all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

Bags of bags

It’s lockdown time, and I guess that many of us are working our way through whatever fabric we have in our houses. I don’t have much of a stash of new fabric. Normally I buy for a specific project, which I make up shortly after buying the fabric. But I do have a lot of bits; most are left over from making the specific projects, but more recently, and slightly sadly, I have acquired fabric from various sources of late parents’ generations.

It is mainly to one such source of soft furnishing off cuts that I have turned in recent weeks. To be quite honest, I am not sure what I am going to do with some of these bags, but I have made quite a few….

I am sharing 4 examples below. Two are from free patterns, recently released as lockdown ‘specials’, and the other two are from purchased sources. Let me start with the most complex first.

This is B6121, branded See and Sew,  bought from SewDirect probably about 8 years ago. After a bit of hunting, i cannot find the pattern on the site, nor anything that is quite the same. I cut out the backpack pieces a long time ago, but never used them. Two of the soft furnishing off cuts were the same design, but different colours. Luckily, i had a zip of just the right length and colour in my small collection of zips. This was obviously ‘meant to be’. Between the two off cuts, including some careful pattern matching, I was able to cut a rucksack. There are lots of pieces. Of the ten pieces, most require two of fabric. Six or seven (x2) of them require interfacing, and four pieces (x 2) make up the lining. And then there is lots of marking to do. When I am sewing I seem to either completely ignore the pattern instructions, or follow them to the letter. This needed to be followed to the letter.

Most of the sewing is relatively straightforward, but with a few provisos. Obviously one should try to match up all of the dots. I needed a bit of jiggling at each of the bottom corners, but having marked each new pivot point, it actually came together quite well. I would say that the hardest part is getting clean pivot points at the bottom corners, especially at the front, over the pocket. The seam allowance states 1.5 cm, but actually only one seam uses that allowance, which is the bottom seam for joining the gussets; luckily I spotted this, and with the small amount of ‘jiggling’ above, it all fitted. Stitching the zip is probably easier than a dress zip. I forgot to change to the zipper foot, but it wasn’t a problem. And stitching round the top edge, four times in total, is like setting in a sleeve. Ease, tack and it should work….. It did!

It’s not a quick sew. Including all of the prep work, it probably took me about 8 hours to make this. This version is not at all waterproof; but it’s quite wide, so should hold a fair amount of stuff on a dry day.

This is one of those things, that when I had finished I thought to myself, ‘You are clever!’ I say this, because people will often tell me that I am clever, making all these things, and most of the time, what they are commenting on was actually quite simple. Despite the pattern envelope telling me ‘Yes, its easy’, it’s not all that easy.


Second up, yet more Book Bags from the Maker’s Atelier Essential Collection. There are two in the picture above. The small bag is a nice size to carry (doesn’t drag on the ground when full) and is quite robust, although one friend has made so much use of hers that it needs mending. How many of these have I made so far? Seven? With almost certainly, more to come. Luckily, I thought this through a bit before lockdown, and made sure that I had a good supply of petersham  for the tops of the bags, and lining.

And now the free patterns.


I was about to make another Book Bag, when The Maker’s Atelier released the boxy shopping bag, for free, a couple of weeks ago. And right in front of me, ready to cut, was one of the slightly bigger off cuts. So 3 hours later, it had become a boxy shopping bag instead. I didn’t quite get the hang of how to top stitch round the corners. Instead I broke the stitching and handstitched round the corners. It’s already been to the supermarket, and is great for square shaped items. Apart from the handles circumnavigating the bag, it is not reinforced in any way, unlike the rucksack above, with all its interfacing and lining, so the fabric will tend to mould to the shape of the shopping. But as its normal to buy rectangular items, then I think it will be in regular use.


And finally, also released relatively recently, this time by Sew Me Something, the Croft Bag, which folds into its corner pocket. Oh, to be able to go to Stratford on Avon, and visit the Hall Croft, after which it is named. No soft furnishing off cuts this time, as a folding bag needs flexible fabric. The main bag is from my ‘sizable scrap pile’, and the pocket from my ‘slightly smaller scraps pile’. This is fairly straightforward and can probably be made in an hour and a half. The hardest part is probably finding the right sized and weights of spare fabric. No, that’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is sewing the hem around the tight angles at the base of the handles. Sew slowly, with small stitches, having pre-pressed the fabric, and it will be achievable. The bag has to be ‘scrunched’ into the pocket, so expect it to crease.

Which of these will I make again? (Next week, the week after etc. etc. until we are released)

The decision this afternoon was whether I made another Book Bag or updated my blog. Needless to say, updating the blog won, but there are plenty of suitably sized off cuts waiting to become more Book Bags. Whilst writing this, I had another idea about fabric that would make another back pack, which might just be a bit more substantial and a bit waterproof, although I can’t remember where I have put the left over fabric. There was quite a bit of it….. But I’m not sure that I need another, so maybe it will be a present. If I come across a large enough piece, I might make another boxy shopping bag, but that would also be a present. Another Croft Bag? Probably not.

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