5" long (I like to make it a few inches longer just in case)
For a smaller bag, cut the following:
Two outer fabric and two liner fabric: 20.5" wide by 15.5" tall
One gusset for outer and one gusset for inner: 5" wide by 52" long (I like to make it a few inches longer just in case)
No matter what size bag you make, you will need the following:
Cut one piece of fusible interfacing the size of the gusset, and two pieces the size of the outer fabric. These will ironed onto the outer pieces.
My outer fabric on top has a strip of different fabric across the top because my fabric was too short.
For the gusset pieces, I cut two strips the WOF and sewed them together at the end instead of cutting one long piece along the length of the selvage. I folded each piece in half at that seam and cut my excess of the other ends. I used the excess pieces to create pockets for my bag. I ended up having two pieces with interfacing and two without, so I mixed them for the extra durability on each pocket.
2. You are now going to start sewing the gusset to one side of the front piece. I line it up by folding each piece in half and lining up the centers. I start pinning in the center, then moving out toward each side. If you have never sewn around corners like this, I'll warn you it's tricky.
I cut it, reposition it, then start sewing again. You might have a better method. Just be careful going around the corner.
5. Once you finish one side, line up the other side and sew it as well. Be sure everything lines up as you go, especially the corners. Mine was wonky and I had to rip it and resew it. When you get finished, you will have the outer piece done.
6. Before sewing together your liner, you will want to sew on any pockets you want. I used one large pocket on one side for my cutting board & rulers, and smaller pockets on the other side for notions. For the large pocket, cut a piece of coordinating fabric about 36" tall by the width of the liner fabric (in my case, 26.5"). Fold the fabric in half going down and iron; it will be 18" tall by 26.5" wide. Run an edge stitch along the top.
Another option for making this pocket (if you do not want to use so much fabric) is to cut a piece about the same size as your side piece. Fold about one inch down at the top going toward the back and iron. Do this one more time. Iron. Now sew an edge stitch at the top edge all the way across, and another one across the bottom of the inch you folded. Baste it to the side piece the same way I explained above. Your pocket will just be thinner; one layer of fabric instead of two.
7. If you would like some smaller pockets on the other side of the liner, now is the time to add these. I used the two pockets I created from the remainder of my gusset pieces. I placed these pieces front to front and sewed around the edge using 1/4" seam, leaving a 2-3" hole for turning. Just from my own experience, I never leave the hole near a corner. I leave it in the center of one of the sides. It is much easier to sew up a straight hole than one that rounds a corner or runs into a corner. Snip the corners off without cutting through the sewn part. This will make it easier to push your corners out.
Now turn your piece and use something to poke your corners out (I tend to use my scissors which is not a good idea; one day that is going to end badly!). Once it is square, fold in the opening from the turning hole to match the edges around it. Iron it down.
I made another long pocket just like out large pocket on the other side but only did it about 8-9" high. You will cut a piece the same width of your side piece, and the height of it will be double the size you want the pocket to be. For example, I wanted my pocket to be about 8" high so I cut my piece 16" high and 26.5" wide. I then followed the same instructions for constructing a pocket that are given on step 6.
Place your pockets approximately where you think they will work well for you and pin along each side and the bottom. The long pocket works best on the bottom because the sides and bottom will get sewn into the seam. When placing the small pockets, remember to make sure the opening from the turning hole is placed downward or on one of the sides. This will insure that it gets sewn closed when you stitch your pocket down.
I originally wanted the bottom long pocket to be for my rulers but it kept hanging open so I chose to make it into several pockets by sewing from the top lip of the pocket, down to the bottom in intervals of several inches. This gives me several extra pockets. You can make these pockets whatever size you need.
8. You are now going to sew your lining the same exact way you sewed your outer pieces in steps 2-5. If you are looking at the Joann.com project bag, they tell you to leave a turning hole in the lining. I do not do it this way and I think my way is easier (just my own two cents!).
9. You should now have a completed outer shell and a completed inner shell. This next part is going to sound weird, but stay with me. Turn the shells out to exactly how they will look when they are sewn together (the outer shell will have the fabric showing outward while the lining will have the fabric showing inward). Take your outer shell and place it INSIDE the lining shell. Yes, I said that right. If you look down inside the bag, you should see fusible interfacing. If you look at the outside of the bag, you should see the wrong side of the lining. You can see this better in the picture below.
Starting at your corners, line up and pin all the way around. I pin all 4 corners first because they HAVE to meet correctly. Sew a 3/8" seam all the way around the top except for a 4-5" hole on one of the long sides for turning.
10. Turn your bag inside out.
11. Once it is completely pulled out, push the liner down inside the outer fabric. Press all around the top edges and press the turning hole in. You are going to sew an edge stitch all around the edge of the top of the bag.
12. This step is optional. When I got to this point and looked inside the bag, I noticed that the weight of the pockets seemed to pull the liner away from the outer fabric some and it was hard to get a good shot of the inside of the bag.
Because I wanted there to be more unity between the inner and outer shells, I actually stitched them together along the gusset.
and here's another close-up of the side view.
13. Straps! I always decide on my straps last because I have to figure out exactly how the bag is going to fall against my body and how much length I am going to need. For this project, I cut four straps 2.5" by 35". Two pieces will receive interfacing and two will not. I forgot to mention it when we were using interfacing before, but there is nothing wrong with piecing interfacing. I just make sure that there is a little bit of overlap. Not much. You don't want a piece to bend funny at one place because you butted up two pieces of interfacing but they didn't meet properly.
Line up one fused and one unfused strap right side to right side and pin. Leaving a 2-3" hole for turning, sew a 1/4" seam all the way around the edge of the strap.
Before turning, clip the corners.
Sew your second strap the same way and turn both inside out. Iron flat and iron opening closed.
Sew an edge stitch all around each strap.
I stitched all around the existing edge stitch and then across the top. You could then stitch a big X across the center of your rectangle, but I chose to stitch down an inch and stitch across, stitch down an inch and stitch across.