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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Make It Yerself!

Update: Erin pointed out to me that this tutorial was missing some pretty important steps. (Uh, like HALF of them!) How embarrassing!!! So I have updated this post with a much better, COMPLETE tutorial. Sorry readers! And thanks Erin!

I complain about my purse a LOT. Most of the time it's while I'm rummaging around in the bottom, trying to find that secret corner - which I'm pretty sure actually contains a passage to Narnia because... honestly, WHERE do things go? - that my lip gloss, change purse, sunglasses, keys, etc have slipped into because they're "TOTALLY not IN here! Stupid stupid purse!" and then I say that I need 3 compartments, and I need LOTS of pockets, and I HATE when they put a zipper on the top of a purse, because, seriously, they're never strong enough... blah blah blah....

Well - I got spoiled this Christmas - my in-laws and husband's grandmother gave me a BRAND SPANKIN' NEW sewing machine! Whoopee!

So, I finally decided that I wasn't going to complain about my purse anymore, I was just going to sew it myself. So I did.

Now, I've sewn a few things.... mostly straight lines to be honest. I've NEVER sewn a bag, let alone a bag with lining.... but hey - go big or go home right? Okay, technically I was already HOME, but you get the point.

I buckled down, made up a pattern, and just went for it. And so I give you - The ULTI-MOM bag. Think Ultimate + Mom = Ulti-Mom

Looks pretty good huh?

So - I was pretty darned proud of myself... and then I shared my proud little moment with all my friends on Craftster - because the Craftster peeps are SO Awesome... and then I started thinking.... Hey - if I can do this.... Anyone could do this.  So I thought I'd share with you what I did. And then maybe you can do it too!

Step 1 - Cut all pieces. No measurements are provided, so make sure that your lining panels (A) sides match up to your side pieces (B) and bottom pieces (C). So if your lining is 10 in long and 12 in wide then your sides should be 10 x 3 and your bottom should be 3 x 12 for example. Also make sure that your outside pieces will be big enough for your lining to fit in! And that your pockets are small enough to fit onto your lining pieces without extending over the edges of your seams *unless you want pokcets like that.

Step 1B - Sew the outside of your bag like this. Take piece (G) and either a) run a basting stitch along the top and gather it in to ruffles  or b) create equally spaced pleats to equal the length of your top band piece (H) then, fold over the bottom of (H) - as if you were going to hem it - and topstitch through the two layers of (H) and one ruffled/gathered piece of (G). Repeat for the other two pieces, then put your two exterior pieces right side together and sew them together making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam. Turn right side out and you'll have your bag exterior.

Step 2 - Take all pocket pieces, fold over each edge by 1/4 in and another 1/4 in and press. Sew down all edges. Choose where you want your pockets to go on your lining pieces (make sure there's an opening at the top!) Sew down 3 of the 4 edges, backstitching at the beginning and end of your seams attaching all pockets to lining pieces.

Step 3 - Take 3 of your lining pieces (A) and 3 of your bottom pieces (C) and attach, open your seams and press flat. Repeat with the other 3 lining pieces (A) upside down at the opposit edge of (C). Open your seams and press flat. Then take your 6 side pieces (B) and attach them on opposite sides of your lining pieces (A). Open your seams and press flat. You should now have 3 lining pieces that look like this:
Step 4 - Take your lining piece and fold it up so it kind of looks like a paper bag. Sew outer edge of piece (B) to the side of (A) that doesn't already have a side attached to it yet. Repeat for other side. Pull out corners of "bag" and sides and sew a line across the corner attaching pieces (B) and (C) together, but making sure that no parts of (A) are caught up in your seam. Repeat for opposite corner. Repeat for other 2 sections. Trim all loose ends and threads, neaten up any seams and zigzag all seams for strength if you like.

Step 5 - You should now have 3 sacs with all the seams on the outside and a nice finished look on the inside. Take two of those pieces and turn them so that they "look" right side out (seams on the inside) and sew along the top edge being careful not to sew the other edges. Turn again and you should have two of the sacs attached together. Repeat for reamaining sac. Then handstitch edges so that all 3 bags are attached.

Step 6 - Now take your outside of your bag and shove it into the center compartment of the liner of your bag. That way you should have RIGHT SIDES of the fabric facing each other. Push the edges of the center compartment down a little bit and pin the edges together of the outside tops of the outside compartments and the sides of all 3 compartments with the tops of your bag. Sew around that seam and leave a 3-4 inch opening for turning.

Step 7 - Turn that sucker and you SHOULD have (provided I wrote this down correctly!) a fully lined 3 compartment bag with no straps and no flap to close it at the top. Yes? Spectacular! Turn down and press the edges of that 3-4 in opening you used for turning but DO NOT SEW IT closed yet. You're going to pick open seams for your straps and you will close that opening when you topstitch around the edges.

