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One of my course participants, Marta, was really into sewing bags. She was always coming to the classes with a new piece of work. This bag has amazed me with its design and a super-easy construction. I’ve been given a permission to describe it in the tutorial. Marta, who was introduced to this bag by her mother-in-law, has made some modifications in the trimming. Now I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t made some by myself as well – it’s a job-related illness. And in this way another version of this beaut is ready to conquer the world. Attention! A lockstitch sewing machine would be the best for sewing bags- it’s a high powered machine. The reason is because there are often many layers to sew at once, and a regular machine might not be able to do it. If you don’t have a machine like that, then sew manually in the thickest places. Here we go!




You’ll need:

  • 1 meter of at least 1,2 m wide outer fabric and same amount of lining,
  • 8 m of 2,5 – 3 cm wide tape.
  • 50 cm long open zipper – the type that can be opened completely, and divided into two parts.
  • threads, pins, tailor’s chalk, scissors, a long ruler, and measuring tape.




Cut out squares from the main fabric and lining, size is 1 m on each side. From the left part of fabrics cut out two rectangles of 10 cm x 76 cm, which will be used to sew the handles at first. Pin the outer fabric and the lining together, placing the tape between them right near the edge (see picture above). Sew longer sides of rectangle in the equal  distance from the edge ( 1 cm), so that the tape’s width after sewing and turning it inside out will be equal.




Turn the handles right side out and press the edges. Then press the tape onto the outer fabric and sew its loose edge, while sewing all the handle’s layers together.




Cut out corners from the squares- it’s important to cut out an isosceles triangle with a 10 cm width base. The slash line should begin about 7 cm from the edge.




On the outer fabric, placed with its right side on the top, pin the tape along to each edge- pay attention to make the tape stick out a little outside of the cut corner’s bias. Unzip the zipper to divide it into 2 parts. Pin them in the middle of the top and the bottom edges of the square, turned wrong side out and with the serration turned to the inside of the square. Edges of the tape, zipper, and fabric should cover with each other.  Pin the handles on the cut corners, so that they’ll touch with the outer fabric with their right sides.  Place the shorter edges of the handles parallel to the bias of cut previously outer fabric’s corners. Put them exactly in the middle of the bias and make them stick out a little. In the picture below the square is creased just because otherwise it wouldn’t fit in the frame.




On this whole, place the lining headed with its right side downwards. Pin its edges with the outer fabric’s edges. All of the pinned before elements should be placed between the lining and the outer fabric.




Sew everything 1 cm from the edge, leaving on the one of sides (the one without a zip) an unsewed slit of 20 cm. Turn the bag right side out through the slit. If the width of fabrics in the corners isn’t right you can- like I did- make a small fold on the lining.




After turning up, fold unsewed edges of the fabrics to the inside of slit, and sew up on the outside with the tape between fabrics .




Press out all the edges. Then, like you did with the handles, press the tape on the outer fabric and sew its loose edge through all the layers.




Now fold the handles along in a half. It’ll cause the horizontal square edges touch with the vertical ones and they’ll make corners. On the edge of the tape sew the edges of those corners together. Start the seam close to the handle and finish it about 3 cm from the zipper. If your machine won’t manage so many layers, then you can place the seam a little under the edge, where there’s less of the fabric or sew those parts manually.




Zip it up. The bag is almost done. There’s just a loop shaped hole left on the sides. It can be arranged in many different ways: you can put snaps on it, sew on a tape loop, place a button there or just leave it the way it is. I suggest two options, which are based on point sewing across the tape.




First option:

Sew together the loop’s edges at the beginning, where you’ve finished sewing the edges of corners in the previous step – 3 cm from the zipper. This time make a small seam across the tape, only on its width.




Spread the loop to the sides, so that it shapes into a triangle, touching the corners with its edges. In the triangle corners do the seams across the tape.




Second option:

Start in the same way like in the first option, then stretch the loop to the sides, so that its edges will touch- flatten it, like you would do double fold. Do small stiches on the left and right side of the first seam, sewing  up only two layers of the flattened loop.




Done! Girls (my students) in the studio said that they like best the option with a different loop finishing on each side- so I’m going to leave it like this! If you don’t like the bag’s size, then sew it from a smaller square. With so many layers, folding, and sewing on the bias, surely something may move so don’t even worry if the ribbon edges won’t be fine- I had them right only in one place! Sewing is fortunately not a hospital :) So get to work and show off the results!




This tutorial has been prepared for you by Janek


He was using Brother PQ 1500s lockstitch sewing machine

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