Monday, April 10, 2017

How to Make Fabric Gift Bags  - April 10, 2017    

Are you looking for something to wrap an Easter gift or perhaps a birthday gift?  An easy solution is to make a fabric gift bag.  You can make a gift bag from one or two rectangles.  I prefer to use two rectangles and I will explain why at the end of these directions.  If you are an avid sewer, I am sure you have lots of fabric in your stash you could use.  
  1. Assemble your supplies.  You will need fabric, thread, ribbon, and a bodkin or small safety pin to insert the ribbon.
  2. Cut two rectangles suitable for the size of your gift.  You can judge the size needed by laying the gift on a cutting mat and adding several inches to the sides to allow for the thickness of the gift.  Then add several inches at the bottom to allow for room to square the bottom.  Also add 3 - 4 inches to the top to allow for the casing.  Read through these directions before you begin.
  3. Clean finish all four edges of both rectangles with a serger or pinking shears.  Right sides together, sew the bottom seam of the bag.  Press the seam open.
  4. Right sides together, prepare to sew the side seams.  Before you sew, use chalk to mark an opening on both sides for the ribbon you will use to close the bag.  Place a chalk mark about 2 inches from the top edge of the bag and another about 5/8 inch below the first.  Sew from the top to the first mark.  Back tack and cut thread.  Skip to the next mark and begin by back tacking.  Then sew to the seam at the bottom of the bag.  Do not sew through the seam allowance.  Stop at the seam and back tack.  This will make it easier to square the bottom of the bag in step 6.  Clip the seam allowance just above the bottom seam.  Be careful not to cut through your stitches.  Sew the other side seam in the same manner and press seams open.
  5. Sew down about 2 1/2 inches on each side of both seams from the top of the bag.  This will make it easier to get the ribbon through the casing because it keeps the seam flat.
  6. To make the casing, fold 1 1/2 inches down from the top of the bag and press to the inside.  Stitch the fold down by sewing in the serged area around the bag or if you pinked the edges, sew just above the pinked edge.  Now sew another line just above the two openings to complete the casing.
  7. Turn the bag wrong side out to square the bottom.  To do this, align a side seam to the bottom seam to form a triangle.  Stitch in place across the triangle, usually 1 - 1 1/2 inches from the point.  You may choose to use a larger measurement.  A larger measurement will make the bag shorter and the bottom wider.  Sew the other side of the bag in the same manner, making sure to use the same measurement across the triangle.  
  8. Cut two pieces of ribbon.  The length of each should be two times the width of the bag plus 10    inches.  Use a bodkin or safety pin to insert the ribbon into one of the openings in the casing.    Go around the entire circumference and exit the same opening where you began.  Tie the ends  of the ribbon together.  Use the other piece of ribbon and insert it into the opposite opening        and go around the entire circumference of the bag.  Exit the opening where you began with        this ribbon.  

Your bag is now completed!  I usually put a sheet or two of tissue paper in my bags before I place the gift inside.  This provides a little protection for the gift and gives shape to the bag.

I mentioned earlier I would explain why I prefer to use two rectangles instead of one.  It will work if you use just one rectangle and fold it in half to create two sides instead of sewing two pieces together.  However, if you use a one directional print, the print on one side of your bag will be upside down.  Also, when you make the triangle using the one piece method, there will not be a bottom seam to align with the side seam when you make the triangles to square the bottom.  Instead you will need to measure from the side seam to the edge of both sides of the fold of the triangle to determine when the seam is centered on the bottom of the bag.  Therefore, I prefer to use two rectangles and then I do not worry about the direction of the print and it is quicker to square the bottom.

I hope you enjoy making fabric bags as much as I do.  I buy holiday fabric right after a holiday when the fabric is usually on sale.  I try to keep a supply on hand of different size bags made from holiday fabric.  I also keep other nonspecific fabric bags on hand for birthday and other gifts.  I use solid color and print fabric.  I like to use 100% cotton because it is easy to sew, but I also use other fabrics as well.  Satin makes an elegant bag to use for a wedding gift.  Have fun making your gift bags!


Saturday, April 1, 2017

How to Make a Simple Purse without a Pattern     -     April 1, 2017

Need a gift for a friend or family member?  Consider making the gift more special by making it yourself.  Search your stash for fabric to make a simple purse without a pattern.

The key is to think about the design and the order of the steps needed before you begin.  Most purses are made from rectangles or slight variations of the rectangles and can be made any size you desire.  They can be made with or without a lining.   You can use double sided quilted cotton, home décor fabric, corduroy, denim or almost any other fabric.  Most likely you will need a stabilizer.  You can use interfacing, quilt batting, fleece, or a foam stabilizer like Soft and Stable.  If you use double sided quilted cotton, you will not need a stabilizer.  You can use purchased double sided quilted cotton or make your own.  For the purse shown below, I made my double sided quilted fabric.  I used one layer of home décor fabric from my stash with a layer of quilt batting and one layer of cotton fabric. 

After I measured a purse I liked to decide what size I wanted, I cut 2 rectangles of the home décor fabric, the cotton fabric, and quilt batting.  I allowed ½ inch for seams.  Then I quilted the three layers together using cross hatching.  I did the same for the other half of the purse.

Next, I decided how many pockets I wanted on the inside and outside of the purse.  I wanted as many pockets as possible.  The key to adding pockets to both sides is to place them so they don’t interfere with each other.  A pocket on the inside will do you no good, if you sew over it when you place another pocket on the outside.  To avoid this, I made a deep pocket for the inside of the purse that was the width of the rectangle and sewed down the middle to divide the pocket into two sections.  Then I sewed across the bottom of only one section.   I folded the loose section out of the way and turned the fabric over to the outside.  Then I made a cell phone pocket and sewed down the side of that pocket closest to the middle dividing stitch of the inside pocket.    I did not sew across the bottom of the cell phone pocket because that was below the bottom of the inside pocket.   Then I turned over the fabric and returned to the 2- section pocket.   I folded the unattached section of the cell phone pocket out of the way.  Then I  folded the first section of the inside pocket into place and sew the bottom down.  I did not sew the sides of this pocket at this time because they would be eventually be sewn into the side seams.  After that I flipped the fabric over and sewed the bottom and left side of the cell phone pocket.    

My next step was to decide what order to sew pockets on the other purse piece.  I made a small pocket for the inside, so I installed that first.  Then I made a larger zipped pocket for the outside.  I placed the zippered pocket so the stitches did not cross into the area of the inside pocket.

I trimmed the sides of the purse to make it smaller at the top and a little larger at the bottom.  Then I installed the zipper and strap.  Next, I place right sides of the purse together and sewed the side seams and the bottom.  I squared the bottom and my purse was finished. 

Making a purse is easy and fun.  No pattern is needed.  You probably have fabric in your stash to make one.   Just cut rectangles for the purse body and for the pockets.  Attention to detail is needed to make sure the pockets are sewn in the correct sequence.  If you sew them out of order, you can always get you ripper and make corrections!   If you want more detailed directions, I posted the size of the rectangles I used and the sequence of steps including photos on my website,  Just click on “tutorials”.

Have fun sewing!