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Bag Making

I love making bags, there is something satisfying about using up remnants of fabric to make something practical (and free) Whenever I make a coat or jacket I always make some sort of bag to use when wearing it, especially now that we need to take a larger bag shopping with us. It is an opportunity to be a bit creative too and use trimmings that would otherwise me overwhelming on a garment.






These are two toiletry bags which I made out of leftover fabric. Have you seen how expensive they are to buy in the shops! A length of bag interfacing will make you lots of bags, then you just need a fastener.  I will talk about magnetic snaps and zips in each section.



All of my bag making supplies are from,  take a look at the link  HERE  They sell handles, snaps, interfacings and everything else you will need including patterns and some fabulous templates so you can design your own.



The pattern I am using is this one and in this post I am making a bag and two envalope wallets using an interfacing called   DECOVIL which is a firm but flexible stabiliser for bags, and also some FUSIBLE VOLUME FLEECE which is easier to use




The first bag I am going to make is an envalope shape,  and I am going to use Decovil.

Cut your fabric out using the correct pattern pieces,you need main pieces plus a lining, cut the Decovil out removing the seam allowances.  This is easier with a rotary cutter. If you were to iron the Decovil on to the fabric now you would find it difficult to turn the bag the right side out, so stitch the front flap to the front bag, press, and stitch the lining fabric to the bag front leaving a gap the length of the side of the bag when folded closed




As you can see I have left a gap through which I will insert the Decovil.  Trim the corners, turn right side out and press.




This is the bag right sides out. Now you need to roll the Decovil  and feed it inside, smoothing it out into the corners, the sticky side needs to face the lining. Press with a hot iron over a damp cloth. Note, I inserted the Decovil in three parts, so that the  wallet  would fold easily along the fold lines.




These are magnetic snaps  which I am using as closures. They are so useful for all sorts of garments as well as bags. They are available in three colours too HERE




The professional way is to insert the snap so that the back is enclosed within the bag itself and is hidden inside, but I find it a little fiddly so I came up with an alternative which I feel looks pretty anyway.

Mark where the snaps should go and then pierce holes carefully to push the prongs through as in the photograph above. Please be careful not to pierce your hand too!



Put the backing ring on and fold the ends down carefully, pressing down firmly.



Do the same on the other side

Then fold the bag the right way out and join the side seams by top stitching close to the edge, fastening the ends securely.  You have now made an envalope.

Note, you will have neatly pressed the opening left earlier when we inserted the Decovil , so this will be now be closed by he the top stitching.



What I do now to hide the back of the clasp is to take a large flat button and cover it with a circle of fabric, gathering it up tightly and sewing it neatly over the back of the clasp, which happens to be the centre front of the envalope flap!



These are great for all sorts of uses, I am using this one to keep a few sewing tools at hand .All from of course!



 I made another one, this time using  the fusible fleece as above.  This is much easier to sew as it can be ironed onto your lining before making the bag up. It makes for a softer finish, but it is still quite firm. This one holds a few handkerchiefs

My next blog post will show you how to use fusible volume fleece.


These would make beautiful practical gifts for somebody, you could put a mini sewing kit in one or some cosmetics or make up brushes etc etc






The next bag is made from Faux suede with an aplique trim. And I used Decovil as before.



I decided on some simple daisy  shapes for the aplique, so either draw the shape you want freehand or find a picture and trace over it. Designs like this always look better in odd numbers, I chose three. Iron some interfacing onto scraps of your fabric and cut them out.




I temporarily attached them to the fabric using a spray on craft glue but you can pin them in place if you prefer.



Using an aplique stitch on your machine go round the shapes at the edges. The interfacing will prevent any fraying.



You will find it easier to see what you are doing and follow the shape if you use an embroidery or aplique foot. This is the one I used.



The bag is in two halves and I used two different faux suede colours so I wanted to divide them by making some covered piping..this is easy to do by taking a strip of fabric and folding it over piping cord, stitching it close to the cord using a regular zipper foot.




Still using your zipper foot stitch the seam enclosing the covered piping cord.




Stich buttons in the centre of each flower , give the whole thing a good press.





The only tricky bit is putting the Decovil and the lining into the bag, the easiest way I found is to trim the seam allowances off the Decovil, stitch the bag and lining  together as in the pattern instructions  leaving a gap to push it through at the side and then closing the gap with hand stitches. A press with a hot iron and a damp pressing cloth will fuse the Decovil on to the fabric.




The handles were stitched in place by hand using waxed button thread.  There are plenty of handles to choose from. The ones I used are called CLARA others are available so choose the ones you like best. The lining is a Pink spotted cotton, all the fabrics were from by the way and I trimmed the inside edge with white ricrac braid. You don't have to do that but I like to finish the inside off nicely too.

