Tutorial Number 6

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Lay Flat Sewing Bag with English Paper Pieced Pockets

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Unfortunately I don't have any step by step photos of construction so you will have to use your imagination...

The outside pocket and small inside pocket are both EPP; the blocks are both my own design - the outside pocket is a twist on a heart log cabin and the inside pocket design I think looks flower-like especially with the small green triangles.       

I used centimetre grid paper to draft my blocks and all fabric measurements were made with very loose centimetre measurements - but can be easily adjusted for whatever size you want to make.

The grid on centimetre graph paper is 5 millimetres per square and 5 of these squares measures just under an inch.

The large heart design is based on a square of 7x7 of 5x5 squares (hope that makes sense).  And the 3 smaller hearts are based on a square of 4x4.


Sewing Bag Tutorial 8LMQG February Challenge 5

I can supply the block designs if there are any requests - as it is non symmetrical I'm finding it difficult to recreate using basic draw shapes - but I can re-draft them and scan if needed.

I have pieced the block using a green thread and then hand quilted in the ditch - just the block and backing fabric - with purple thread.

I then bound the pocket in the contrasting turquoise binding.

Of course the beauty with this bag is that you can personalise it with whatever design you want to use - even just using a fabric that you love.

The inside pocket I enveloped – whipstitching all but the bottom of the middle block with right sides together then turning out and whipstitching the hole closed and then hand quilted using green thread . I pieced the orange blocks with orange thread and the middle block with green thread.

Constructing the bag:

For the main body of the bag you will need: (using my measurements) including seam allowance.

  • 4 pieces 38 cm x 25 cm – sides 2 for the outside and 2 for the lining

  • 2 pieces 38 cm x 11cm – base 1 for the outside and 1 for the lining

  • 4 (or 8) pieces 25cm x 11 cm – sides either one or 2 flaps each side depending on your preference

  • 2 pieces 7 cm x 103 cm – handles (I used fabric which I have several metres of – but if needed you could have pieced handles in either 2,3 or 4 pieces)

    For the large inside pockets as I used non-printed fabric I didn't use interfacing and only one layer of fabric – if it has too much in it it really sags. So I would suggest if you want to use the bag for quite heavy things to have 2 layers and interfacing.

  • 2 (or 4) pieces 38 cm x 24 cm – inside pockets and the same in interfacing if using.

  • a few strips 4-5cm wide and in total (I used 2 different colours) about 2 metres long (maybe more) altogether for binding and button loops. If you have extra you can make it into a thread holder as I did.

You can either construct the lining first or the outside – depends on your preference.

For the outside you will need:

  • the two 38 cm x 25 cm pieces in your choice of fabric for the outside

  • one 38 cm x 11 cm piece in your choice of fabric for the outside

  • the two 7 cm x 103 cm pieces for the handles (either long lengths or pieced)

  • the outside pocket (or pockets if you want a pocket on the other side as well)

  • 4 pieces of binding fabric about 39 cm long each


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  1. Sew the folded over binding onto the top of both of the 38 cm x 25 cm pieces.

  2. Taking one of the 38 cm 25 cm pieces mark 19 cm the middle of the long side. Also find the middle of the pocket – pin the pieces together matching the mid points – make sure to have the seam allowance on the bottom of the pocket folded out.

  3. Taking the two pieces for the handles – sew with the right sides together and turn right side out and press with the seam on an outside edge.

  4. Pin the handle on the pocket with the seamed edge lining up with the crease/seam allowance on the pocket, and leaving a seam allowance along the bottom.

  5. Sew the handles on - I set the needle to the right and using the edge of the foot on the edge of the handle as a guide stitch from the bottom up to the top stopping just before the binding turning the foot right angles stitching across to the other side, turning the foot right angles again and stitching back to the bottom. Repeat on the other side. There is lots of room for making it a feature by using decorative stitches or threads – or just basic as I did.

  6. The side without a pocket is a little trickier – but using the pocket side as a guide pin the handle as attach as before.

  7. Pin the 38 cm x 11 cm piece to the 2 sides with right sides together and seam with a regular seam allowance.

For the inside you will need:

  • the two 38 cm x 25 cm pieces in your choice of fabric for the inside.

  • The one 38 cm x 11 cm piece in your choice of fabric for the inside

  • the two (or 4) 38 cm x 24 cm pieces in your choice of fabric for the inside pockets

  • if using interfacing 2 pieces 38 cm x 24 cm

  • 2 pieces of binding fabric about 39 cm long each.

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  1. If making pockets with a patterned fabric and interfacing – iron the interfacing onto the wrong side of two of the 38 cm x 24 cm pieces for the pockets.

  2. Then iron the other 2 pieces for the pockets to the pieces with interfacing making sure that the wrong sides are together.

  3. Fold the binding fabric in half and sew right sides together to the tops of the pockets.

  4. Sew down the binding making sure to fold the seam allowance up and use the seam as a guide as to where the edge of the binding should sit.

  5. Pin the pockets to the lining matching the bottom edge.

  6. Pin the combined pocket lining pieces to the 38 cm x 11 cm piece with right sides together.

  7. Sew the 2 seams on either side of the inside bottom.

For each flap you will need:

  • 2 pieces 25 cm x 11 cm – so if you are making 2 that is 4 pieces or if you are making 4; 8 pieces of the fabric/s of your choice.

  • 2 or 4 12 cm lengths of the binding fabric.

  1. If you want to have integrated button loops pin the loops in position on the right side of one piece before pining to the second piece.

  2. With wrong sides together seam one short side and one long side.

  3. Turn the pieces right side out making sure to push the corner out – I use my scissors. Press.

  4. Fold the binding fabric in half pin to the top edge of the flap on the side that will be the outside of the bag and sew across the top. Hand sew the binding down folding the end in on the finished side.

  5. Pin the flaps right sides together to the side of ling/pockets making sure to match the bottom seam to the seams on either side of he bottom.

Making up the bag:

  1. Lay the outside right side up and place the lining right side down on top matching the bottom seams – pin.

  2. Pin both sides leaving the tops open.

  3. Sew both seams

  4. Turn out the right way.

  5. Sew along the tops over the same seam as the binding. (I didn't do this and my bag sags)

  6. Fold the binding over and hand sew down, folding the ends in.

  7. Sew buttons onto the outside bottom and side and attach loops to the bottom and side of the flaps. I only had 8 buttons of the colour I wanted to use – I will be adding a few more on the side as when the bag slumps dog the loops come undone.

  8. To attach the EPP inside pocket – I lined it up on the inside pocket and blind hem stitched it down.

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A few improvements/changes that could be made:

  • Using velcro, poppers or the like instead of buttons and loops – I was using what I had.

  • Having 2 flaps on each side instead of 1 – especially if you want to use the base as an additional pocket – I designed it to hold large bags with fabric in so that wasn't really an issue.

  • Sewing down the middle on down the 2 middle seam on the EPP inside pocket – if the pocket is overloaded it sags.

  • My original design had loops to hold my ruler and pens/pencils and an extra small pocket – but I couldn't be bothered to add them – the rulers fit in the pocket with the graph paper and I have plans to make a pencil case/roll (no zip) in EPP.

Basically this pattern can be adapted to what you like – for example if you want a bag which will accommodate your cutting board make it big enough to do so.

If you make a bag let me know and I can start a Flickr group.

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