About this blog

I make bags and post tutorials on how to make them. I'll tell you what went well and warn you about any disasters.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Lynette Anderson Friends Hand Bag

I saw this bag pattern in Lynette Anderson's book 'Quilting Cats and Dogs' and decided to make it to take to the fabulous Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK (Europe's biggest quilt show).  The front flap is made using needle turn appliqué (including suffolk puffs/yoyos) and embroidery, while the front and back are made from crazy patchwork on a lightweight calico foundation.  I used fabrics I already had in my stash/scrap bag and Bosal In-R-Form bag foam to give it structure.  The side panel, handle and lining are all made from a lightweight cotton denim.  I used a magnetic clasp rather than the loop and button suggested as I did't have a suitable button.

Lots of people approached me to admire the bag and I was lucky enough to meet Lynette Anderson there who gave it her seal of approval.  How exciting is that?!

As usual, I saw lots of new products which I scooped up to try in future bags. Lots of stands were selling Decovil and I sought advice on the Vlieseline stand on how to use it.  It is an adhesive stiffener which feels like leather and can be used with fabric or by itself with paint and embellishment in bag making to give that leather feel to a bag.  I bought some and can't wait to try it.

I also bought a jar of Odicoat which is applied to fabric to make it water resistant - a bit like oilcloth but without the plasticky feel.  That's another thing I'm looking forward to trying.

If any of you have any tips on using these products, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Bag #53: Sat Nav Pouch

Well it’s been a while since I last made a bag.  I hadn’t intended to leave it this long but I’ve been having a break from bag making.  Now I’m itching to get back to it.

This is a small bag for my sat nav.  My car doesn’t have a built-in device so I take my trusty TomTom with me wherever I go.  It has always been stored in its hard case, but it was a really tight fit and I struggled to get the zip done up.  Eventually the zip broke and so it was time for a new bag. 

I made this slightly bigger so that it would be a more comfortable fit and used bag foam to protect it.  It has a simple Velcro closure so it was super easy to make.  The Festival of Quilts is on in a couple of weeks’ time and quilting was on my mind, so I decided to quilt it to make it a bit more interesting.  I’m not good at adding piping so I included it because I like a challenge.

The dimensions can be altered to fit any ‘fat’ device such as a camera, charger, etc. (a bag for a flattish device like a laptop, phone or tablet wouldn’t need the gusset/side). As all devices vary, you should tailor it to your own device.  I probably should have made this a bit shorter as it ended up being a little tall for my sat nav.

I thought about adding a strap or handle but decided against it as the strap on my old hard case always got in the way.  You could easily attach a handle to the flap or to the top of the side panel if you wanted to.

You will need 2 fat quarters – 1 for the outer fabric and one for the lining as well as the same amount of wadding or bag foam. The fabric needs to be non-directional otherwise the print will be upside down when you fold the flap over.

I used bag foam for the front and back, but wadding for the sides as this made the bag a bit more flexible. Truth be told, I ran out of bag foam!  If you want a very firm bag, use bag foam and if you want a soft bag, use wadding/fleece.  If you prefer something in the middle, as I did, use a combination of the 2.   

The finished size is approximately 5½”/14 cm wide, 5½"/14 cm high and 2”/5 cm deep.

Skill level: Intermediate – it is quite tricky to manoeuvre around such a small bag when adding piping, and sewing curves.

I used a longer stitch length as I was using foam which is fairly thick.  I used 3.5 for the quilting and most of the seams and 4.5 for top stitching.  I used ¼”/6 mm seams for the outer bag and slighter wider seams for the lining.

I have included metric and imperial measurements but they are not exactly interchangeable, so you should stick to either one or the other.

Skills used in this project:
  •         Quilting
  •         Piping

Step 1: Cutting out

Cut out the following (but note the changes I suggest at the end):

6”/15 cm x 9½”/24 cm Bag back and flap (cut 1 outer fabric, one lining and one wadding/bag foam). Cut a gentle curve into two corners of one of the 6”/15 cm sides – see images below. The curved end will be the bottom of the bag.

6”/15 cm x 5½”/14 cm Bag front (cut 1 outer fabric, one lining and one wadding/bag foam). Cut a gentle curve into two corners of one of the 6”/15 cm sides – see images below.

2½”/ 6.5 cm x 17”/ 43 cm Bag side

46”/ 117 cm narrow piping cord

47”/120 cm Bias binding

5”/12.5 cm strip of Velcro

Step 2: Quilting the outer bag

Temporarily attach the outer fabric pieces to the corresponding foam/wadding using pins/fabric glue.


