**UPDATE** If you'd like this tutorial (and any of my others) in PDF format click here.
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At the moment one of the media hot topic issues in the UK is the environment. In the last week there's been a lot of coverage about plastic bags.
In many ways plastic bags are a pain in the butt, they clog up your kitchen draws (I've made a bag dispenser for my kitchen) and they are so wasteful. Check out these placcy bag stats:
- Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute.
- In 2001 there was 1,678,900 tonnes of plastic packaging in the waste stream, an increase from 1,600,000 in 2000. Research conducted in September 2000 indicated that UK consumers used eight billion plastic carrier bags per year.
- According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion)
- Read more stats here and here:
The environmentally friendly thing to do is use reusable bags, but the ones supplied by the supermarket are plastic as well and you end doing some free advertising for the supermarket (grrr!). Another thing, how many times have you decided to make an impromptu visit to the shops only to find you don't have one of those reusable bags on you, oh and those reusable bags aren't exactly pretty are they?
Enter the pretty, reusable, strong, and roomy groceries bag with comfy bag handles, and with it's own bag cosy (or stuff sack). I have used cotton throughout, and the stuff sack has a strap and metal clip so you don't end up losing the sack (which is something that always happens to me). This bag should take just over an hour to make, and your Mum and your buddies will love one... I hope you like it, and I'd love to know what you think of this bag :)
::UPDATE:: To see just what this bag is capable of click here.
In this project you will pick up/apply these skills:
- Sew a fool-proof curved gusset - fool-proof because this easy method will prevent twisting and mis-aligning of the gusset (this always used make me very angry. Grrrr!!!). This method works just as well for squared bag gussets. Gussets are a brilliant way of adding volume to your bags ('gusset' is such a daft word...).
- Sew a padded bag handle - handles cutting into fingers is not a good look.
- Sew a fabric strap - with a metal spring clip.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Pretty fabric and comfy bag handles will help make groceries shopping less of a pain in the bum. Nice and roomy, longer lasting, those handles are soo comfy, and the bag is much much prettier than it's plastic cousin don'tcha think?
Here's How I Put It Together
Shopping list (as if you were buying from a shop, if not using stash fabrics)
- 1/2 yard of farm yard fabric for the exterior and matching thread (50cm).
- 1/2 yard of stripy fabric for the gusset, handles and stuff sack and matching thread (50cm).
- 1/2 yard cotton lining fabric and matching thread (50cm).
- 1 x 44" x 4" strip of double sided fusible fleece (112cm x 10cm)
- 1 x 1/2" D-ring (13mm)
- 1 x 1/2" bolt snap (13mm)
NB all seam allowances are 1cm (3/8") unless otherwise stated.
1. Make up your pattern - there is one pattern piece which is the main body. This pattern is shown halved. I have drawn a free hand curve between both of the points marked '9cm'. The lines either end of this curve are straight lines (the side edge & the bottom edge). Mark these 9cm marks on your pattern, they are important for later.
Double your fabric over and place the pattern piece on the fold of the fabric before cutting out.
From the main pattern piece pattern cut; 2 x pieces Farmyard fabric, and 2 x pieces lining fabric.
2. Cut the other fabric pieces - also cut:
- One piece each of 12cm x 112cm (4 6/8" x 44") stripy fabric, and lining fabric for the gusset.
- One piece of 20cm x 112cm (8" x 44") of stripy fabric for the bag handles.
- One piece of 22cm 30cm (8 5/8" x 12") of stripy fabric for the stuff sack.
- One piece of 16cm x 22cm (6 2/8" x 12") of stripy fabric for the stuff sack lid.
- One piece of 5cm x 30cm (2" x 12") of stripy fabric for the stuff sack fabric strap.
3. Make the comfy bag handles - Take the long strip of stripy bag handle fabric and fold it in half length ways with the right side facing out, and press.
Then lay the strip of double sided fusible fleece down the centre of the fabric. Fold the long edges of the fabric into the centre, and press - this will activate the adhesive in the fusible fleece and bond it to the fabric. Fold the resulting strip in half length ways again.
