I like to use old denim skirts and jeans, with perhaps a curtain leftover, to make my bags. This much used example is looking a little the worse for wear now. It is far more simple to make than it appears at first glance.
Here is a sort of step by step of how I made another the same way and at the end is a link to a printer-friendly one page version with drawings instead of photos.
- I used ¼" seam allowance throughout and before I started I should have thought about the handles because these two need to be cut 3" wide x approx 30" long so it's a good idea to put enough fabric to one side before you begin.
THE BAG SIDES
- For each of the two sides I cut 6 pieces of fabric 11”x 2½ “ and 5 pieces of contrasting fabric 11” x 1¼“. If you're using a plain fabric it looks nice with a line of sewing down the centre of the wider pieces - a chance to try out some of those fancy stitches that my machine can do and I rarely use!
- I sewed these together along their long sides to make the back and the front of the bag and I zigzagged the seams as my fabrics frayed easily.
- I trimmed to 10½ “ wide and marked the centre of each narrow band at the top with a pen.
- I folded the wider bands to meet at this mark making box pleats, then pinned each pleat and sewed across to hold them in place.
- At the bottom I made tiny pleats of only ⅛” in the same way and sewed across to hold.
TIP - when I'd pinned the second side I checked that it was the same width at the bottom as the first - of course it wasn't and I adjusted the pleats a bit.
These small pleats at the bottom are well worth doing as they make so much difference to the shape of the bag, especially when I'm carrying lots - as I usually am!
THE TOP PIECES
- I measured across the top of the bag sides and cut two pieces of fabric (this time I've used the same fabric as the wider strips) 4½ “ wide x this measurement. With right sides together I sewed one to the front and one to the back.
- I added flat piping in this seam.
- I cut two pieces of fabric 10 ½ “ x the measurement across the bottom of my bag side.
- I sewed a pocket from the jeans to one of the linings.
- I gathered the top (the longer edge) of each lining piece until they measured the same as the top of the bag side.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
- I sewed these linings to the other sides of the “top” fabric and ended up with two like this:
- I used a 3” circle to mark the sewing line at the bottom corner of each bag side and lining – rounded corners are so much nicer, and with right sides together and bag fabric against bag fabric, lining against lining, I sewed from X to X around the bag edges and then around the linings.(X is 1½ “ from the seam)
- This is the really exciting bit - turning the bag the right way out through one of the openings in the side and tucking the lining inside the bag. What a transformation!
- I turned in the sides of the “top” fabric where the handle goes through and sewed a line of stitching approx 1” below the fold at the very top of the bag. I did this for both front and back.
- Now I turned in the remaining raw edges and slip-stitched the bag fabric to the lining, this leaves a nice wide opening to the top of the bag.
- For the handles I cut two pieces of fabric approx 30” x 3”
- I folded them in half along their lengths and pressed to mark the middle. I opened them out and folded the edges to the middle and then folded in half again, pressing each time. This made four thicknesses. I opened them out and slipped a little wadding inside, refolded and sewed along the handles close to the open edge.
- These handles are threaded through the very top of the bag, the ends are joined and pulled back inside to hide the join.
- Now I gathered the top of the bag on the handles, and then sewed the openings to the handles to secure - see my pictures at the top of this post.
- I made a button loop in the same way as the handles (no wadding), cutting the strip approx 10” x 2”.
- I neatened the ends with zigzag and sewed the loop to the back top of the bag, hiding the ends with a button. I sewed another button to the top front.
So, all done and I assure you that it's far more difficult to write about than to actually sew!! But I'm pleased I did write about this as it has spurred me on to finally finish this bag. Ta da!
This is the link to the one page instructions: pleated shoulder bag
Happy Stitching - Anita