You made it! Week 6 of our Summer Sewing Tutorial Series- Making our shopping bag! We’ve waited so long to get here, let’s just dive in! :) Husbie Zac will be our guinea pig and model again this week. So, without further ado…
Grab your pattern pieces from week 4 when we cut our pattern out. Remember these?
You’ll also need:
- Thread that matches your project
- A ruler
- A colored pencil, pen or sewing chalk
- A safety pin
- Your threaded sewing machine, bobbin and all (for a how to, check out last week’s post)
- An iron
- An hour or two :)
First things first: Seams and seam allowances. A seam is where two or more pattern pieces join with a row of stitching (you might’ve heard of side seams before? On a skirt, this is where a skirt front and skirt back fabric pieces join together on the side of your body). This pattern calls for 5/8″ seam allowances (which are pretty standard for home sewing). What is a seam allowance? It is the amount of fabric you leave between the row of stitching that you make with the sewing machine, and the edge of the fabric pieces. If it doesn’t already, it’ll all make sense in a minute.
You can’t stitch right on the edge of the fabric, it’s always got to be just a little bit off. And your sewing machine will have marks like the ones pictured below that act as a guide to help you keep your stitch line straight (for more practice/help sewing a straight line and how to use these guides, check out the video tutorial here). To help Zac keep his line of stitching straight, I put some blue painter’s tape on my sewing machine to extend the 5/8″ guide.
Step 1: Prep Bag Bottom
Alright! So to get started, you’ll want to take your bag bottom (piece #1 from the pattern download), and fold it in half right sides together*, matching your notches. You’ll notice that if you fold it in one direction, the notches won’t match, but if you fold it in the other direction, they do. That’s how notches work- they help you make sure you’re putting things together in the right direction! :)
*Rights sides together is a super basic sewing concept that will all make sense in a moment. So most fabrics have a “right” side and a “wrong” side. The right side is the side you want the world to see, while the wrong side is the side that doesn’t have the print, or looks funny, or is whatever you want on the inside of the garment. So when you’re sewing, you typically don’t want your seam allowances (described above) on the outside of your garment or shopping bag. (It would be like wearing your clothing inside out). The way that you get the seam allowances on the inside of your bag or garment is by sewing with right sides together. It means sewing on the wrong side of the fabric, with the right sides of your fabric pattern pieces folded together (if there’s folding involved, like in this step), or laid together so that they face one another (like we’ll do in the next step). This means too that you’ll always usually have to turn the garment (or bag) right side out at some point during the process. Which is super fun! :)
You’ll want to pin the sides together to hold them in place. Too many pins and it’ll slow you down a ton while sewing, too few and your fabric will be slip sliding allover while you’re trying to sew. Check out the video below to see where/how Zac pinned his fabric. He left the pin heads off the edge of the fabric so that they’d be easier to pull out as he was sewing, and so that if he accidentally sewed over a pin, it wouldn’t cause problems. Not a bad idea! :)
If you measured your own pattern pieces rather than using the download (and so don’t have notches), you’ll want to fold the bag bottom so that the fold is in the side that’s 11.625″ wide. You want a long skinny piece after you make the fold, like the photo above.
Alright! So now you’re going to sew along the two short edges of this bag bottom piece. Watch Zac do his second in the video below. Remember, if you need some guidance taking that first stitch, this video will be a big help!
Hooray! You did it! Now iron those two seams open (you don’t want to iron the seam like how you sewed it- flat- you want to iron it open so that it’s one layer thick. Make sense?), and move on to step two! :)
On to Step 2! Bag Bottom Corners
Next you’re going to fold your bag bottom so that it lays flat like a triangle on one side- see the image below, or check out this video where Zac walks you through it.
- Take a ruler and find the spot on the hypotenuse/longest leg of the triangle (hello 10th grade geometry :)) that is 4.5″ long.
- Draw a line directly on the fabric here with chalk or colored pencil. This will be your stitch line!
- Pin along the stitch line (either across like in the last example, or along, like below. Either way, be careful not to sew over your pins).
- Sew along your 4.5″ long line.
- Repeat the above steps with the other side of your bag bottom.
Step 3 – Attaching the bag bottom to our tshirt/bag middle. We’re working our way up!
- Turn your tshirt section inside out- this’ll make it easier to put right sides together.
- With right sides together, match the side seams of the tshirt to the side seams of your bag bottom.
- Pin the two pieces together all around. If piece is a little bit bigger than the other, you can lightly stretch the pieces to work together (this is called easing the two pieces together).
- After pinning the two pieces together, sew them. It doesn’t matter where in the circle you start (I usually go for a side seam). Check out the video of Zac sewing here.
- Next, iron the seam open. Zac chose to iron on the right side of the fabric, but I usually go for the wrong side- that way if the iron is too hot any marks might be kept to the inside…
Step 4 – The bag’s top band!
- Grab your top band piece and start by folding it in half along the long edge (wrong sides together this time…) and ironing a crease in the middle.
- Next, unfold the band, and this time with right sides together, sewing the band along the short edge to create a circle of fabric.
- Next, iron the seam open, and then fold the circle back in half longways along your ironing line. Re-iron your original crease here. So pretty!
- Next we’re going to attach the top band to the rest of the bag. It’ll seem like this piece doesn’t have a wrong side, folded in half the way it is, and that’s kind of true. What we need to do is line up the band’s seam with either of the bag’s side seams, then pin the raw edges of the band (doubled like they are since it’s folded in half) to the raw edge of the right side of the bag:
- Sew, then iron open. Now your bag has a beautious top band! :)
Step 5 – Strappy straps!
- Fold each strap in half long ways and pin.
- Then sew along the long edge of each of the strap pieces.
- Next, turn your bag straps right side out using a safety pin:
Next, iron them flat, and now we’ll attach the straps to the bag! Left photo: On our bag, we measured 4″ from the side seam on either side and pinned each end of the strap to the bag (strap end on the inside of the bag so that it’s hidden from the outside). Right photo: We also folded under the bottom edge of the strap, towards the inside of the bag so that the raw edges of the strap were hidden.
And there you have it! You just finished your shopping bag! Kick butt! Please take a photo and post it over on my facebook page- I’d love to see what you did! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post below!
Wooot! Great job! Banana cheers for all!
Until next time, xoxo