Quilted Bag Tutorial!

Oh SNAP!  Y’all bear with me here.  I hear I am terrible at telling stories, giving directions, and basically communication of any sort.  I typically have to draw pictures, so hopefully this won’t be a big disaster! 😀  You have been warned.

My Postage Stamp Quilted Bag Tutorial

I have been wanting to do a tutorial at some point, but I knew that it would need to be something original.  I have made quite a few quilted bags, and I knew I would want to make one for myself.  Obviously, right?  So I did!

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Cute, right?  Now I’m going to tell you what all you’re going to need to make one for yourself.  Also!!!  If you don’t want to deal with the fuss and muss of making a bag of your own, head on over to my Etsy shop and let me know what you’re looking for.


Materials:

  • 3/4th of one yard of fabric.  This will be for your lining, handles, and all pockets.  If you want a different style for the outside pocket (which is what I did) you will need 1/4th of a yard of a coordinating fabric, and you can use one half yard. (you could probably use a fat quarter)
  • 10 – 2 1/2″ x 42″ cotton strips.  I used leftovers from a jelly roll, but you don’t have to do that.  If you want a lot of variation, use 9 different patterns.  Also, your bag will be half as wide as your strips are long, (42″ strips = 21″ wide bag) so keep that in mind.
  • Scrap Batting You will only need enough for your bag’s “top/outside” to be quilted on.  I used the leftovers from a baby quilt that I cut from the bottom.  If you make your bag 21″ wide, you will need 42″ of batting (This will hopefully make more sense as this goes along)
  • Magnet Clasp I use the silver-colored ones, but I just don’t like gold…Also, I haven’t been able to find many different sizes, but if you can, you will want one that is about 3/4ths of an inch.
  • 7″ zipper I got all of my zippers from Zipit on Etsy, you have a WIDE range of colors, lengths, and they always get to me super fast.
  • Sewing machine needs: a quarter-inch seam foot, a quilting foot, a zipper foot, at least 3 bobbins with coordinating top thread.
  • Iron and Ironing board or press board
  • Pins
  • Rotary cutter (or scissors…I just have shaky hands!)

Part 1: Making Postage Stamps

After you iron your strips, separate them into groups of 3.  Decide how wide you want your bag to be, and cut your strips twice as long as you want your bag wide. (42″ strips = 20″ wide bag, 21″ strips = 10″ wide bag, etc) *You will leave the one single strip for later*

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Sew your trimmed strips together (in groups of three) with a quarter inch seam.  Now you will cut your sewn together strips into 2 1/2″ pieces.

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Repeat this until all of your strips have been sew together, then cut into 2 1/2″ wide strips.  Arrange them in whatever order you want, so long as they are 6 squares tall.  I just tried to keep similar patterns away from each other.  Press your seams however you would like, I press mine just going the same way because this is simpler for me and uses less pins.

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This was as diverse as my layout got with 6 patterns. My patterns were directional, and I didn’t want them to be upside down, but I’m sure I could have mixed it up a little more.

I ended up with 2 extra pieces, that I have at the top, which you SHOULD NOT THROW OUT!  You will use these for your flap.

Match up your 3 square pieces end to end, and sew them together in sets of 2. In other words, you are sewing together columns.  If you would like you can chain stitch these.  I did that on a second bag I made similarly to this and it was just fine.  Soon you will have several columns sewn together *Yipee!*  Again, press your seams however you would like, but I press mine going one way.

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Your next step is to sew these columns together.  Keep in mind: you’re making two halves of a bag.  So divide your columns into two even sets.  If you have an odd number, simply cut one of your columns in half and put one half in each pile.  Yes, it will be okay.  I did this and it’s totally fine.  Just add your half pieces to the ends.  You will want to pin to make sure your squares are on point.

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Pinned and waiting!
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Sewn and pressed! You don’t have to press your seams this way.

If for some reason your two sides aren’t exactly the same size, just square them up with a little trim so that they’re the same.