4. Make bag cozy/stuff sack fabric straps - Make up the straps in the same was as for the bag handles as in Step 3. except there is no need for fusible fleece and do not divide the strap into two equal lengths. Instead, divide the strap into 20cm & 10cm (8" & 4") lengths.
Take the longer (20cm) of the two straps open out, fold the short raw edge down 1cm, and close up and top stitch the strap all around. Thread the stitched end of the strap though the eye of the bolt snap. Fold over the end and stitch to secure the clip.
Thread the D-ring through the short strap, fold in half and secure the D-ring to the centre of the strap by stitching.
5. Make the bag cozy/stuff sack - take the stripy stuff sack fabric piece piece (wrong side up) and fold in one of the short edges 1cm, then fold in again another 1cm, and top stitch. Repeat for the other short edge in half lengthways.
Take the stuff sack lid fabric piece(wrong side out) and fold in half bringing the long edges together. Stitch the long edges together to form a tube. Turn tube right side out and press.
Position the long fabric strap onto the right side of the stuff sack fabric 10 cm (4") down from the top edge, and position the short strap 12cm (4 6/8") down from the top edge as shown in the pic. The pins in the pic are there so you can more clearly see the position of the straps.
6. Sew exterior bag - Remember those 9cm marks that we made on our pattern? These marks are going to help us sew a gusset that is nice, even and straight (and not twisted and rubbish!).
The blue dots represent the 9cm markings that are on our pattern (I have also used the central creaseline as a marker too, just to make damn sure!). We have to transfer those markings onto both sides of the gusset, the front, and the back bag pieces so that they all correspond with each other when we pin and stitch everything together (this is super important; if the marks don't match you'll end up with yet another twisted gusset and feeling right p**sed off - it used to happen to me every time!)
Righty, pin the gusset to one of the bag pieces so that the right sides are touching each other. Carefully match up the 9cm markings on the gusset and on the bag piece (as shown in the 1st pic) this will prevent 'Hair-rip-outtis' from sewing a twisted gusset! You'll see in the pic that the gusset fabric is too long at the top edge this is because I always make them too long, just in case. This way I can just trim off the excess fabric later.
Be generous with the pins on the bag curves to make life easier for when you stitch them. When you come to stitch the curved corners slow down as you make need to smooth fabric bumps with your fingers as you sew.
Pin the other bag piece to the gusset matching up the 9cm markings as before. Pin and stitch on the bag fabric side (not the gusset side) it's easier! Press the seams open and turn the exterior bag right side out. With any luck you'll find that your bag gusset is nice and even, and you'll think to yourself 'what a clever lady, or gent (Hi Ryan!) I am!'
7. Sew lining - sew lining in the same as the exterior bag except you must leave a 15cm (6") gap in one bottom edge seams.
8. Pin and stitch the exterior bag to the lining - Insert
the exterior bag (right side out) in the lining bag (wrong side out).
The right sides of the exterior and the lining bag should now be
touching each other. Pin the exterior bag to the lining bag at the top edge.
Pin the two bags together at the top edge. For neatness match up the side seams on the lining, and exterior bag.
9. Pull the exterior bag though the hole in the lining - this is always my fave bit. Tease the exterior bag out through the gap and pop the lining into the exterior bag and smooth everything out. Stitch the gap in the lining shut by tucking the raw edges into the hole and top stitching for a neat finish.
Out she comes...
10. Finish making the bag - top stitch all around the top edge. Stitch
the bag handles to the bag - position each end of the bag handles by
measuring in 12cm ( 5") from the bag side seams and stitch in place in
a box-with-a-cross-inside formation for strength (It doesn't matter it
you go over some of the lines to make this formation, the more the
merrier (and stronger).
Top stitch all around the bag and then position the bag handle ends 12cm in from the bag side seam as shown by the blue dots.
Tah Dah one eco friendly, nice to look at, and pretty darn useful reusable groceries bag!!
This 'Bag with it's own cozy' tutorial is my April 07 Whiplash Challenge entry.