I so enjoyed the sew-a-row challenge last year (Fire & Ice) that I signed up again when the word was out that there was going to be another one. I am one of those people who think things are ‘a good idea at the time‘ so, as usual, I got very excited and then panic set in when I realised what was involved.
None of us knew that it was going to be a bag feature when we signed up, and it took a bit of work to find out what we were happy to do so that we got a good range of bag types. My first one is a quilting bag – a useful bag for those of you who go on retreats, to classes or workshops or want to take projects away with you on holiday.
In looking at a bag design I set down some design points that I thought were important. These included:
- Large enough for a good sized cutting mat and ruler – ideally an 18″ x 12″ mat and 18″ ruler and a 12.5″ square ruler. This gave me a good size to work with. I didn’t want it too big otherwise I would have trouble carrying it any distance if there was too much in to weigh it down.
- Sturdy handles that spread the load. I didn’t really want shoulder straps on a bigger bag.
- Something to help close the bag, but this needed to be expandable to accommodate a full or half-full bag.
- A sturdy design and not too floppy – a bag that would stand up on its own and support rulers etc. inside it.
- Outside front pockets for notes etc. and inside pockets to hold rulers etc.
A plan on a scrap of paper – I did tidy it up before cutting anything out!
I mapped out a design on a scrap of paper and then drew it out as a paper pattern. Wow was I shocked when I saw how big the dimensions were in practice! I sat for a while wondering if I had finally lost my marbles and whether this would work or not and then logic took over and I continued with the plan.
I purchased 1.5 meters of cotton fabric for the outer and another 1.5 meters for the lining. I could have made it with less by patchworking scraps together and / or making pockets out of coordinating fabrics, but I chose to make it out of one fabric inside and one out. At a fabric sale in January I came across some wadding that was sturdy but flexible. This was called Matilda’s Bag Wadding and it is soft to the touch, can be squashed up but will bounce back, not too heavy and definitely nice to sew. I purchased a meter of this and did have to make joins on the handle sections using a machine zigzag stitch which held well. If I had been in possession of fusible strips to join the wadding together I would have used this instead as the joins did show when the piece was bent; they creased instead of curved. However, this isn’t obvious because of the position of the join (on the handle section).
Each outer piece was quilted to the wadding and I chose to stitch vertical lines about a centimeter apart. This gave a lovely look and feel even though my lines were wonky in parts; almost like it had been fused together. Using this wadding, or anything similar, you definitely need a walking foot for the quilting, seams and to create the sleeves for the doweling handles to slip into etc.
The assembly was easy and you can find all the information in the free download (link at the bottom of the page). The pattern can be adapted to meet your personal needs. I did originally put one big pocket inside to hold the 12.5″ ruler but this just gaped. These pockets need to be smaller so that they comfortably hold pieces of equipment such as rotary cutter, pencils, small rulers etc. Internal pockets can be added to both sides but I only added to one side. If you wanted to add shoulder straps then these would need to be attached before the bag was assembled.
The only other feature I added was a base for the bag as I felt that a firmer base would prevent sagging. For this I used Plastic Canvas Sheeting but regret it as I don’t like buying plastic for Eco reasons. In hind site a sturdy cardboard piece would have worked just as well and would have been free.
I enjoyed working on this project and I am happy with the amount of equipment, fabrics and/or projects I can fit in and comfortably carry.
Please let me know how you get on.