Category Archives: Bags

An experiment that failed in the final furlong

  Stitching showing through from the internal pockets

A little while ago I made my first ‘Peek-a-boo’ wallet with vinyl pockets. I am pleased with the result but have always felt that there was room for improvement.

End of the zip ‘ripples’ at the edges

I was unhappy with the way that the KAM snaps were inserted, that the shaped end was left open for turning rather than the straight end, that the zip teeth went right to the edge of the wallet and ‘rippled’ and finally that the stitching of the pockets on the inside came through to the outer cover. I decided to address these issues and make a new wallet using some remnant Skandi print Christmas fabric and leftover shower curtaining from a.n.other project.

All went exceedingly well until the final furlong which involved inserting the second KAM snap into the flap that would enable the wallet to be folded up and secured.

I realise now some of the reasons for the failure are; 1) I have used a thicker polyester wadding and 2) the flap not only has wadding, 2 layers of fabric AND some medium weight interfacing. All these layers mean that it is a struggle for the snap to be inserted fully. I used the ‘male’ snap on the flap and try as I might (at least 5 attempts) I could not get sufficient closure on the snap so that it would ‘pop’ into the ‘female’ part. I wish that I had used an alternative closure!

So a lesson learned. I will definitely make this wallet again and next time will avoid issues with the KAM snaps by using a button and loop instead.

Here is the final wallet, closed but not secure!

Peek-a-Boo Pouch

Pouch closed

During a recent visit to a friend she showed me a project made from a free pattern on the Craftsy website. This Peek-a-Boo Pouch is very different to other projects and at the same time offers another opportunity to use some clear vinyl. I had to try out this project as I felt it could be a contender for Christmas gifts to friends and relatives. I decided to use a fat quarter of a pretty pink cotton printed with poodles and various other motifs.

Now, I am a pretty confident stitcher but I did not find this pouch particularly easy to sew. Firstly, I had difficulty stitching the zip to the clear vinyl and in the end had to bind the edges of the vinyl to provide a good base for the feed dogs on the machine. Secondly, I could not work out which part and why, the KAM popper should be inserted at this stage, to the straight end of the pouch. This all became clear when the pouch was all but finished and to apply the KAM popper was made very difficult as virtually all the seams had been stitched. As demonstrated by my friend, the ends of the zip are enclosed in the outer seam of the pouch which does not make for the neatest of finishes. Next time I will apply binding at the ends of the zip. I think that my measuring of the vinyl pockets must have been off – the line of dividing stitches for the slip pocket shows through onto the outside front of the pouch and it does not fold into 3 quite the way that it should. Finally, the instructions advise to leave a gap in the curved end of the pouch to facilitate turning through but then it is more difficult to get a neat curve on the finish. Next time I will leave a gap in the straight end of the pouch.

Pouch opened out

That being said I believe that the concept of the pouch is very good.I fully intend to make another and incorporate various features that will improve the final project.

Zip Top Window Project Bag

Some time ago I made a ‘trial’ version of a zip topped bag that had a ‘window’ at the front so that it was easy to see the contents of the bag. I have found the bag to be very useful and wanted to refine the project.

Original window project bag

The original bag size had been defined by the size of the vinyl (shower curtain remnant) used for the window but as I now have metres of clear vinyl I could make the bag to whatever dimensions I wanted.

I wanted the finished bag to be approximately the same size as a piece of A4 paper so that if the project had written instructions, they could be included in the bag without being folded. After a false start when I made the window much too big with bindings that were too narrow, I did eventually come up with the correct dimensions to have the finished bag the size that I wanted.

A4 sized window project bag

Due to the ‘trial and error’ nature of construction I have not timed myself for this bag but now that I have the correct cutting dimensions I intend to make another to check the time required to make this project.


