Easy Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial

Today I am going to share a tutorial for a couple of versions of a quick and easy bag made from Fat Quarters as part of Elizabeth’s Christmas in July series – to help all of us get started on those handmade gifts early so we’re not sewing zombies on December 24th.
This tutorial is inspired by some purses I made for my daughter’s friends for Christmas a couple of years ago.  They were so quick and so cute and I’ve been meaning to write a tutorial for them ever since. I’m grateful to Elizabeth for this opportunity to finally get my rear in gear and share how I did it.  They were inspired during a Christmas when funds were a little tight and I needed to use resources already on hand (i.e. a giant fabric stash) to create Christmas gifts.  
Each bag uses the equivalent of one Fat Quarter + 1/8th of a yard (or scraps) for the handle. (You could also use sturdy ribbon as handles.)  
Step 1: Cut your Fat Quarter (hereafter FQ) in half to create two 11″ (roughly-might be slightly narrower depending on the width of the FQ) x 18″ pieces. You can use the second piece as the lining of your bag or cut a coordinating piece the same size for a contrasting lining and save the second piece for a second bag.
For this bag we are going to make two short handles.  Cut two 4″ x 18″ pieces of fabric. These can come from a 1/8th yard piece of fabric, you could cut them from one of your FQ’s or you could find them in your scrap bin like I did.

Step 2 – Create the handles. Fold both handles in half lengthwise and press. Open up the handle and press both sides in, meeting at the half-way crease.  Press and fold in half. You should have a handle, 4-fabrics-thick about 1″ wide. Top stitch down both sides of the handle piece right at the edge to make it sturdy and to give it a nice finished edge.

Step 3- Pin both handles to the short sides of the lining piece of fabric. Measure in about 2.5″ from each corner and pin the handles to the the fabric.

Step 4- Place the outside fabric right sides together on top of the lining piece and handles. Pin short sides and sew 1/4″ seam allowance down both sides, over the edges of the handle straps, careful not to catch any other part of the handles in your seams.

 Step 5- Press seams open and bring seams together, matching them up at the center. The bag’s outside fabric and lining fabric should be folded on top of itself, right sides together. Now pin the long, open sides together.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along both sides, leaving a 3″ opening in the lining to turn the bag right-sides out.

 Step 6 – Pull the bag right sides out through the 3″ opening and top-stitch the opening closed. (This doesn’t have to look pretty because it will be inside the bag.)

Step 7- Tuck the lining inside the bag and press the bag carefully, paying extra attention to the seam around the top of the bag. Make it look nice and crisp. 
Step 8- Top-stitch around the top edge of the bag.  This will help secure the handles’ attachment and give the bag a finished look.  I did it twice. 

Step 9- Now to give the bag a nice boxy bottom, we are going to add something called a gusset.  Don’t stress, it’s much easier than it looks. Turn the bag inside-out and line up the side seams perpendicular to the bottom edge, creating two triangles at either end of the bag.

 Step 10- Measure down 1″ from the point and draw a line perpendicular to the side seam.

Step 11- Sew directly on the line, back stitching at both ends.  Repeat the same process with the bottom corner on the other side of the bag.  You could hand-tack down the gusset flaps if you’re picky, but don’t have to worry if you’re not as they will be hidden in the bag.

And there you have a quick finished bag!  Once you have made one, it’s very quick and easy to mass-produce a lot of them.

 Now here is a slight variation to create a bag with a longer strap and a little more of a ‘purse’ shape.

Repeat Steps 4-8 above to create the body of the bag, leaving out the handles.

To add a decorative ribbon or trim I measured down 2.5″ from the top and drew a line with an erasable fabric pen.

Line up the trim along the drawn line and pin in place.
Topstitch trim to the bag.
Repeat Steps 9-11 to add the gussets to the bottom of the of the bag.
For the handle of this purse, use a 4″ x 42″ piece of fabric.  Use the same method as above to create one long purse strap. (Fold in half and press, open up and fold edges toward center, press, fold in half again and topstitch both sides.)
Trim the strap to the desired finished length. I think I trimmed mine down to 38″ for a tween-y girls purse. Tuck bottom raw edges inside the purse strap. 

Pin the end of the strap about an inch down and directly next to one of the side seams on the outside of the bag.

Fold the side of the bag on the opposite side of the seam on top of the purse strap.  Seam should be on the inside edge of the strap with equal parts of the bag holding the strap end in place. 
Sew a square holding two sides of the bag with strap end in between in place. Repeat the same steps on the other side of the bag, with the other end of the strap.

