01 February 2013

Sew Your Own Project Bag

Last week I wrote a post on a bundle that was posted to Shanghai for a dear friend, Jaya, which included a few handmade items - one of them being a project bag, which I call The shanghai Bag, that would be good to carry your bigger projects.
 ....it was part of this pack....
A couple of my friends had a few queries about the construction of this bag. 
So I've put together this post on how to sew it up my red and black Shanghai Bag......

You'll need two contrasting fabrics - one for the outer shell and one for the lining. 
For info: though I call it a lining this being a reversible bag you can use either side on the outside.
The ready dimensions of the bag:
Width :  17",
height:  9.5",
base  :  2.25"

I picked a black-white-red (colours my friend likes) check weave for the outside and a red printed fabric for the inside lining. To embellish it I added a fabric flower made from the red lining fabric.
Sewing the main body:
Cut out two rectangles from both the fabrics measuring 18" wide and 25" long.
Fold one of the shorter edges to about a third of the way up - in this case it was 10". The rest of the fabric will become the fold-over flap with the closure loop. 
(That's the pincushion my lovely friend Medha, from Gurgaon, made for me  :))
Pin the sides and sew along both the sides. This'll be the main body of the bag.
(The tape measure and the white paper are there just to show the folded side).
Repeat this for the inner fabric - with a small exception. On one of the side seams leave a gap of about 3" - this is you'll turn the bag inside out to give you a reversible finish.
This shows the gap you left in the side seam.....
Making corners:
Here, you can go ahead and sew up the bag as a flat one or you can take another 10 minutes to create squared corners for the bag to sit on.
To make these - pull apart the sides of the pouch you created so you get a corner - like shown below......
Press this seam back onto the bottom fold of the pouch and pin in place. Mark a line perpendicular to the seam that is 1.5" from the point of the triangle.  Do this for both the corners and repeat for the lining too.
Sew across this line. Like so.....
You can now snip off the corners. I left them there and just ironed them towards the base just to give additional support.
When turned right side out they'll look like this....
Adding a looped closure:
Cut out a strip of cloth from either of the fabrics about 4" long and 1.25" wide.
Fold the two long sides in and fold over again to get a clean strip. Sew along the length.
Cut to size according to the button it will be used with.
Find the centre of the flap and pin loop facing the inside of the bag. Pin it or sew in place with a short seam so it doesn't slip while sewing.
At this stage sew on a button and, if you like, an embellishment - I added a red button and a fabric flower that I made using bits of the lining fabric.
Sewing the final seams:
Once done, turn the inner piece inside-out so the seams are inside.
With the outer shell having seams outside, place the lining inside the shell - match the edges and the flaps of both pieces to each other. This means - you will have the right sides of both pieces next to each other and the seams on the outer sides.
Something like this......Sorry - that is a terribly blurred pic but that's the only one I had.
If you like you can cut out shorted edges of the flap at an angle to get tapering sides for the flap as done for this bag.....
 Pin the edges together. Sew along the entire edge.
At the corners you will need to turn the bag at a right angle - let the needle down into the fabric, push up the presser foot turn the cloth at 90 degrees and continue sewing.
Now do you remember the little gap you left in the inside seam? Turn the bag inside out through this gap......
Like so....
Fit the lining side inside the outer shell......

Pull all corners out - use a seam ripper if you have to. Iron to flatten the edges. Sew an over seam to neaten the edges. Sew the gap in the lining closed or whip stitch by hand. 
You are done!!! Throw your project in and off you go.....

 Turn a corner.... :)
Go on, show your bag off  :)
Have fun!

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