Decide on your quilting pattern.  I usually choose freeform free motion embroidery squiggles, but for this bag I chose diagonal lines.  I drew the first line onto the fabric with my Clover air dry pen and sewed over it, using the spacing bar on my machine to keep all the lines the same width apart. This pen is great because it gradually fades but if you want to remove immediately e.g. because you’ve made a mistake, it also has an eraser.  I didn't realise until half way through that I could have just followed the pattern on the fabric!!

Quilt all parts of the outer bag.

Step 3: Making the piping

I cut the piping into two lengths – 16”/41 cm for the front and the rest for the back/flap.  I cut the bias binding the same length for the front but there was an extra inch to overlap it for the back. The binding can be bought or cut on the bias from a piece of fabric.  It needs to be bias-cut as it needs some flexibility/stretch when going round the curves; straight cut binding just goes lumpy and looks ugly around curves.

Fold the binding around the piping and sew close to the piping using a zip foot.

Step 4: Attaching the piping to the bag

Trim the binding so that the flat part of the binding measures the same as your seam allowance.  I used ¼”/6 mm seams and trimmed the binding so that it measured ¼”/6 mm from the line I stitched in step 3 to the edge.

Pin the piping to the right side of the bag front starting at one top side and going round the bottom and up to the other top side.  There is no piping along the front top.  Match the edge of the binding with the edge of the fabric.  Sew it in place using a zip foot.

Do the same for the back/flap but this time the piping will go all round so you will need to make a neat join somewhere.  I chose to have my join at the bottom.  Leave the first half inch/12mm unsewn.  Sew all round and stop about an inch/2.5 cm before you get back to where you started.  Trim the cord so that the start and end meet seamlessly.  Fold one end of the binding over to hide the raw edge, overlap it over the bias binding where you started and wrap it round.  This will make a neat join.  Sew the end/beginning of the binding in place.

Step 5: Assembling the outer bag

Pin then sew the side to the front, right sides together, close to the piping, using a zip foot.  I made the side a bit longer than needed and trimmed it afterwards so that it matched the top of the front.

Now pin the side to the back, right sides together close to the piping. To find the centre, fold the side in half and mark the centre point at the bottom of the bag.  Do the same for the back.  Match up these points and pin, then sew the side to the front.

Make a few snips in the seam allowance at the corners so that the seams lay nice and flat or trim with pinking shears close to the seam.

Cut the edge of the bag foam back as close to the seam as you can.  I forgot to do this but it makes a much neater finish if you do it, especially around the flap.  

Step 6: Assembling the lining

Using your general purpose foot, sew the side lining to the front lining, right sides together and trim it to size.  Then sew the side to the back lining, as above, leaving a gap at the bottom for turning through.  Snip the corners as above.

Step 7: Attaching the lining

With right sides together, place the lining over the outer bag and sew around the opening and flap.  Turn through. Sew up the gap in the lining.

Top stitch around the top of the sides and front to create a neat finish and keep the lining/outer fabrics firmly in place.  You will be sewing through several layers here, so a longer stitch length will be needed.  I used 4.5.

Step 8: Attaching the velcro

Usually I would attach the closure before joining the lining, but I decided with this bag that it would be better to add it afterwards and make a feature of it.

Place your device in the bag and pull the flap over to work out where the Velcro needs to go.  Trim it to size. Pin it and sew in place through all the layers.  This would be the time to add any embellishments to the front if you wanted to.

I made a feature of it by using red thread on white Velcro which would have looked good if I had sewn in a straight line!


Now put your device in its new home and give yourself a treat for all that hard work!  I shall take my sat nav for a little outing to the coast when it finally stops raining.

In this project I learnt:

  • I hadn’t used the quilting space bar for a long time and I had forgotten how easy it makes straight line quilting. It was done in no time and all the stitches were the same length, unlike free motion embroidery where I struggle to keep them even.
  • I still hate piping.  I’ve never been any good at it and that hasn’t changed.  However, I was pleased with the look of the bag.  It wouldn’t have looked as good without the piping.
  • I made the pouch bigger than my previous sat nav bag which broke because it was too small.  However, I over-compensated and could have made it about an inch/2.5 cm shorter in height and it would still have been a comfortable fit.  I might end up using it for a different device, but it serves it purpose for now and will stand out in my glove compartment.