I’m very happy to be sharing my first post with you on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network!

I love to sew and I especially enjoy the process of designing a project, making it up, tweaking it as I go, then writing it up as a tutorial. I don’t often use a pattern, I like to make it up myself. I also like to encourage people to have a go themselves, so for this reason most of the posts on my blog Tea and a Sewing Machine are sewing tutorials and this post is no exception!

I wanted to make a pretty bag and I wanted to use burlap. There’s something very charming about its rusticness. Burlap is often a bit thick though, so this scrim fabric was ideal as it is lighter. I like a bag with a pretty lining, so I chose this fabric from the Gutermann Ring a Roses collection. When the stuff arrived, the Gutermann fabric was so pretty there was no way I could just use it for the lining! So I changed the design of the bag a bit so that the Gutermann fabric was on the outside too. The bag also uses these plastic handles.

Cutting Out the Bag Outer

From the scrim fabric, cut 4 rectangles 6 cm x 23 cm and 2 rectangles 10 cm x 23 cm. These will be for the main part of the bag. Next cut 4 rectangles 6 cm x 25 cm. These will be for the top part of the bag. For the pieces that will join the handles, draw a rectangle 15 cm x 7 cm, then using one of the handles as a guide, redraw one of the longer edges so that it follows the curve of the handle.

From the cotton fabric, cut 4 rectangles 9 cm x 23 cm.

The bag lining and gusset will need to be cut out once you have completed most of the outer.

Making Up the Bag Outer

1. Take one of the larger scrim rectangles and 2 of the cotton rectangles. Sew the cotton rectangles to either side of the scrim rectangle. 

Then take 2 of the smaller rectangles and sew those to the other side of the cotton rectangles. Press the seams towards the cotton rectangles. 

Repeat for the other rectangles so that you have 2 pieces the same.

2. Bring the inner corners of the outer and central scrim sections into the middle of the top of the cotton rectangle to form a pleat. They will need to be an angle so that the bottom of the pleat is open. Pin to hold it, then do the same with the other sections. Sew across the top within the seam allowance to hold it.

3. Trace round the shape of the bag. Round off the corners and cut out. To get it even, fold it in half while you cut it.

4. Using this as a guide, cut the corners off the bag outer pieces to make them round.

5. To make the gusset, measure from the centre of the bottom to the middle of the corner. This will be the first section. Then measure from the middle of the corner to the top. This will be the second section. The first section will need to be 7 cm wide. The 2nd section will need to be 7 cm wide where it joins onto the 1st section and taper to 4 cm at the top. Cut it out as one piece. Then cut from scrim on the fold.

6. Pin the gusset to one side of the bag, then sew. 

Pin it to the other side, then sew that too. Trim the seams, but not too much as the scrim will fray! Clip the curves.

Cutting Out the Lining

From the lining fabric, cut 2 bag shaped pieces and 1 gusset, cut on the fold.

For the pocket, using the bag pattern piece as a guide, cut 2 pieces 17 cm high.

Making Up the Lining and the Pocket

1. Take the 2 pocket pieces and, with the wrong sides together, sew along the top edge. Trim the seam and clip where it curves. Turn the right way out and press.

2. Take one of the lining pieces and put the pocket section on top of it, ensuring that the sides and bottom of the pocket are lined up with the lining. 

Pin the gusset and sew.

3. Take the other lining piece and pin it to the other side of the gusset. Sew. Trim the seams and clip the curves.

You might like to use some sew in interfacing at this stage to make it more bag like. Just cut 2 more bag shaped pieces and a gusset piece and sew them together in the same way. Trim the seams closely.

Putting the Bag Together

1. If you are using sew in interfacing, pop it inside the outer with the seams facing inwards. Push it right down into the corners. Then put the lining in with the right side inwards. Pin it in place, then sew around the top within the seam allowance. Trim if needed.

2. Take the scrim pieces for the top of the bag. You might like to use some fusible interfacing here to make it a bit stronger. Sew 2 of the pieces together along the short edges, then sew the other 2 pieces together in the same way. Press the seams open (Using a finger will do!).

3. Pin the top bits to the top of the bag. One will need to go on the outside, with the seams facing outwards. The other needs to go on the inside, with the seams visible. 

Sew around the top of the bag. Pull the top bits upwards.

4. Sew 2 of the handle pieces together along the top edge. Clip the curves and press it the right way out. 

Hem the side edges. 

Pop it through the handle. 

Repeat for the other 2 handle pieces.

5. Fold the top edges of the top of the bag inwards. Take one of the handles and slip it between the top pieces so that it is in the centre. Pin in place. 

Repeat for the other handle. Top stitch around the top of the bag. I used a zip foot here so that I could get closer to the handles. It was still a little bit fiddly! I found it easiest to have the bottom handle on the left. If you find it too tricky, you could hand sew the handles into the top of the bag instead.

I’m very happy with how the bag turned out. The scrim did fray a bit, as was to be expected, but it was fine to work with and kept its shape better than I had anticipated (and if it hadn’t, a little bit of fusible interfacing would have solved that!). The Gutermann fabrics were beautiful and I have plans to make more stuff with those! I’ve not used plastic handles before and although it was a bit fiddly getting them in, I would use them again as they look nice :).