Saturday, 21 October 2017

go large!!

For this variation on the basic boxed bag (instructions here), I have made the bag much larger, quilted the fabric and added handles to be used as a knitting bag. To make it, I scaled up the pattern as follows:
  • the main body: 2x outer fabric, 2x batting & 2x lining measuring 12" x 24" with 3" square cutaways (for the boxed corners) 
  • handles:  2x outer fabric measuring 25" x 3 1/2" & batting measuring 24 1/2" x 1"
  • 18" zip

First, I roughly cut the outer fabric and batting to size, allowing extra for the quilting. I then quilted the outer fabric and batting using straight rows of stitching. Once quilted, I cut out the pattern pieces and began to assemble, treating the quilted pieces the same as I would usually treat outer fabric. For the handles, I cut an extra 2 lengths of batting and 2 strips of fabric to create quilted grab handles. If you prefer, you could use webbing or other construction methods to make the handles, (see more information here). Before the outer fabric and lining pieces were joined together, I machine stitched the handles in position on the outer fabric. This ensures the stitching isn't seen on the inside, keeping the finish as neat as possible. This style of bag, (simply enlarged with handles, but without quilting the fabric) would also work well for a swimming or gym bag, especially if you used a shower curtain or water resistant lining.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

attaching handles...

Following on from the making handles step by step tutorial, I wanted to show the different ways to attach handles. There are various methods to insert handles depending on the look you want and which works best for the project.

The handles can be sewn onto the outside of the bag/ project. The handles must be finished on ends, by tucking the raw edges inside the open end of the fabric and securing with a row of stitching. The strap can then be pinned into position and sewn to attach it to the project. The usual method for sewing to attach is to stitch a box with an X across the centre.
quilted handles stitched to the outside of a bag

The inserted handle shown below encloses the raw ends of the handle within the top seam between the outer fabric and lining. This creates a clean and simple look, but requires you to position and sew the handles during construction.
reinforced fabric handles inserted into top seam

You can also insert the handles in the base seam to create feature handles sitting up the outside of the bag. These can be topstitched  along the length to fully attach the handles to the side of the bag. Another option is to partially stitch up the length so the handles are attached top and bottom but leave loops in the middle for slipping objects in between, to carry a yoga matt on the outside of a gym bag for example.
webbing handles inserted into base seam

You can also use hardware to create more versatile handles, with adjustable length using D rings and sliders or detachable straps with snap hooks. There are lots of different types of hardware available, but most are joined to the project with a loop of fabric attached using one of the above joining methods.
adjustable reinforced handle with metal D ring and slider


Monday, 9 October 2017

Making handles...

For this step by step tutorial, I thought I would show you some of the methods you can use to make handles. Of course, the easiest option is to use webbing which can simply be cut to length and stitched into place. It comes in a range of widths and colours, making it a great option for beginners.

For fabric handles, there are lots of different options for how to make them, depending on what they will be used for. Here, I will show you three versions with step by step instructions to follow.

Version 1:
The folded handle uses only the fabric and is one of the simplest to make. It is perfect for lightweight use on bags. To make one, follow the instructions below:

Cut a length of fabric, this example is 4" wide.
Fold in half down the length, wrong sides together, leaving a 2" wide strip. Press along the fold.
Fold both of the raw edges in towards the centre fold, so your strip appears to be 1" wide. Ensure the raw edges are touching the centre fold inside and press.
Pin along the length and top stitch down both sides to hold it all in place.  

The reinforced tube uses a length of Petersham enclosed within a tube of fabric. This makes a stronger and stiffer handle, using less fabric than the above method:

Cut a length of fabric and a length of Petersham. The width of fabric should measure double the width of your Petersham + 3/4" for seams and room to ease the Petersham in.
Fold in half right sides together along the length of the fabric and pin the raw edges together.
Stitch down the edge using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Roll the tube of fabric so the seam is laid down the centre. Press the tube flat, with the raw edges pressed open.
Turn the fabric through, a bodkin is really helpful as this can be tricky. Thread the Petersham into the tube and ensure the seam is laying down the centre of one side.
photo showing front and back view
Topstitch down the entire length on both edges of the tube to hold the Petersham and fabric in place.
photo showing front and back view

The quilted handle provides an extra bit of padding and some structure by using wadding or batting within the fabric wrap:

Cut a length of fabric and a length of batting/wadding to suit your desired width. The example below uses a 3 1/2" width of fabric with a 1 1/8" width of wadding.
Place the wadding onto the wrong side of the fabric. Fold one edge over the top of the wadding, measuring around 1" so it almost covers the wadding. Pin along the length to hold this in place.
Fold the opposite edge over 1/2" and press. Now fold this over the edge of the wadding and press to create a neat fold for the outer edge of the handle.
Pin along the length, making sure the folded edge in the centre covers the raw edge, enclosing the wadding within the fabric.
Sew through all of the layers as close to the seam as possible. This should be roughly in the centre of the strap and catch all of the layers of fabric into the seam. Remember this is topstitching the fabric as well as holding all of the layers together so keep it straight and neat.
photo showing front and back view
Topstitch down both sides with equal spacing to hold the layers in place and create the quilting. With wider handles, you may wish to stitch additional rows.