Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Big Sister Bag Tutorial

Start to finish, this purse took me a total of three naptimes (approx. 6 hours) to complete. Made for my big sister's birthday and named in her honor, this bag was entirely self-designed, planned, photographed, and created.

And here's how to make your own. (I sorta feel like a magician who's revealing his slight of hand...)

What You Need
1/2 yd. fabric (60 in. bolt) of outer fabric
1/2 yd. complimentary lining fabric
matching thread
medium weight interfacing
magnetic closure

Step 1
Beginning with your outer fabric, measure and cut the trapezoid (top length 10 1/4 ", sides 4", bottom 14 in.). In the above photo, you can see that the top corner is only 1.5" in from the bottom.
For the taper inward to the narrower side, I cut 60 degree angle (the clear ruler was key with that).
Also, the hand-drawn plan photo (at Step 3 below) might be helpful if you're still having trouble visualizing this.

Step 2
Fold, pin, and cut two at the same time.
Cutting the two pieces apart at the fold:

Outer fabric now looks like this:

Step 3
Turn your fabric sideways to draw the body of the purse. See photo for dimensions of the footed bowl shape.

(21.5 " across the top-- plenty of room for those fab. pleats!, 12" from top to bottom, the last 2" of which is the "foot" which later becomes the flat bottom and gives the bag a great shape, 18" across the bottom. Photo also shows where I began my curve-- about an inch and a half up from the foot section, the picture says 45 degrees, but obviously it's not a straight angle-- I freehand curved it there)By the way, that white square is tailor's chalk... super handy stuff (also comes in blue for light fabrics).

Step 4
Fold fabric, pin, and cut two at the same time.

Cut apart the two halves at the fold (again).

Step 5 (optional)
Depending on your fabric choice, you may want to add a medium weight fusible interfacing to your outer fabric at this stage. My tweedy stuff was a little too slouchy, so I added some to give it more heft.
Just trim off the excess to fit your pieces.

Step 6
Pin pleats so that the top of your body piece (21" wide) is now only 14 " wide (the length of the bottom of the trapezoid).

Step 7
Sew and attach the trapezoid piece to the body piece, right sides together. Pull pins out as you go.
You now have what looks sorta like half the bag... exciting, huh?

Step 8
Lay out your lining fabric (folded in half) and set your outer fabric on top to use as a guide. Pin outer fabric (the"bag half") down, and cut around it-- again, two pieces cut at the same time.

Step 9
Grab the remainder of your outer fabric to make a pocket for the bag. This will end up in the interior, and make a nice spot for a cell phone and car keys. The remaining piece of the 1/2 yd. was the perfect size.
a) First, I just trimmed off the odd shape to make an even rectangle.b) Fold in half, so it looks more square. (Right sides together again. In the picture below, you can see the dull/wrong side up, the nicer side in.)

c) Pin in place with right sides together, and sew around three sides(up, over, down), leaving the bottom end open (selvedge in this case). d) Turn right side out and iron the seams so they'll lie more flat.
e) Decide on placement. Lay it on the lining fabric, and mark where you'd like the bottom of the pocket to end up. (Look closely to see my little white line floating in the brown, to the bottom right of the square.)
f) Turn pocket upside down, and line up where you'll sew your seam with the mark you made for where you want the pocket to end. Pin down and sew across.

g)Fold up and pin down again. Decide where (if) you want your pocket divided. I sewed a seam about 1/3 of the way over on the right for a cell phone, leaving a larger pocket for keys, lip balm, etc.

Step 10
Add the magnetic closure. Here's what they look like. I ordered mine online, but I know places like Jo-Ann carries them. Everything you need:

a) First, fuse some interfacing to the wrong side of the lining fabric where you expect the closure to go (remember to allow a little seam allowance at the top of the trapezoidal part, so down just a bit).
b)Mark the two pieces so that the two halves of the closure will line up and close nicely later. I did it by sticking a pin through them.

See, if they end up here, they'll meet perfectly.

c) Set the circular backing piece so the center hole lines up with your pinhole. With an ink pen, trace the two lines on either side.

d) Fold those little lines in half and clip them delicately with scissors.
e) Push female or male through the holes and through the circular backing piece, then press sides over to complete assembly.

Watch them kiss!

Step 11
To begin attaching the outer and lining fabrics, lie a lining piece up with an outer piece, being careful to put right sides together. Pin in place, and plan a turning gap so that when you've sewn this, you can turn it right side out and your seam will be hidden.

Here's mine sewn together, the pen is there to point out where I left my turning gap.
Step 12
Turn right side out and iron seams so they'll lie nicely.

Repeat Steps 11 and 12 for the other half of the bag.

Step 13
Next, line up the two halves with outer fabric together, lining fabric out. Pin in place, then sew them together.
Be careful NOT to sew the top together (this should remain open), and also be careful to tuck in and sew over the previously open turning gaps so that they'll now be finished.
Step 14
Before you turn it right side out, make the great corners that give this bag the great shape.

Okay, the pin is pointing out the foot.

Now fold up the foot so that it touches the curve and makes a point.

Pin in place. Use a measuring tape to be sure your seams are even-- don't want this to look lopsided. (I made each fold 3" long.)

Sew up the angled sides. When you turn it right side up, admire your work.... how nice, eh?

See how that bag has shape now, and wants to sit there looking cute?

Step 15
Add your handles. You can make your own out of the leftover fabric, but I chose to get these wooden ones at the store. I lucked out and the rose tone of the wood echoed the coral fabric.
I simply used some of the lining fabric to fold rectangles (4.5" by 3") to add the handles to the purse. Fold in all raw edges, iron, and sew them together (decorative stitch, since it shows), then feed them through the handles. To attach them to the bag, the lining fabric rectangles must be handsewn in. The only note of caution is you've gotta be careful to only attach it to the lining fabric ONLY so that your stitches can't be seen from the outside. Also, be careful when you attach that you do each at the same length (decide how much fabric you want showing above the top of the purse, keep it the same for each one) so that the handles are even when held together.

Et voila! It's done!
Whew! Making a tutorial is almost as laborious as the bag itself!