When the bag is done, you can always add a cute embellishment of some kind to ‘bling-it-up’ if you want.

And that’s it!  Again, once you’ve made one, you can whip out a bunch more in no time.  They’re great gifts to have on hand for all those little-girl Christmas or birthday gifts. (Or you could make a ‘satchel‘ version for boys too!)

Be sure to visit the other guest-bloggers for Christmas in July to see the awesome ideas and tutorials they have for you!
Monday 7/16 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tuesday 7/17 – Sew Crafty Jess
Wednesday 7/18 – Pink Penguin
Thursday 7/19 – Freshly Pieced
Friday 7/20 – Sew Sweetness
Monday 7/23 – Happy Quilting
Tuesday 7/24 – Comfort Stitching
Wednesday 7/25 – Diary of a Quilter (here!)
Thursday 7/26 – Felicity Quilts

And finally, as part of this series, Elizabeth has arranged a fabulous giveaway for you of a $20 Gift Certificate from the online fabric retailer, Pink Chalk Studio! Lucky you! Pink Chalk has so many pretty choices.

To enter, leave a comment on this post. One entry per person.  If you want to, tell me something handmade you’d like to make this Christmas, but it’s not required.  Giveaway open until Saturday, July 28 at midnight MST.  Please be sure that I have a way to contact you if you win!


WINNER: Heidi StaplesJuly 25, 2012 11:54 AM

I’ve got a lot of things in mind to make for Christmas, but nothing definite yet. Darling tutorial! Thanks for the giveaway!

A whole lot of stuff going on.

It’s been a somewhat crazy week. I’m doing a bunch of sewing for Market at the moment, which means I can’t show much (yet) – other than a pile of scraps – because the new-ness is not mine to share. But I did get to play with some of this already with more fun in the works.

And this just arrived in my mailbox today, so more sewing ahead!
My husband was out of town for most of the last two weeks of April, so I brought my sewing machine and set up my mess at the kitchen table and fed the kids things like german pancakes and cold cereal for dinner. 

While trying to stay engaged with the kids during the massive sewing binge going on, I’ve also been letting the kids exercise their own creativity.  I received a copy of Marie Lebaron’s Make and Takes for Kids book at the SNAP conference a couple of weeks ago and my kids have LOVED it.  Highly recommend if you’ve got young kids.

In the process, we have created a great many messes. And all of that needed to be cleaned up today because we had a big extended family celebration. This guy turned 8 last week and today he was baptized by his dad.  Happy times! I wish I could freeze him right now – I love those freckles and that jack-o-lantern smile.  It was so nice to have a happy family day. Back to the mess on Monday.

Another new project: Sarah Jane Family Tree

Well, I’ve done it again. Started another new project.  It seemed in December and January I did a really good job of finishing projects.  Hence a lot of posts with finished quilts, etc.  Lately it’s all been about starting something new. Sorry for so many posts of random piles of fabric or blocks.  Hopefully the pretty colors and fabric will distract you.

We’re going to have some good car time this weekend – which is also some of my favorite time to just sit and sew, guilt free.  So I needed to come up with a project to work on.  As I’ve been sorting and cleaning out my sewing stuff, I found this Sarah Jane Family Tree panel and decided this was it.  I fell in love with the panel again as I realized the children in the panel so perfectly represent my own kiddos. I’ve got an oldest brunette daughter, next a fair-haired sister, then two boys – one dark and the youngest a blondie. Seems this drawing was made just for us.

I put together one for Sarah Jane’s booth at Market last spring and she kindly gave me one to make for myself and it just got added to the never-ending ‘someday list’.  Well today is that day. I’m going to work on stitching the names while we drive.  I’m planning to make more of a pieced border for mine. So I went through my fabrics and picked out prints and colors that reminded me of my kids. Including some scraps and pieces of novelty prints that I’ve been hoarding saving for just the right project. Well, this is it. I’m excited to see it come together.

In my snatches of spare time I’ve been cutting 2 1/2″ squares to make a pieced border for the panel. While I was at it I just kept cutting more so I can use them for granny squares or for mini hexagons.  One can never be over-prepared when it comes to 2 1/2″ squares, it seems.

