How to Make the Easiest and Grooviest Bag Ever!

Posted by pamela on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

So today is the day I have decided to change and improve upon my status as World's Laziest Blogger.  I am turning over a new leaf and a Guess what?  new blog where you will now regularly find charming anecdotes of my fascinatiing life; easy and inspiring patterns and tutorials; pictures of my children dressed up in matching handmade outfits; recipes, of course - and maybe the occasional book review.  This will be the Blog that Has It All.  I'm sure celebrities will be dropping in fairly often to share their views and opinions and inspirations as well.  Get ready to be blown away!

The inspiration for today's blog entry is the new Echino fabric that arrived a few days ago.  The first thing I decided to make was this little bag:


It was quick and easy and fun.  Here's what you need:

1/2 yd fabric for the exterior and a 1/2 yd for the lining

1/2 yd interfacing (you can use Pellon 71 sew-in interfacing like I did, Decor Bond, batting, canvas - there are lots of options)

Sewing machine, ruler, rotary cutter, thread, pins... all the usual suspects

Store bought handles or you can make fabric handles

I think that's it.

First things first, turn on The Real Housewives on Bravo.  Any of them will do - Atlanta, O.C., NYC, NJ.  For this bag, we are going with the NYC Reunion.  Poor Jill can't catch a break.

Now take the fabric you are using for the Exterior of the bag and place it, folded, on your cutting table:


Using the fabric to help you, decide how big you want your bag to be and how you want to cut it.  Do you want it to be tall and narrow?  Wide to fit your laptop?  Small and dainty?  In-between?  Do you want to use all the colors are just a few, if you're using the Echino like I am here?  It's up to you! 

Now get out your ruler, or some straight edge.

Cut out the shape you want your bag to be, keeping in mind that the very bottom of thefabric is going to end up being the bottom of the bag and will not show, and you are going to be using a 1/2" seam allowance all around.  For my bag, I decided to make another small one.  I cut 2 pieces of the Echino 10" x 13".  Then I cut a 2" square out of the bottom 2 corners so my 2 exterior fabric pieces looked like this:


Next, I picked a lining fabric and cut 2 pieces exactly the same way, and also cut 2 pieces of interfacing the same way:


If you are fusing your interfacing, follow the manufacturer's instructions and fuse it now.  Next: time for a sandwich. Place 1 piece of the interfacing on a flat surface, then place 1 piece of the exterior fabric RIGHT SIDE UP, then place the other piece of the exterior fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN on top of that, and finally, place with the last piece of interfacing on the very top.  Line everything up like this:


Not folded back, I'm just doing that to show you what it looks like inside.  Keep it flat down on the surface.  Then stick a few pins in, and take it to the sewing machine.  Sew the 2 sides and the bottom using a 1/2" seam allowance:

ready 2 sew

Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam.  You can see here that I didn't use a lot of pins, but if I was making a bigger bag, I would.

Press those seams OPEN!  Using a sleeve board or one of those hams things really helps.

sleeve board

Now comes what is, honestly, the trickiest part.  It's really very simple once you see it done.  Take the side seams and bring them down to meet the bottom seam at each side, a sew a 1/2" seam across.  It looks like this:


Stick some pins in there and take it to your machine.  Sew a 1/2" seam allowance across, holding that seam open if you haven't pinned it.  Don't forget to backstitch!

When you're done, it's time to turn the bag inside out and admire your beautiful work!  Damn, you're good!

Now - take the pieces of lining fabric and amke the liniing exactly the same way as the exterior - with one MAJOR change - leave a hole in the bottom of the lining seam to turn your bag inside out once it's completed.  Leave a good 6" - 8" minimum.   It should look like this:

Now we're ready to move on to the handles.  There are many options.  You can use bought handles like this, which look great:


and which are easy to put on.  These are added after the bag is completed, but there are lots of handles you can add right now, like fabric handles:


Depending on my mood, I like both.  Fabric handles are easy to make and you can add a spark of a different color or fabric for fun.  I decided to make fabric handles for this bag because I really wanted to bring the green back in to the exterior.  I used it in the lining and liked the way the colors all looked together.  I wanted my finished handles to be about 1" x 20" so I cut my strips of handle fabric 2 and 1/2" wide.  I cut it so I could get the blue stripe and the green dots in the strip.  Next I cut a 2" x 20" strip of the interfacing.  I placed the interfacing in the middle of the fabirc strip and ironed the 1/4" onto the front like this:

fabiric iron

Nest, fold the the strip in half, press it well and top stitch down each side like this:

top stitch

When your handle is complete, place it on your bag and figure out where you want your handles to be.  For my bag, I placed the end of each handle 3 1/2" from the side seam on each side and basted it on:


We're getting close.  You're almost done!  Put the lining WRONG SIDE OUT over the bag and handles RIGHT SIDE OUT - tuck those handles in there.  It should look like this:


Now sew a 1/2" seam around the top.  When you're done, you can turn the bag inside out through the hole you left in the lining (right?) and finish the bag.  After you turn the bag right side out, sew the hole in the lining closed.  The final step is top stitching around the top of the bag:

Guess what?  Your bag is now finished!  Whew!  Put your stuff in there and start carrying it around with all your usual flair.  Be prepared for endless compliments accompanied by requests to "make me one".


Wasn't that easy?   Email me at if you have any questions or feedback and ESPECIALLY send me pictures of any finished bags. 

NEXT: Kaleidoscopes

Stay tuned!