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My squares are 2 1/2″ wide, so I cut them in half at 1 1/4″

 

Now you have two postage stamp pieces for your outsides of your bag!

Step 2: Cutting out all your non quilted pieces

Obviously you have ironed all of your fabric.  I’m just going to assume that you have, and if you haven’t, you’d better get to it then come back.  I’ll wait.

Make sure the edges of your yardage are squared.  When I go to the fabric store, sometimes I get a wonky end, so I just even it up before I start cutting anything out of it.

Place one of your postage stamp pieces on your main fabric at the folded side, with the bottom of your piece at the fold.  This is to ensure your base of your bag will not have a seam inside.  You can trace your bag’s outside or just cut around it.  I place my ruler on the edge and use my rotary cutter. *so risky!* 

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Next, from the other end of your fabric, cut two 4″ wide strips.  To make this easier, I fold my fabric in half, end to fold, and cut that way.  This will give you your two pieces for your handles.  They should be 4″x 42″ roughly.

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Next, you will cut out the pieces for your pockets.  You should have plenty of your yardage left over to cut these pieces.

  • 2 Outside pockets: You will cut 4 6 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ pieces
  • Zipper pocket: You will cut 2 8″ x 5 1/2″ pieces
  • Inside split pocket: You will cut 2 6 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ pieces.  You may want to make this larger or smaller depending on the size of your phone.  I have a Galaxy S3 and it fits in my larger side of my split pocket.

Now, we have all of our pieces cut out!  It will be done before you know it!

Step 3: Quilting

Just like how you would do for a quilt, put your postage stamp “top” on your batting with a little hang over around.  You don’t need a bottom/back.  *NOTE* If your fabric you’re using to line your bag is white or really light and a little opaque, you will want to use a light-colored thread in your bobbin.  Otherwise you could see your thread inside of your bag *gasp*

What I did was very simple cross hatch type quilting, but you can quilt your bag any way you would like.  I have done straight line quilting that stay about a quarter-inch apart from left to right, I’ve done FMQ and it all looks great.  This is all 100% up to you.  Just quilt either side of your postage stamp pieces and bam!  Awesomeness!
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Step 4: Purse parts, ASSEMBLE!

From here, you can do any of these parts in whichever order you feel like.  I don’t think I’ve done it in the same order twice to be honest.  But, if you need an order to do them (which is understandable!):

Handle making, pocket making, zipper pocket, attaching inside pocket, attaching outside pockets, magnet strap & flap, attach handles.

The only thing you do have to kind of stick to is attaching the handle straps after you do the outside pockets.  I mean, you can’t really attach pockets under your handles…

  • Handle straps

After you have ironed out your strap pieces, which are 4″ x 42″ as a reminder, you will fold and press them in quarters.  so you will fold the edges to the inside, the same way you would make binding tape.
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From here, you will press your strap in half, again, just like binding tape.  Then you will sew the “open” side together, then sew the “closed” side down.  You could add a third middle stitch if you would like; it will be purely for decoration.  Also, if you wanted a more plush feeling handle, you could add a strip of batting inside before you sew it down. Repeat for the other handle.

  • Pockets

These pockets are very simple.  So easy that even I can do it.  Take your pocket fabric, sew them right sides together with a quarter-inch seam, and leave a turn spot about 3 inches open.  Clip your corners without cutting your thread, flip them right sides out, press.  Topstitch over your opening.  Your outside pockets you don’t really have to worry so much if this is an “ugly top stitch” because you will put that topstitched side under a handle.  Top stitch along the side of your pocket that will be the top.  Purely decoration.  Yes, literally that easy.
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You will repeat this for both outside pockets, as well as your inside split pocket.

