I have been on what can only be described as a sewing bender the last few weeks. I made a reversible bag as a gift for a very close friend and it exploded into requests from other friends then to family wanting one. So I have been diligently making a personalized bag for each person and I wanted to share with you how to make them.
The bag that started it all!
These bags are pretty easy to do and I’m able to make one in a couple of hours now and the ladies in my local Hancock Fabrics know me well as well as the cashiers at the local thrift store with all the fabric I’ve been buying!
Without further ado, let’s make a reversible bag.
Step 1: Fabric
For all of these bags I used an upholstery type of fabric from the store, my stash or even from the thrift store. I like these canvas or drapery type fabrics because they are durable. I used a mixture of canvas stuff and flannel (fleecy, brushed cotton stuff to the Brits, not face cloth material) on a bag for my Mum.
The fabric needs to be washed and dried before you get started to pre-shrink it otherwise, if you put the bag through the wash, it could shrink and open up holes in the seams.
Step 2: Press
Now that your fabric is dry, you need to get friendly with the iron and ironing board. Press the fabric flat with lots of steam to enable you to cut accurately; wrinkled fabric will make the pieces skew-wiff.
Once your fabric is ironed, lay it down on a large flat surface with the back side of the fabric up and the right side (with the design) face down.
Step 3: Measuring and Cutting
For the side panels, I like to have 6 inches width on the bags I make but the length can be however long you want depending on what you want to use the bag for. I’m using 17 inches in total to allow for two 1/4 inch seams. You need to measure out two of these side panels for the outer bag and another two side panels for the inner bag.
For the main front and back panels, you need two rectangles 26 inches long and 14 inches wide for the outer bag and another two for the inner bag.
I’m using a fabric marker which will disappear over time to mark all my measurements before cutting.
I’m cutting out the pieces with pinking shears to reduce fraying. This canvas type fabric frays a lot when cut with straight edged scissors.
Once all of your pieces are cut out, give them another press with a steamy iron.
Step 4: Pinning
With the right sides (design side) of the fabric together, pin together. If you have a design that runs one way, you will need rotate the piece with will be the back piece so the run of the design is maintained. I found that playing with the pieces with the design up I can figure out how the bag will look then pin it on the back.
Step 5: Hem The Bottom Seam
I used my Juno Serger Machine by Janome Model 3434D to join the pieces because it was particularly prone to fraying.
You can see the serged hem in progress in this picture. If you don’t have a serger, you can stitch a seam then zigzag stitch the raw edges to stop them fraying.
I should note that if you have a plain fabric or one which doesn’t have a directional pattern on the design, you can cut it as one long piece and not need to stitch two pieces together.
Here’s the hemmed front and back panels. You need to do this for both sets of front and back panels for the outer and inner bag.
Step 6: Pin The Side Panels
Line up the seam on the front and back piece to the middle of the side panel. Place the side panel so the design is face down and the design on the front and back piece is face up.
You can see on this picture that the side cut with pinking shears is not fraying but the unpinked side is.
Pin the bottom of the side panel to the front and back piece.
Gather the corner a little to be able to sew it.
Here’s the gathered corner on the reverse.
Be sure to pin it to hold the corner in place.
Pin the side piece all the way along the sides.
Here is a fully pinned side panel.
Step 7: Stitch the Side Panel
Sew all the seams with about 1/4 inch seam. I made a seam then ran the edges all through the serger to be able to reduce the bulk and add more strength to the seams.
If you don’t have a serger, zigzag stitch the edges of the side panels.
Repeat the pinning and stitching on all the side panels for the inner and outer bag.
Step 8: Make the Handles
Cut strips of fabric about 3 inches wide and as long as you need. Bend the strip in half to check that the size of the handle will work for you.
Once cut, you will need to press in the raw edges on the strips.
Here’s the pressed edges on one strip.
Next, fold the strip in half, enclosing the edges and press again with a steamy iron.
Once pressed, stitch the edge down on the handle strap.
Step 9: Putting it all Together
Turn the bags to they have the designs facing each other.
Smooth out the bags and line up the seams.
Slide in the handles for each side.
Loop the handle in each side and pin them to the pieces. Line up the handles to ensure the same placement and that the length poking out is the same otherwise you will have uneven handles.
Pin the bags together. The double pin means the start of the small gap needed for turning the bags the right way around. Another double pin will show where the gap ends.
Stitch a seam to join the pieces together. I’m using about 1/2 inch seam and I backstitch over the handles to build some more strength in the handle.
Step 10: Turn It Inside Out
Here’s the gap in the bags I mentioned earlier. It is unstitched to allow for the whole thing to be turned inside out.
Here’s the bag being turned inside out. A chopstick helps to poke corners through.
Step 11: Press Again
Now that the bag is turned the right way, press the bag, paying particular attention to the top seam.
Step 12: Topstitch
Top stitch the gap closed and stitch all the way around the top of the bag.
Here’s the finished bag!
I have been working on this post for a long time so I’m glad to finally have it published now that the sun is shining, my seeds are being delivered daily and my fruit trees, vines, bines and shrubs are all on their way I need to put my sewing down and crack on with the gardens!