Tutorial: How to make children’s clothes out of take-out bags

Another Tutorial this week and today we have a special Guest Blogger. Thanks to the response from my Father’s Day post we have an official tutorial for making upcycled children’s clothing from plastic take-out bags. Think of the myriad of possibilities when this look would come in handy. This is my husband’s first opportunity to share his own creativity on this blog.  Perhaps this tutorial will be useful enough to hit the big time.  We await a call from Martha any day now. Let’s give him a warm welcome:

Hi Amy’s blog friends. I’m flattered and grateful for all your positive comments about my solution for our boy’s accident at lunch one day. I was surprised by Amy and many of you writing that you wouldn’t have thought of it. So I will take Amy up on her invitation to write a tutorial how to do so. And thanks so much for all the nice comments and validations you give Amy!
1.       Get little boy into bathroom and clean him up while keeping 1-year-old from touching the urinal. After failing at the second part, wash his hands really good and never tell his mom that happened (until writing blog tutorial years later).

2.       Contemplate putting 3-yr-old’s wet pants back on, but decline because that would be uncomfortable for him. Contemplate letting him go pants-free, but decline because of what his mom will say.

3.       Never consider for one second what the other moms in the fast-food place might be thinking about your parenting abilities.

4.       Look around bathroom for anything that could help. Attempt weaving a paper-towel lava lava or kilt. Fail.

5.       Poke head out of bathroom and look around for other materials. Tell 3-yr-old to stay put while you carry 1-yr-old and grab take-out bag.

6.       When 3-yr-old refuses to let you tie bag around his waist, poke holes in the bottom and rebrand it as cool “overalls” like workmen wear. Breathe sigh of relief when he accepts the idea.

7.        Let boys continue to run around circular booth in fast-food joint until mom’s event ends.

8.       Embrace any perceived judgment or derision from any of the other moms there. Tell yourself they are just wishing their husbands would spend more quality time with their sons.

9.       Eagerly anticipate emailing your guy friends the photo of your son wearing a plastic bag as overalls.

10.   When 3-yr-old demands to go visit your office, decline because the bag is a little bit see-through and his mom would be mortified.

11.   Hold firm when he throws a tantrum and insists, “Put some black tape over my private part like on America’s Funniest Home Videos!”, even though that it is an impressive argument.

12.   Present him with pride when his mom arrives to pick him up.

A shout out to Dads

My and my Dad circa 1979. Love the hair and those plaid pants.
I realize it’s totally late in the day for this but I want to give a quick shout out to Dads since today was Father’s Day in the States. 
I’ve learned that it’s a great thing that men and women don’t always think alike.  A few years ago I had an event I really wanted to attend and luckily for me it was right by my husband’s office so he offered to take our little boys during his lunch break so I could go. When I returned to the car afterwards, I found my almost-4-yr-old wearing a new outfit: 

Turns out he got so excited about having lunch with Dad he didn’t want to tell him when he needed to get to the bathroom and had a little overflow issue. At first my husband wasn’t sure what to do because I had neglected to bring along any back-up pants.

So he came up with this wardrobe option to get them through the rest of lunch, give me time to finish my thing , and get us back home again. I don’t think I would have come-up with it in a thousand years. But it totally worked. Good job, Dad. I’m so glad you’re my partner in this crazy adventure called parenthood.

Maybe I can get him to do a guest post tutorial on how to make children’s clothes out of take-out bags. Might be a popular one.

A handy quilting tip

(This probably isn’t going to be an Oprah-worthy ‘Ah-ha’ moment, and some of you are going to feel totally unimpressed, but for the simple-minded folks out there like me, here is a little tip that has simplified my quilting process recently.)  
You know when you lay out your quilt blocks, then stack them by rows so that you can take them to your machine to start sewing? After carefully placing all those blocks, you definitely want to keep those blocks and rows in the right order. Previously I’ve marked my rows with pins or stick on labels. Sometimes chalk pencil, but that always seems to fade.  Well, I just stared using my water-eraseable marker and it works like a charm.  Easy to read, no falling-off labels, etc. and it comes off easily when my top is pieced. Thanks to Mary for the reminder not to iron over it. And I would suggest removing it as soon as you’re done piecing those rows. So there you go.
Here’s another little stack I’m hoping to sew together today.
Also working on those i-spy kits.

Here is what should be doing, but keep putting off: school play costumes. This one is for a wizard hat (cone shaped) that we need to embellish first. I don’t have much silver lame in my fabric stash, so I’m going to have to procure some.  We’re also responsible for a renaissance princess costume, but finally caved and bought one online.  (It’s purple and my daughter is thrilled.) I figured by the time I tallied the pattern and fabric costs + time it would just be cheaper to by one. (I feel so lazy.)  For as much as I love to sew, I just do not love using synthetic fabrics to make costumes. I sound like such a snob. lol.

Finally the winner has been announced for the Modern Basics book. Thanks so much to all who entered.  Amy is sharing a little more about her quilts today.  If you want one Amy still has some available signed copies in her Shop. It’s also available at Amazon.