  • Zipper pocket

Okay, for this, if you have a better way or a way you prefer to do, PLEASE feel free to do that here!!!  My zipper is about an inch from side to side, so I am making a half-inch “spot” for it.  So you will place one side of your zipper pocket on top of your lining fabric, right sides together.  I don’t have a good depiction of this simply because my zipper pocket fabric and lining are the same color.  I put my zipper pocket about 2 1/2″ down from the top edge, just so it’s not oddly right there, but it’s not WAY down in there, either.  So, on the wrong side of your pocket fabric, you will draw a rectangle.  I do half the size of my zipper width, and I make sure my zipper will hang off either sides of the pocket when it is done.
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Sew around your rectangle, then cut through the middle using either a rotary cutter or your seam ripper.  I use my rotary cutter simply because it’s neater.
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Flip your pocket through the opening you’ve made, and press it to the back so that it’s as even and neat as you can get it.  I always have a problem with this, but it doesn’t seem to affect my end result.

Sew in your zipper.  I find it a little easier to sew in from the back side of the zipper, but you can feel free to sew it in any way you would like.  I also suggest sewing the two ends of your zipper together so that it’s not more open on one end than the other.
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Clip the ends off of your zipper *Don’t use your good fabric scissors!!! OMG!* and then put your other piece of zipper pocket fabric on the back side, right sides together with the other half of the pocket, and sew them together.  Viola!  Zipper pocket!
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  • Split inside pocket

What I suggest doing before you attach this pocket is to place your phone on the pocket, to one side and draw a line.  I leave a little slack space so that it’s not too tight for your phone to go in there.
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Place your phone across from your zipper pocket, and pin it into place.  You will sew around, stopping at your line, sewing up, then back sew all the way down *it makes it more strongly sewn* then continue around the rest of your pocket.  It’s really that easy.
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  • Outside Pockets

Decide where you want your pockets to sit on your postage stamp piece, and then flip it down and pin the bottom to where it will go.
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Sew this edge to your quilted postage stamp piece, then flip it up and press and pin it down.  This makes your pocket bottom look nicer. 🙂
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  • Attach straps

This will not be hard, I promise!  Take your straps, and see how long you want them to be on your bag.  Maybe you want short handles, or long handles.  I like an over the shoulder bag, so my handles aren’t very long.  Determine your length, then pin your handles down so that at least a quarter of an inch of the inside of your strap covers the sides of the pockets. *Make sure your handles are going the same way so your don’t get some weird twisted handle!*  Pin below the pocket, around the middle of the pocket, and about an inch away from the top of your bag.  Sew along where you sewed your straps together to the bag, stopping at your pin at the top!  This is to give you turning space later.
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You can see I skipped ahead in my actual purse making when I took these pictures!!  Oops!

  • Magnet clasps and flaps

So, you will use your magnet’s instructions, which, come on how hard is this, people?!  You make tiny holes, you stick the tabs through, you put a stabilizer in there, and you close the tabs.  Anyway…I put the “female” side on my bag, and I will put the “male” side on the flap, which brings us to making the flap!!!  And attaching it!  I put the female side in the second block down from the center.
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Just like before, you will take your two extra pieces I  mentioned in the beginning, and sew them end to end. *This will be your postage stamp side*  This will give you a good 12 inches of flap.  If you want, you could do a 6 inch flap, by sewing your two pieces side to side.  This is completely up to you.  My pictures are showing a 12 inch flap.
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Take that extra strip, also that I mentioned in the beginning, and attach the male side of the magnet.  Again, use the manufacturer’s directions.  Then put your postage stamp piece right sides together with your extra strip, and place a piece of batting on top.  Sew around this, leaving the “bottom” open, clip your corners and flip it right side out.  Press this, and top stitch around the edges.
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Determine how far down your strap needs to go to reach your magnet on the other side.  I put my female side of the magnet on the second square down, so I will attach my flap on the lower half of the second square on the opposite side.  To attach this flap, make an incision through your postage stamp side of the bag JUST big enough for your strap to fit snuggly into.  You do want it to lay flat, but just make sure it does fit and there isn’t much wiggle room.
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Zigzag stitch over this.  I sewed over mine 3-4 times back and forth just to make sure it was plenty secure.
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Oh wow we’re almost done!!!!

