Thursday, November 26, 2015

Random Patchwork Bag Tutorial

I've been a little bag making crazy lately. All of a sudden I've gotten the urge to make these patchwork bags until I can't make any more, lol.  After some recent compliments on my rosy tote shown on my instagram page here and here and a detail section here I was inspired to make more...I have 2 very large boxes of fabric remnants ranging in size from 1x1 inch, maybe even smaller(!) to about a 1/4 yard-maybe a little bigger (!)  I've made 3 totes in just the last few days, and have not even come close to making a dent in my boxes! These are great for (most people's) stash busting- They are lots of fun, coming together in a random patchwork way- the end result ends up being a surprise even to me :)

Another, recent bag is also on instagram@andrea1creates

Here's a tutorial on how I put the bags together. 
No 2 totes are alike even though I generally start out with the same size 'base'. The final dimensions end up depending on how many remnants I have that go together. The surprising end result is what makes them so fun to make!
Please keep in mind these totes are for lightweight things. I use mine to take a snack to work and a small book or 2, my hat and a notebook or maybe a knitting project.
It does help to have a little patchworking experience but not necessary as I explain what you need to do in the basic directions below. I have never done a proper patchwork project that required meticulous sizes or precise cutting- I just patchwork as I go!

What you'll need:

*Lots of fabric scraps. I like to use my quilter's weight cotton remnants. Enough to cover a good 20 x 20 square inches
*A lining-also lightweight or maybe a homespun woven, or home dec. (I usually use what I have enough of on hand) 18 x 18 inches
*Muslin base 18 x 18 inches
*Woven twill tape handles or other similar sturdy ribbon works well too (not wired) about 26 inches.
* Optional: a short ribbon scrap about 3 inches long, crochet lace trim, a doily or buttons-embellishment possibilities are endless.

Prepare your pieces:

Start by cutting 2 pieces of muslin 18 x 18 inches square. This will the base to which the patchwork will be attached.
Cut 2 handles about 13" long-You can make them longer just make sure they are both the same length.

You can cut 2 lining pieces 18 x 18 inches now or save that for later when you know exactly how big the exterior piece will be.
Next gather your fabric remnants, pressing them and cutting the edges so that they are straight- either squares or rectangles. They do not need to be perfectly even (mine are not always) but it does help in the sewing process.

Begin patchworking:

These bags can be done in many different ways obviously all depending on the size of your remnants. The bags shown above used up fairly large scraps so I did not need to do too many 'rows' (for example the beige bag used only 1 piece for the 1st 'row' and 2 pieces for the 2nd row and again 1 for the bottom on it's front side)

The following is a basic example of how I patchwork as I go ...

1st row - start by laying the largest/ focal remnant piece flush in the upper left corner of one of the muslin bases. With a narrow seam allowance, baste this piece down along it's right side edge (it does not need to cover the entire height (or width) of the muslin base but if it does, hey you'll be done even quicker!). 

Now choose a 2nd remnant and cut it to as close to the same height as the 1st basted remnant. If it is not the same height of the 1st remnant, find another scrap (and if necessary, a 3rd and so on) and stitch them together(right sides facing,then pressing seams open) until this new piece measures the same height as the first basted remnant. 
Place this 2nd piece on top of the 1st basted piece, right sides together and with a regular stitch length stitch the 2nd piece to the 1st basted remnant along the right side. Press this seam open. On the front, press the stitched seams. Continue in this manner until you have covered the width of the muslin base.

2nd row - If you have not covered the entire height of the muslin base with row 1 start on the 2nd 'row':
Lay out the remnants for the 2nd row until a few inches more than the width of the muslin base is covered. Stitch them together pressing seams open, then stitch this 2nd row to the 1st row. Press this seam open. Press on the front side of the seams.

Check to see if the entire muslin base is covered. If not, continue with a 3rd row and or adding to the sides and so on if necessary, in the manner above until it is.

Repeat for the 2nd muslin base/back of the bag in the same way.

If you want to add lace trim do so now. 

If your bag's front and back pieces are not the same size, lay one on top of the other and trim edges even. Note these measurements to make the lining later.

Stitch bag front and back pieces right sides together with a 1/2 " seam allowance down the right, bottom and left sides. Press seams open. Cut a 1 inch square from both bottom corners of the bag to make a gusset. Line up and stitch the side and bottom seams together.

Find the center of the bag and mark with an erasable marker or pin. Now measure over 2 inches on either side of this mark and pin the handles in place with the ends flush to the top of the bag. Repeat for other handle / side of bag and stitch in place twice (once with a narrower seam allowance).

Now cut 2 lining pieces to the dimensions you noted from your bag's evened up exterior pieces. Stitch right sides together as you did the bag's exterior pieces except this time leave about a 4 inch opening at the bottom. Again, cut a 1 inch bottom square from each bottom corner for the gusset and press seams open. 

If you are adding a ribbon tab to the top of the bag, do so now. I cut about a 3 inch length of ribbon, folded in half and stitched to the exterior side seam in the same way as the handles.

Place the lining inside the exterior bag right sides together and pin the side seams and handles so they are aiming straight down, Stitch around the top with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Press seams.

Pull the exterior through the lining opening and topstitch. Stitch lining opening closed and voila~ a new random patchwork tote!

1 comment:

Martina said...

Happy New year dear Andrea! Love your pretty bags here - fill them with January goodies and LOVE!

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