Saturday, November 3, 2007

Handbag for Sophia

Sophia, my sister's youngest girl, likes polka dots right now. And she likes pink and yellow. I decided to try making a handbag. My friend Liz makes them so I asked for her help. She explained it to me over the phone and emailed photos to explain the especially counter-intuitive part about making the 'bottom' of the bag. Here is the bag I made for Sophia. It took about three hours.

To make a bag like this, you'll need the following:
2-Scissors; a pencil
3-Sewing machine
5-Fusible interfacing
7-Rotary cutter/mat/ruler

There are three parts to the bag: the inside, the outside, and the handles. Make the inside the same way as making the outside. I used a cream fabric to make the inside, but muslin will also work, or use another pretty fabric. If you want the outside of the bag to be made from one piece of fabric, cut a piece 14" x 23". I wanted to use several different fabrics, so I chose one fabric for the bottom and top pieces, and pieced several other fabrics together to make the middle pieces. I cut one bottom piece from a dark fabric, 14" x 10". I cut two strips of fabric from the same dark fabric, 14" x 2" each. Then, I cut 5.5" strips from various pink and yellow fabrics, some at 2", some at 3", and some at 2.5 inches wide. I sewed the pink and yellow strips together so the whole combined strip was 5.5" wide and at least 30" long. I ironed the seams. Then I cut the pieced section into two 14" x 5.5" segments, and sewed each piece to the dark bottom fabric on either side (I made sure the same fabrics would match up later when sewn together). Then I sewed the top dark strips to the pieced fabric. I ironed the seams. Then I ironed the whole piece to a 14" x 23" piece of fusible fleece. I didn't realize I was buying fleece at the time, instead of interfacing, but it worked out okay and made it softer than interfacing would have. After ironing the fleece to the fabric, I folded the fabric in half, right sides together, and sewed a 1/2" seam down both sides of the piece, creating a 'bag.'
Then I drew a line on the interfacing parallel to the bottom of the bag, 1.5" from the bottom. I drew a line on both sides of the bag.

Then, and this is the part that took my mind a few hours to understand, I put my hand inside the bag and formed a triangle so the drawn lines met up at the corner of the sewn bag.
Here is another way of looking at it. You can see the seam, and the bottom of the bag is at the top side of the picture. Then I sewed along that penciled line.
I used a straight stitch but I backstiched along the whole thing just to give the seam extra support.
Here is what the corner looks like with the seam made. I could say I used dark thread for the purposes of this demonstration, but actually, that is what was left in my machine from hemming my suit a few weeks ago.
Then, I clipped the excess fabric off.
After doing that to both corners, I turned the bag right side out. You can see, to the right of the outside, the inside part of the bag, which is made exactly the same way, but it is left "inside out" since the "outside" of the "inside" will be the "inside of the outside." Then I pressed the bags towards the fusible sides (the outside bag was pressed inwards, and the inside bag was pressed outwards, as you can see in the photo). I pressed about 3/4" of the outside bag and about 1" of the inside bag, so the inside bag would be slightly lower than the outside bag.
Then I pinned the two together. You can see how the inside bag is about 1/4" lower than the outside bag.

Now for the handles. I suppose there are many ways to make the handles. I cut 2 strips 2" x 18" from a yellow fabric, and 2 strips 2" x 18" from a pink fabric. I sewed the pinks to the yellows, and pressed the seams.
Then I ironed a strip of the fusible fleece to the seams of the sewn strips (I used fusible leftovers that were only 1/2" wide, cut to 18" long, but it would be good to use 3/4" wide or more depending on how big you want your straps).

Then I folded the yellow over the fusible and pressed the pink edge about 1/4".
I turned the pink over on top of the yellow on one strap and the yellow on top of the pink on the other strap, and sewed along the edge. You can see that I installed yellow thread. Then I cut the ends so they would be neat and clean, which really was unnecessary since the ends are hidden.
I pinned the handles 2" away from the side seams of the bag, with the handle end 1" deep between the inside bag and outside bag.
I sewed along the inside edge of the bag, backstitching every now and then, but particularly where the handles come out of the bag.
And here is a lovely, quick and easy bag for Sophia.
Tonight or tomorrow I'm going to make another one using that cheetah fabric I bought awhile ago. I still haven't made a stuffed animal with it. This bag was fun and easy to make, once I was able to understand the concept of forming the bottom of the bag by sewing a line across the corners.

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