Strip Patchwork Storage Bin

Whilst surfing the worldwide web I came across instructions for this charming and useful storage bag made from scraps of cotton fabric. The scraps are cut into strips measuring 1½ inches x 5 inches. The base of the bag is a single rectangle and then the lining is cut from a co-ordinating fat quarter. I needed only a small piece of wadding and the end result is a charming storage bag measuring 5 inches high x 5 inches wide x 3 inches deep. The bag is an ideal size for storing a variety of items or as a gift. For the next version I intend to increase the size. As I had originally intended to make window project bags for my friends for their Christmas gifts but with time passing at an alarming rate, they may eventually end up with versions of this storage bag.

Half Dresden Peg Bag

I did say that I was hooked on this new (to me) patchwork block. Today I played around with some scraps and made a new peg bag. This project is also being promoted as a half-day class at New Threads Quilt Shop but before it is listed on the internet I need to make a ‘master’ version of the bag.

I have learned quite a few tricks by making this one and I look forward to using it. I guess that once I have ‘finessed’ the design it will be a useful project to give as Christmas presents (oops there’s that C word again!).

Bag-making Workshop at New Threads Quilt Shop

My bag – finished at home

Roberta, Pauline and Anne had seen the various examples in the New Threads Quilt Shop and on-line so on Saturday the three ladies arrived to spend the day making a ‘Maggie’ bag. In addition to the examples in store, I also showed the latest incarnation – a prototype for the smallest bag which includes an unusual fastening of grommet and tab with popper (posted on my blog 20th May).

Roberta and Pauline elected to make the Medium-sized bag.

Roberta’s bag – a work in progress

whilst Anne (who had previously attended one of my workshops for the Cross Body Bag) decided to tackle the small size with the grommet!

Anne’s bag – just needs some finishing touches

Pauline’s bag – awaiting the lining

We all enjoyed a day of cutting, stitching and chatting. By the end of the day each lady had made good progress with her bag, leaving only a small amount of ‘homework’ to finish the project.

Window Project Bag

On yet another occasion when sleep has evaded me, I got to thinking about sewing projects. I recalled that I had some leftover sheets of vinyl from when I made the Sew Sturdy Organiser Case (posted 31 December 2016). Surely there was away that I could use them up? I often have part-completed projects piled up at the side of my sewing desk, how much better it would be if they could be stored in project bags – and how much better if those bags had a clear vinyl window so that I could tell quickly and easily what was in the bag.

I had a few pieces of the quilting cotton left over from the small Maggie bag project and decided to see if I could make up a window project bag. The sewing machine was threaded with the correct coloured thread and I had a spare zip in Bright Pink that would compliment the colours in the printed cotton. Within 40 minutes I had completed the project bag and I am delighted with it. I will keep it on hand and as soon as I have another ‘window’ (see what I did there?) in my sewing schedule will write up instructions on how to make these decorative and useful bags.

Small ‘Maggie’ Bag – a trial run

Small Maggie Bag – Front

For the upcoming ‘Maggie’ bag workshop, I needed to calculate the cutting plan for the smallest-sized bag. The best way to do this is to make a bag. It is so much easier to check the proportions when you have an actual bag in front of you.

I checked my stash of bag-making fabrics and pulled out a script-print linen from New Threads, Weyhill Fairground, which co-ordinated really well with some faux suede (source unknown).

Fabrics: Linen, Faux Suede, Quilting Cotton

I checked back to the cutting plans for the large and medium-sized bags and then made some size decisions based on those comparisons and proportions. I cut the bottom panel, straps and flap from the faux suede. The top panel, top binding strip, external slip pocket and external zipped pocket were cut from the linen fabric. For the lining I used a fat quarter of cotton print purchased from Fabricland. The wadding was a one-side fusible Bosal ® and the zips for the pockets came from my stash.

I did some test stitching and was a little concerned that the faux suede was a real b….. to sew. But hey ho – onwards and upwards!

I decided to go ‘off plan’ with the flap which for the other bags in the range have a twist lock. This bag would have a circular grommet on the flap which would then be fastened by passing through a strap which would be secured with a popper.