I again used the magnetic snap to close the bag, hiding them with buttons I covered with fabric to match the daisies.



This is the finished bag along with the one I made out of my vintage curtain fabric. have a lot of different handles you could use the chain or leather handles for example.


Bags are easy to make, use a pattern the first time you make one because the instructions are the same whatever style you choose. Once you get the hang of it go freestyle or choose one of these Bag template packs , there are two more to choose from.

The only choice you need to make is which interfacing to choose. Some need to firmerso choose Decovil,  some softer,  so choose the iron on fleece,  it really is down to personal choice,











I am using the same pattern as before, this time though I am making the small toiletry bag. Once you have made a couple of bags you will find that the bag templates  VIEW  BAG TEMPLATE HERE are more fun to make. There are three sets of templates to choose from




I am using coordinating pure cotton prints by Tilda from  and a YKK BAG ZIP 



When cutting out the fabric you will need to cut out a set of lining pieces and also a set of pattern pieces in HIGH VOLUME FUSIBLE FLEECE This is a fabulous product with many uses.


Press each piece of fleece onto the wrong side of the fabric. You need to press the iron down over a clean damp pressing cloth for a few seconds. Don't move the iron around the fabric, press one place at a time and leave the pieces to dry for a few minutes.


On this bag I am going to make a facing for the zip. So I cut out another bottom piece and divided it in half lengthways and then pressed each strip in half again. These will form the top of the bag.

Another one of my favourite products is this double sided basting tape,which is on the web site as  PRYM WONDER TAPE it really is a wonder tape! I use lots of it, especially for inserting zips as it holds the zip in place whilst you sew it. If you have never tried it I urge you to do so,you will not be disappointed.

So, secure one piece of your fabric to the zip, next to the zipper teeth,



Open the strip and  machine stitch, using a normal zipper foot along the crease. Repeat for the other side.




Join the bag base to the sides. Press the seam open


Insert the sides. I found this easier to do by first stitching along the bottom, clipping into the corner, and then sewing the sides



You will now have a bag shape like this.


Make the lining up in exactly the same way



Working inside out and with right sides together, zip open, insert the zipper section, stitching all four sides. Clip the corners and press




Right sides together, and leaving a gap to turn the bag the right way out, stitch the lining to the outside of the bag.

Pull the bag the right way out through the gap and slip stitch the gap closed.



Neaten any loose threads and there is your bag made. You can add a zip pull here if you would like one.



This is a lovely toiletry bag and would make a perfect gift.



The volume fleece really does give a lot of body to the bag,  but it is lightweight and soft too.




There are many different ways to put your bag together,  it all depends on how you want the finished item to look, so here is a simplified version.

I am using cotton fabric and high volume fleece,  but this time I am using a showerproof fabric for the inside.  A piece of raincoat material of shower curtaining is perfect for this. On the photograph above I am inserting the zip, one side is already stitched in place.




I am not making a casing for the zip, this time I am inserting it straight into the bag opening, so make up your outer bag and lining as before but then press the seam allowance around the tops of each to the wrong side.

Insert your zip between the outer fabric and lining, pin,  making sure both fabrics are caught,  and then top stitch, do this on both sides You will find this easier if you remove your sewing machine extension table.



You will find that because you have not made a top for the bag, you are left with gaps at each end,



To deal with that, pinch the sides in to make a box pleat and top stitch joining up the previous top stitching. Once you get used to making your own pattern you will find your own way of making bags, maybe using a longer zip, or altering the shape of the sides, or even just sewing a rectangle with no sides......



 This is the inside of the bag showing the waterproof coat fabric which I used to line it.

The zip I used is a special zip bag, which are brand new. Please check with on the contact form ,the  link is below, to find out when they have arrived. Otherwise use an ordinary zip.


I added a piece of ribbon as a zip pull to finish the bag.




These are two very useful bags. Don't forget that men need bags too! What about a toiletry bag in a striped pattern with a waterproof lining, do take a look at the fabulous bag patterns on sale, BAG PATTERNS you could make all of your friends and  family a really nice gift. Lap top cases and phone cases are always welcome. You could add an aplique initial to the outside.



Thank you for reading this, I hope that you will be inspired to give bag making a go,  once you have made your first one you will be hooked I promise you . Take a look at the web site at the bag making section BAG MAKING, you will,  be inspired by the handles alone I promise!


I do make a lot of bags as I said before, this post is just giving you a basic idea of what you could do. Choose a pattern you like the look at and gather your spare fabrics and make a bag this evening, yes, it is quick too!




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