Thursday, 17 September 2015

Patchwork bag present

You most likely won't remember but, at the start of the Summer, we were one bag down on where we wanted to be with teacher present making (back here and here). And now, happily, it's finally finished! And giving it at this time of year made it an extra surprising, surprise for the teacher!

Our inspiration for this bag came from one here. But we gave up on looking for a pattern/tutorial we liked and did our usual make it up as we went along. To start with, Venetia sewed lots of strips together to get us to this point:

The fabric is already on top of an old wool blanket remnant here, ready for the next step.

Then I took over, I think Venetia could actually have done quite a bit more of it, especially if we'd started it in the holidays, but we'd left it so long we felt the need to get it finished quickly. And Venetia had got to do the most fun part already anyway!

So I backed the fabric with some old wool and did some simple quilting lines down the edges of each strip. Enough to give it some strength and sturdiness without making it stiff in any way. And then I trimmed it up neatly and sewed a few gathers along top and bottom.

It's a mix of mainly repurposed fabric (shirts, dress, sheets, curtains, jeans) with a few strips of new fabric /scraps in there too.

Here it is inside out (and upside down!), folded over and about to now be sewn along both sides.

I also cut out a lining piece, same size, folded that over and sewed that (right sides together) up the sides too.

Then I made a quick band for a closure...

Sew the loop of elastic inside like this and then when you turn it right way out again the loop will be sticking out just as required.

But make sure you sew the short loop side down very thoroughly, I'd recommend using a tight zigzag several times.

I also made a longer strap from the same fabric at this point.

Then the lining slotted into the bag, just as the bag will appear when completely finished, with the closure slotted in position between these 2 layers and the handle also slotted into its position either end of the bag.

I sewed all the way around the top now, so the bag is kind of finished except that the top is very scruffy. To remedy that I cut a strip of binding and pinned it all the way along the inside of the bag, like this, right sides together, overlapping slightly when you get back to your starting point...

At that starting point, where the ends of the binding join back together, make sure you fold the short edge under so you avoid raw edges - but because, once it's sewn down, you're about to lift this binding up and over, it's actually the underneath short edge that you need to make sure is folded in neatly.

Sew this down along the top edge of the bag (maybe half an inch down depending on your preference and the width of your binding). When I got to the handles and closure I sewed them down as well, on the outside of the bag, so they're basically being forced in the wrong direction on the outside of the bag.

Then fold the binding back up and over the outer bag, iron a narrow hem along the raw edge of the binding and pin it in place along the outside of your bag. When you get to the handles and closure strap this time, fold the binding over the top of them, so they're still being forced downwards in the wrong direction. But then fold the straps back up again and over the binding, pinning it in place as below.

Now when you sew the binding down, you'll be sewing the strap/handles back up into their final, correct position (go carefully because there'll be several layers, and I went over these patches a few times as well to give them extra strength). And that's it, your bag just needs a large button for your elastic loop and you're finished.

Ours turned out slightly on the large side (somehow, bags we make always seem to!) - but teachers always need large bags after all. And great for the beach or groceries too! Venetia was very happy with it and I love the general style of using the vertical strips and the bright mix of colours.

I think we might make another similar one as a Chistmas present, especially as we have quite a few perfect strips already cut, and initially I made 2 handles, before we decided one was enough.

And here's the back of the bag.
Plus the fact that I do love using patchwork in non-quilt makes, and usually they have the advantage of being much quicker to make than a great big quilt too!



  1. It looks fantastic and it's an all the more special present because Venetia did part of it - lucky teacher, what a cheery surprise!

  2. You always do your best work when you just dive in and go for it. Great bag!!!

  3. It looks great! I was wondering about the size and having Venetia hold it really gives a great sense of scale.

  4. What a perfect teacher gift. I bet she loved it!

  5. That is beautiful!!! Love it

  6. Love the colours, shape and size, what a lovely surprise for the teacher! X

  7. A beautiful bag and made even more special with Venetia sewing the patchwork. She looks so proud of her work and rightly so. Bet the teacher loves it.

  8. The teachers will be fighting to get Venetia in their class.

  9. Just beautiful... I bet the lucky teacher was sinply thrilled. I love your color choices too, very festive. :-)


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