Step 8 - This is where you will decide if you want one long cross body strap (like I made) or two shorter shoulder straps. If you're making a long crossbody strap this is what I did. Take a measurement from your hip, up and over your should and back to your hip again, and subtract the width of your bag, less 2 inches. So if that measurement was 60 inches, and the top of your bag was 12, then you'd need a 50 piece, double the width you'd like (plus a bit of seam allowance). That way you'll end up with a 48 in strap and 1 in on either end in between the seams of your bag. (Wow, that sounds a lot more complicated than it really is). Cut that massive piece of fabric, sew down the side of it, turn it right side out (that's a pain, use a chopstick or something) and then roll your strap so that the seam is down the center of the tube and press it flat. That way you don't have a bulky seam at one side of your strap only. You can topstitch all the way around the edge of the strap if you like... I didn't, but it would probably look nicer, and in retrospect if I make this bag again, or were using a lighter fabric than canvas duck, I would do so.

Step 9 - Pick open your seam at either side of your bag, push your strap down about 1 inch in between the outer layer and the lining and pin. Repeat for other side.

Step 10 - Now you can topstitch all the way around the outside top of your bag. Be careful when you're topstitching over the strap as you'll be going through at LEAST 4 layers of fabric and if 3 of them are Canvas, it's going to be tough ;P. Slow and steady wins this race (and breaks less needles - of which, having a couple extra on hand are a good idea).

Step 11 - Now you can feel around where your strap is located and either boxstitch (diagram below) on the strap or just do a bunch of seams if you're feeling less fussy. Make sure your strap is really secure though as it bears the weight of the entire bag and all the randomness that you pack in there!
A simple boxstitch. Pick a starting point - sew a straight line, with your needle down into your fabric, lift your foot and turn your fabric 90 degrees, sew a line, lift foot, turn, sew a line, etc until you've stitched a box. Then, sew a line from corner to corner in your box, making sure you backstitch the ENTIRE line of that "X"

Step 12 - Look for any loose threads, unfinished looking seams, etc and neaten them up. Now, (OPTIONAL) cut a flap of fabric the same as the outside of your bag and either hem all the edges or zigzag (or, if you're using a lighter fabric or using a magnetic snap or sewn in snap instead, you can cut two identical pieces, sew them together and turn). Make a large buttonhole at one end. Attach the flap to the outside center of the "back" of your bag (now's the time to decide!), use a few lines or a boxstitch to make sure it's secure. Using the buttonhole as a guide, line up where you need your button. Attach a large button to the front of your bag (hand sew). Test to make sure it's in the right spot.

Step 13 - Go over your bag, make sure it looks alright, (fix any mistakes, or call them "art"), put it on and prance around your house in front of your family/husband/wife/kids/parents and make sure EVERYONE knows how seriously awesome you are. Revel in your own awesomeness until someone asks you to stop. Do or do not stop - it's up to you, but now - you have your very own, brand new, made-by-YOU ULTIMOM* bag! Yay!

And here's a couple more pics - y'know - just 'cause. ;)

Let me know if you make one! And enjoy your new Ulti-Mom*


*It's cool if you make this and you're NOT a Mom. Just sayin'. It's cool.


  1. Hi there - looks great but the tutorial goes from step 5 to 12!! Would love to make one but need the other steps. :) Erin

    1. Erin,
      You're SO Right! I don't know what happened there! (Silly MS Paint). But I am editing this post POST HASTE with corrections, and steps 6-11 as well. Thanks for pointing that out to me! Eep!

    2. No worries. Question - do you use an interfacing? Or is it the stuff inside that makes it look like it stands up? I've used some batting before and I can't say I like the look but I do like the effect you've created.

  2. I didn't use any interfacing on this bag because the exterior fabric was a heavy canvas, so def. strong enough to stand up a bit on it's own. If you're using a lightweight fabric you'd probably need something. I've made a couple of other bags (not this one) but used a fusible fleece - you iron it to your fabric. It's not heavy light batting, and it doesn't make your fabric stiff looking like some interfacings can. You can get it at most big-box dept. type store craft sections. Or... just use a heavier fabric! I just got some 100% cotton fabric at Ikea - and it's surprisingly heavy. It's going to be perfect for my next bag. Good luck! And if you make one, let me know!

    1. Thanks Tea. I was thinking a heavier material anyway! Awesome.

      My only confusion now is the construction of the outside of the bag - it appears that there are two pieces but the instructions don't say when to put them together - is this done to create a pocket on the outside? In any case, I think I can work it out!! Thanks for your help!

    2. Hi Erin,
      The bag exterior is actually 4 pieces. Two wider bottom pieces that get gathered in at each side to the two top pieces which form a band around the top. So in the pattern pictures they're labelled as pieces H and G. So, cut two of H and two of G from your exterior fabric. G, the wider part of the bottom will be gathered in with pleats or ruffles (depending on how much wider it is than piece H) and then sewn to the bottom of piece H. Then when you've done that on each side, you'll put the right sides together and sew all the way around it to create your bag exterior. Does that make sense?!

      Also - I'm going to have to hire you to proof-read any other tutorial I make! Thanks for catching that!

    3. I added in a step 1B to discuss the creation of the bag exterior. Thanks again Erin!!!


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