Grommet and strap popper top fastening in nickel finish

Underside of the popper is plastic

The construction of the bag was fairly straightforward with only a few minor adjustments to the dimensions of pieces which were jotted down ready for a new cutting plan.

Internal slip pocket

Internal zip pocket

The finished bag measures 10½“ high x 7½“ wide x 2¾“ deep and was just about completed when I thought the long handles look a bit floppy and unsubstantial.

I decided to try inserting some piping cord – a method that I had seen on bag patterns from The Bobbin Patch. It would have been easier if I had planned ahead for this! By using the zip foot and some ‘gentle persuasion’ I managed to stitch the cord inside the folded handles. They now look much better and more in proportion to the rest of the bag. This method for handles is something that I will be using again on other bags. Next time I will make the straps a little wider so that I can use plastic tubing for the insert and thus avoid the ‘crinkles’ caused by the piping cord.

Small Maggie Bag – Reverse

On the whole I am pleased with the resultant bag although I am not impressed with the fusible Bosal ® which tends to leave a ‘dimpled/cellulite’ finish if you are not careful. I much prefer the sew-in version and will make a point of stocking up with some more as soon as possible.

2nd Sample ‘Maggie’ Bag

Front of the Maggie bag

Of the two Maxi-sized ‘Maggie’ bags, I am not sure which one I prefer. Having made this second bag using fabrics bought at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill, I can foresee that this will be very useful throughout the Spring and coming Summer months. Florals are definitely my thing! I will reserve the ‘Hares’ printed bag for use in the Autumn.

I wrote quite extensively about this bag when I first made it in the ‘Hares’ fabric so will not repeat myself. Suffice to say that having previously written up all the instructions complete with cutting plan, this bag went together very much more quickly than before. I am particularly pleased with the contrast Pink top stitching. For that I used the triple stitch feature on my machine and made the stitch length 4.5.

I have already drafted and made up the ‘medium’-sized Maggie bag which appeared on the blog sometime ago. All that now remains is to calculate and make up this style of bag in the smallest size. I still have remnants of the Blue & Beige floral linen-look fabrics so hope to be able to use them for the final project.

Reverse of the Maggie bag


After several fairly straightforward projects mostly using my Juki overlocker I decided that I should now attempt something a little more challenging and also re-visit my newest Brother 550 Special Edition sewing machine. A very good friend has a birthday coming up so the Sew Sturdy Essential Back Pack by Annie Unrein on Craftsy would seem to be an ideal project.

This stylish travel-friendly backpack has secure zipped closures and plenty of pockets to keep everything neat yet easy to access. A quick grab padded handle and adjustable straps make it easy to carry and wear. The backpack has a full zipped pocket on the back plus another inside. Two slip pockets on the side and two interior slip pockets provide easy access to water bottles, mobile phone, keys and more. The flap on the outer front pocket opens to reveal six slots for credit cards and ID.

The internal mesh pocket

The backpack measures approximately 14” high and tapers from 12” wide at bottom to 9” wide at top and 5”deep at bottom to 3” deep at top.

I decided to make the backpack in a main fabric print of Black & White ‘newsprint’ cotton with a lining of Grey floral print cotton both purchased from Fabricland. The contrasting binding was a plain Bright Red cotton came from my stash.

Using the same procedure as that for the Organiser Sewing Case I first downloaded the Craftsy lesson to my Android tablet before assembling all the ‘ingredients’ for the project. First I had to prepare and quilt two large pieces of fabric, Bosal ® and lining sandwiches with channels set 1¼ inches apart. By watching each lesson, reading the class materials and then carrying out the lesson the backpack came together over the course of three intensive sessions of sewing. Although some of the procedures are the same as those utilised for the Organiser case, I still learnt some new techniques and enjoyed the challenge of a totally new project.


Completed backpack –  Front                                   Reverse

I have delayed posting this project as it is for a good friend’s birthday and I did not want her to see the gift too soon and spoil the surprise!