Fat Quarter Bag Tutorial

Originally posted here at Make and Takes.


This project is a really quick and easy one creating the perfect little girl-bag. (Or maybe even a grown-up girl bag.) The possibilities are endless.  I’ll demo the basic assembly technique and then a couple of embellishing options and you can let your creativity go from there!

To start all you’ll need is a Fat Quarter.  If you want your bag to have a contrasting lining, get a second fat quarter and you’ll have enough for two cute bags!

First of all, what is a Fat Quarter? Craft stores and fabric stores often carry pre-cut pieces of yardage called Fat Quarters.  They are pieces of fabric measuring 18” x 22”. I chose to use two different FQ’s and make two bags.

Begin by cutting your FQ’s in half creating 2 pieces 11” x 18”.  Cut 2 16” pieces of ribbon for the handles. (I used  1 ½” wide grosgrain.)

Match-up your outer fabric and your lining fabric right sides together and pin at the two 11”ends.

 Pin the ribbon for the handles between the two pieces of fabric, 2” from the outside edges.   Sew ¼” seam.

Now take it to your ironing board. Bring the two seams to the center and match them up. Press seams open. You will now have your lining-piece folded in half on one side of the seam and your outside piece folded in half on the other.

Match up the two seams and pin in place. Pin open sides together, leaving a 3″ opening on one side of the lining fabric for turning right side out. Sew ¼” seams on both sides. Turn bag right-side out and top-stitch opening closed. It will look like a flat, empty pillow.

Tuck lining fabric inside the outside bag fabric. Now it’s starting to look like an actual bag!

Press the top edge of the bag and top stitch around the edge of the bag.  I also topstitch again 1/4” from the top. (This will help secure the handles a little as well.) This is easy, and it will give the bag a nice, finished edge.

For a decorative ribbon trim, cut the ribbon length you need (about 23”). Pin the ribbon in place, folding the end of the ribbon underneath itself.  Topstitch ribbon edges to the bag.

To make the bag have a squared-off bottom edge -or gusset – turn the bag inside out, tucking the bottom corners inside each other. Flatten the side seam lined up parallel with the bottom crease, creating a pointed/triangle.

Measure 1” down from the top of the point/triangle and make a mark.  Then draw a line at that point, perpendicular to the seam.  Sew a straight line right on top of the line that you marked, backstitching at the beginning and end. Clip threads. Repeat with other bottom corner.  This will give you two little, flappy triangles in each corner.

Pull the bag right-sides out and you have a nice little boxed bottom.  You can tack-down the little triangles inside if you want. (Depends who I’m giving the bag to – if it’s a 5-year-old, I won’t take the time to tailor the inside of the bag!)

Voila. A finished bag!

To make the second bag, I sewed the 11” edges right sides together without putting the ribbon handles in.

Repeat bag process. (Bring seams to the center, press, seams open, sew open ends, leaving 3” opening for turning bag right side out, sew ¼” seams, pull right-side out, topstitch opening, tuck lining inside, press top of bag.) To make a band of trim around the top of the bag, roll the lining fabric above the bag about 1/4″. Pin to hold fabrics in place and press.

Top stitch around the edge of the bag at the top of the outer fabric AND at the top of the lining fabric. This is easy, and gives the bag a nice, decorative edge.

This time, sew the ribbon handles to the top of the bag itself using two 15” pieces of ribbon.

Once again, you could leave the bag as it is now or add the tucks at the bottom.  (It’s slightly trickier to put in a gusset at the bottom edge of the bag since the lining is shorter because you’ve used it as a decorative edge, but the process still works.)

The possibilities for embellishing the bag are endless: Trims, button closures, fabric handles instead of ribbon . . . Use your creativity.

And there you go – two really easy little bags – for the price of 2 Fat Quarters (about $2.50 each) and about 2 ½” yards of grosgrain ribbon.

Field Trip Friday: New York City Fabric Distric

Continuing our Fabric theme from yesterday: 
A quick little post about New York’s Fabric District (or Fashion/Garment District.)
This area of Manhattan is found on 37th-40th Streets between 7th and 8th Ave.  Most of the stores on these streets look like this. (Very different that Purl Soho!) Knowing that most of the fabric in these stores is for apparel, I knew I probably wouldn’t buy much, but I still wanted to check out the area.  I did see a few bolts of Alexander Henry quilting cottons, but they were priced the same as most independent quilt shops. And no, I didn’t go to Mood. (Should have.)
Since coming home, I found this blog, Lindsey T Sews about visiting New York’s fashion district. Great resource! I wish I’d seen it before I went there.
Some more things that caught my eye in the Fabric District: Spandex World!
Who knew??
Everything you need to create your own Vegas Show Girl outfit!
Traveling Juki sewing machines!
Walls of Ric Rac! Behold the myriad of color and size options.
These trims were in the same store as the ric rac. (Like an idiot, I didn’t keep track of the store name or address but I think it’s on the north side of 39th, half way down between 7th and 8th Ave.  If I find my receipt, I’ll add the info.)  There were lots of similar trim stores in the area. Not nearly as well-lit or aesthetically inspiring as M & J Trimming, but prices were cheaper.  M & J was also more convenient and organized: you were able to put the individual bolts of trim into your basket and carry them to the counter to have them cut and measured.  Much easier to browse.  This place I had to find someone with a pair of scissors and point to what I wanted and they would cut it for me.  I felt a little more pressure about hurrying and might have bought more but I didn’t like having someone hover next to me while I was trying to decide. 
And there were two cats living in this store.
This is my haul from this place.  Isn’t that turquoise ric-rac awesome? No, I don’t know what I’m going to do with the European trims yet. But now I have them when inspiration strikes.  All this was around $8.  My much smaller haul from M & J Trimming was around $6.  
So, depending on your preference, you can trade convenience and aesthetic display for cheaper prices and cats. New York has it all.

Field Trip Friday: M & J Trimming, Manhattan

I was so grateful for the list of great suggestions of things to do in New York when I announced that I was going to there about a month ago.  One of the suggestions that came up a few times was M & J Trimming.  Little did I know that this is somewhat of a NY icon.  It’s located on 6th Avenue between 37th and 38th, just up the street from Macy’s Department Store.
If you need it, this place has got it! Holy smokes. That wall is just ribbon.
And here is the wall of Crystals.
Buttons anyone? And this was only a fraction of the button collection.
My pictures just don’t do this place justice. Pretty much everything you need for weddings, crafting, making clothes, studs for your inner-motorcyle-babe wear, Renaissance Festival gown, you name it. You know that if this is where Martha Stewart comes to get her crafting supplies, it’s got to be fabulous. 
You can order from their huge selection online at mjtrim.com
They also have a great blog at blog.mjtrim.com

Once again (as with Purl Soho) expect to pay New York City scale prices. (And why not? After all, they do cater to the likes of Martha.)  Coming from Utah, Land of Abundant (and often Cheap) Craft Supplies, I didn’t buy much. But I couldn’t walk away totally empty-handed and found these cute little trims.  Love those dapper little Scottie Dogs.

If you’re going to the Fabric District in NY, M & J Trimming is totally worth the stop!  Next field trip: The Fabric District.