Step 5: The final chapter

(what?!  This is just taking so long I’m trying to be creative over here)

Now, you have your two bag outside pieces, with their handles, pockets and magnet flap attached, and your lining with the pockets added inside.
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From here, you will place your bag outsides right sides together, making sure that your handles match up at the bottom, and sew around the edges.  I try really hard to do a quarter-inch seam, but I usually end up with a half-inch seam.  Trim off the excess handles from the bottom of your bag.
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You will repeat this with your bag inside, with the only exception being you will leave a four inch turning spot.  I back-stitch and forward stitch over the ends of this spot multiple times to ensure that when you’re turning, it’s not going to pop and split all the way down.  Confession:  I usually hear a few pops when I am turning my bag, but since I’ve started overly back and forth stitching, the pops have been less severe.
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Your next step is to square the bottom.  Don’t cry in fear, okay?  I used to, but I have conquered the world of squared corners, and I will help you do the same!  With your bag part (inside or outside, either way you will have to do the same on both pieces) turned inside out, take your side seam and match it to your bottom seam.  Pin this down, and determine how wide you want the base of your bag to be.  Since my bag is so teeny, I made mine two inches.  You will mark a line that is half as you want your bag’s base to be, deep into the triangle you have formed, and you will sew along this line.  For example, I want a two inch wide base.  I made a line one inch into the triangle from the tip.

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MAKE SURE YOU TURN YOUR BAG RIGHT SIDE OUT AND MAKE SURE THAT YOUR BASE IS AS WIDE AS YOU WANT BEFORE YOU CUT OFF THE TRIANGLE TIP.

Sit your bag pieces together, and make sure that they fit together nicely.  They should, because they are friends and love each other.  Obviously.

Now, turn your quilted outside inside out.  Place your lining right side out, inside of your bag’s outside.  Take your magnet flap and handles, and tuck them down into your bag’s outside pockets.
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Pin around the top of your bag.  I suggest at least six pin spots: at each spot where your handles will be on your finished bag, and at each of your side seams.  Sew all the way around this edge.
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Now….turn your bag.  Okay this is such a pain.  It literally doesn’t want to come out.  What I try to do is dig my handles out of those pockets and gently convince them to be a leader and show the rest of the bag the way out.  Once you have finally gotten your bag flipped right side out, and you’ve stopped questioning this tutorial and all life decisions, sew your turning hole closed.  I just do the tiniest seam I can manage.  If I didn’t hate them so much I would use a ladder stitch.  Ladder stitching is one of those things that make me question life decisions, so I reserve it for stuffed animals.
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Put your bag lining down into your bag, oh and it just looks so lovely right?  WAIT YOU ARE NOT DONE YET (OMG THIS IS NEVER GOING TO END!)

Pin your handles up, and sew a quarter-inch seam around the top edge of your bag, sewing over your handles.  This will give them a little extra needed stability.  I back-stitch over my handles at least once for each handle, so I like to start my stitches on a handle, since I will have to back-stitch anyway.  You can do this a second time a quarter-inch down from that seam, the more times you do it the more secure it will be, and nothing is wrong with a little extra security!
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Step 6: The dramatic and 100% satisfying ending to a series, kind of like Breaking Bad.

Wash your bag.  Yep, wash it.  Put it in the washer on the gentle cycle with a little white vinegar and detergent.  I usually throw a few small towels in there too just so it’s not going on in there all alone.  Then dry, I just use the regular cycle I do for drying.  *don’t forget your dryer sheet! :D*

Take a puppy break
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Take our your finished  bag and marvel at its gloriousness!  This is also when I check for any possible popped stitches or anything.
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And you’re done!  And look at that awesome new bag you just made!  Or…if you just wanted to read all the way through this *Bless your heart* and you want one but don’t want to do all this stuff, just let me know in my etsy shop and I’ll see what we can work up!!!!

Thank you for bearing with me through this tutorial!  Let me know what you think!  If you make a bag using this tutorial let me know!  Tag me on Istagram (@sewfluffincute) I’d love to see it!

Until next time!  Happy sewing!

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