Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Pleated Shoulder Bag

"Waste not, Want not" - it always feels good to make something from old clothes and it frees you from that scary thought that you might cut your lovely, but expensive, fabric wrongly. All you will be wasting is a little time and you'll probably learn a lot in the process.

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.

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!

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.

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

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