Monday, 20 May 2013


Occasion: Filling up the first days of summer
Situation: Using left over materials to create a useful piece

Inspired by the current sporty trends seen around every corner, teasing us to join our perfect summer wardrobe, this 'made-by-me' bag is an easy by effective creation to satisfy those needs...Scroll through the instructions to see the final piece!

What will I need you ask?...
  • Left over materials [make sure they are big enough cuttings to your fulfill your bag size desire & that the materials are sturdy enough to be able to hold. I chose a corrugated plastic knit that hints at sporty through its opaque layering & a blush leather for details]
  • Scissors [good enough to cut through your chosen material. I opted for shears due to my leather detailing]
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Sewing thread [can match or contrast the colour. I chose a marl grey that complements both my materials, yet adds another aspect to my creation. Thicker overstitch thread would work well as a design feature, as the sewn lines would appear more visible. 

Begin by laying out your base fabric [that you are using for the face sides of your bag]. I used a A4 magazine to measure the size I wanted, to unsure it was a tote big enough to hold books etc]. Before I cut my real fabric I traced my measurements out onto a pattern, so I can always replicate the same bag shape again...

Some pieces are 'cut 2', so take note of the labeling. Each pattern piece can be altered to fit your needs, But ensure that the other pieces are altered to fit with it! For example, if you want a boxier bag, increase the width of the sides & therefore the width of the base to match.

Above: Ensuring that my pattern piece has left enough seam allowance around the A4 size to allow for sewing seams & for fitting magazines in with ease.

I have decided to give my bag sides & therefore a base to make it more 3D & able to hold more objects. I am playing on this feature by using the hard-wearing leather on the base of my bag, adding a contrasting colour & re-enforcing its sturdiness. I have also reflected this in my bag's straps.

Once I have cut out my pattern pieces from my final material [use pins to secure the paper pattern down & cut around] I lay them out to plan my construction process. 

I turn the pieces right side down as I will be sewing it that way, ensuring that the seams are on the inside.

I sew the base first, attaching all linking edges. I am using a basic domestic machine, but have replaced the needle with a thicker one, just to ensure it can handle the heaviness of the leather. You can see the 3D construction beginning to take shape. However I realize that the seam is open and would wear away through inside use of the bag, despite it not looking appealing to the eye! So a binding job it is...

I choose a waterproof dark grey material to cover the seams with. It will reinforce the strength and will complement my coloured thread. I cut four strips [for each inside corner] about a rulers width [1 inch roughly, but it will depend on your seam allowance] and sew them folded around the long seams on each corner...

The bag is still inside-out at this stage, so I can ensure the sewing is up to scratch & that the bag will therefore be strong enough to hold. I also want it to look as smooth on the inside as it will on the out! Notice now much neater the binding on the top seams above makes them look than the lower ones!

After hemming the top edge opening, I turn my bag the right side out to attach my straps. I decide to make them a design feature by securing them on the outside face on the bag, with cross-over contrast stitching.

And tah-da! My sporty tote bag is ready for action!

The 3D sides I have given my bag give it a more rounded shape, appearing like a bucket bag, but that will square out over time through use. I am going to style my new accessory with crisp whites and clean shapes. Look out for it in my up-and-coming looks!

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