Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How to Make a Soft Sewing Bag

Interested in making this cute bag? Then read on....

Before we begin with the tutorial, let me just say that this bag is not an original idea of mine. This project is featured in a book called "A Passion for Patchwork" by Lise Bergene. While I have actually changed and/or added some steps, the basic procedure remains the same.

Materials needed:

one 12x12" outside fabric
one 12x12" inside fabric
two 12x12" batting
two 2x12" strips of the same fabric as inside (or different, if you prefer)
two 2x12" strips of stiff interfacing
one 16" zipper
two 1/2x3" ribbon
matching threads

* Note: If you plan to quilt your bag, cut your fabric pieces and batting slightly larger than the required size.


1. Sandwich the batting between the wrong sides of outside and inside fabrics. Pin pieces together heavily. If you do not wish to quilt, skip step 2.

2. Quilt as you wish -- sew straight and/or diagonal seams or use free-motion quilting. After quilting, cut the piece to size, 12x12".

3. Iron interfacing onto the wrong side of the 2x12" pieces. Seal one side in zigzag stitch to prevent fraying.

4. Sew the interfaced fabrics on both of the zip sides, with right sides together and using a 1/4" seam allowance.

5. Zigzag stitch raw edges on the wrong side.

6. Press the edges over to the right side and sew a stitching line on the very edge of the fold.

7. Fold in the other long edge of the strip to about 3/4" to prepare for zipper attachment. With right sides up, place your 16" zip along the folded edge. (Make sure the zipper is centered, with 2" extra hanging on both ends.) Stitch it down as close as possible to the zipper teeth. Open up the zip as you go along to make stitching easier.

This is what you'll have so far....

8. Sew a machine seam across the zip (near the short side of the bag). Cut off the zip ends. Open the zip halfway.

9. Take your ribbon and bring the ends side by side. Sew the edges to the zip ends on the right side of the bag, as in the photo above. Do the same with the other ribbon piece on the other side. Alternatively, you can use strips of fabric instead of ribbon. Cut two 2x3" strips. Press raw edges to the middle (lengthwise), then fold again towards the center. Sew down very close to the edge.

10. Turn bag inside out and and fold in 2 pleats of fabric towards the middle of the bag. Pin in place. See additional diagram above for clarity.

11. Sew 1/2" seams above the folds and seal the seams with zigzag stitch. If you are happy with the way your seams look, then you can skip the next steps and can turn your bag right side out now. If your edges turned out messy (like mine), you can cover them up with a strip or bias binding.

12. Cut two 2x5" strips of your inside fabric. Press raw edges towards the middle, then fold again to the center. Open the strips. Machine-stitch the binding in place along the crease.

13. Fold the binding to the other side and slip-stitch in place. That's much neater, isn't it?
Turn bag to its right side, arrange the pleats to give the bag its proper shape.

Congratulations! You are done. And here's the inside...

Finished bag is approximately 8 1/2" long, 4 1/2" wide and 4" deep. If you want to make a smaller bag, you can use: 8x8" inside/outside fabrics, 1 3/4x8" edges for the zip and a 10" long zip.

Hope the instructions were clear enough. I am happy to answer any questions. Happy sewing everyone!!!


  1. I saw your post over on Craftster, so I came to take a peek at your blog - great tutorial, and great bag!

  2. Hi, I also popped over here from Craftster : ) I'm in the process of making a bag like this and I can't get my ends to look nice and neat at all so I thought I'd check out your tute & see if it helps! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I am another who has come from Craftster
    I love this little bag, I was looking for something to make as a wash bag for my Grandsons school trips, it only needs to hold a few things for him, you know what boys are like for losing things!
    Thanks for the tut

  4. Hi, I'm from Craftster too. Thank you for this tutorial. You did a great job!

  5. This looks like it would make a wonderful pencil/pens case as well, in sturdy fabric.

  6. Thank you for this great tutorial! I loved making mine!!

  7. Thank you for such a clear tutorial. It's just what I was looking for.

  8. Thank you very much. Have looked everywhere for a lined one. You genius. Thanks again.

  9. Gostei do tutorial e do seu blog, parabéns! Obrigada!

  10. Hello from the Czech Republic! I am going to sew this great bag very soon, thank you very much for the tutorial!