Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tutorial: Yarny Project Bags

For over a year, I used an old drawstring bag my sheets came in for a project bag. It was small enough to pack into almost anything, but big enough to fit most projects I made. It also was tacky beyond belief. After stabbing yet another hole into it accidentally, I decided I could make my own project bag that was exactly what I want, and cute too.

What sets my bags apart from all the others is that I use a separating zipper. I need a zipper because I have a cat who is completely addicted to yarn and will go to any means to play with it. I use a separating zipper so that even when the bag is zipped closed, I can be working on my knitting with the skein still in the bag and the yarn fed through a hole made by the zipper!

Excited yet? Let's get cracking then!

What You'll Need:
- Half a yard outside fabric (or 2 fat quarters)
- Half a yard liner fabric (or 2 fat quarters)
- 10" separating zipper that compliments your fabric
- Thread that compliments your fabric
- Marker/Fabric Pen
- Scissors (or fabric cutter)
- Sewing machine
- Iron

Step 1: Cut
2 of each:
- 12"x12" of outside fabric
- 12"x12" of liner fabric
- 6"x6" of outside fabric
- 6"x6" of liner fabric
1 of each:
- 3"x14" of outside fabric

Step 2: Pockets
There are two pockets, one on the outside and one on the inside. They both use 1 6"x6" piece of each fabric type. You'll make each pocket exactly the same, then attach one to each type of fabric. I like to do each step at the same time for both pockets.

Pin a piece of 6"x6" outside fabric and a piece of 6"x6" liner right-sides together. Mark a 2" gap in the center of one edge to indicate where you'll start and stop sewing.
Sew a 1/4" seam around the edge of the fabric, starting and stopping at the marks you made. The purple line on the picture above shows my seam. Trim any excess fabric you have, though not near the gap.

Flip the fabric inside out through the gap. Make sure to get the corners pushed out as much as you can. Fold in the fabric around the gap and iron to press the seams flat. Then, top stitch along the side with the gap in it, closing that gap. The purple line above shows my seam. This will be the top of your pocket.

Pin the pocket in the center of a 12"x12" piece of liner fabric, with the top-stitched side pointing to whichever side you want to be the top. This will be the open end of the pocket. You want the side of the pocket that matches the 12"x12" piece to be facing up. Top-stitch the pocket onto the 12"x12" piece.

Repeat this for the other pocket, but attach to the outside fabric, with the outside fabric of the pocket showing. (As you can see, I added this pocket on as an afterthought for this bag. You're just doing it earlier than I did.)

Step 3: Do the Zipper
I won't lie. This is the hardest step. I might have cursed a time or two when I first was figuring this out.. You're going to attach the zipper first to the outside fabric, then the inside fabric. If you have a zipper footer, it might help to use, but I don't have one (or know HOW to use one), so this tutorial assumes you don't either.

Get out your zipper, open it halfway. Using the piece of outside fabric that has the pocket attached, place the fabric face-up on the table and then pin the zipper centered, face-down along the top edge. Make sure your pocket is facing the correct way!
Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance. Sewing past the zipper was a pain in the butt for me, so what I did was start the seam and get it far enough along the zipper that I could zip it shut and not have the pull in the way. Trying to sew around the pull is annoying, so move it when you can. It might be tricky, but you can move it with the needle in the fabric and the footer lifted and not mess up your seam.

I don't have pictures of this next bit, but I'll try and explain. Lay the piece of fabric you just put the zipper on face-up on the table and flip the zipper up so that it's face-up too. Then, pin the other 12"x12" piece of outside fabric face-down to the zipper's unattached edge. Make sure you line up the fabric's sides with the other piece of fabric. It won't line up perfectly at the bottom edge because of the zipper, this is supposed to happen! When it's pinned (and/or then sewn), you should be able to flip the fabric up so it looks like the below picture.
Sew with a 1/4" seam allowance, moving the zipper pull as needed. Your result should look like above (but with a pocket on one piece, oops).

Now we get tricky. Unzip the zipper halfway and fold the piece together so the outside fabric pieces are face-to-face, with the pocketed piece on the bottom. Shift it so that the zipper lies flat with one side showing. The zipper should be face-down. Lay the UNpocketed piece of liner fabric face-down with the top edge lined up with the zipper's exposed edge. I've flipped a corner of the liner up so you can see how I've layered it in the picture below.
Line the sides of the fabric up with the other squares and pin the top edge to the zipper & outside fabric. You'll be sewing through 3 layers: The outside pocket piece, the zipper, and then the unpocketed liner piece. Sew the pinned edge with a 1/4" seam allowance, moving the zipper pull as needed.

Last tricky piece, I promise. Lay what you've made so far back on the table with it folded up again, zipper half undone. This time have the UNpocketed piece of outside fabric on the bottom, face-up, and the zipper laying so that the edge attached to that piece of fabric is exposed. The piece of liner fabric you just attached should be face-up on top. Grab your pocketed liner fabric piece and lay it face down, lined up on the sides, with the top edge lined up with the zipper. Make sure your pocket opening is up! Pin along the top edge, though the outside fabric, zipper, and pocketed liner fabric piece. I've flipped the corner up on the piece your attaching to show you the layers in the picture below.
You'll be sewing through 3 layers: The outside fabric piece, the zipper, and then the pocketed liner piece. Sew the pinned edge with a 1/4" seam allowance, moving the zipper pull as needed.

Your resulting piece should look like the picture below when you unfold everything and have the zipper face up. I've flipped over an edge so you can see the liner fabric is back-to-back with the outside fabric.

Press the seams along the zipper, pulling the fabric taunt. Pin and top stitch along the zipper, moving the zipper pull as needed. The picture below shows the bottom side of the zipper, after the top stitching (the liner fabric shows the thread better for pictures).
Ta-da! You've just attached a zipper!!!

Step 4: Make & Attach the Handle
I didn't take many pictures of this piece, so bear with me and my poor Photoshop skills.

Take the 3"x14" piece of fabric you cut and fold it lengthwise, like a hotdog bun, and have the right side of the fabric showing. Press the fold. Unfold the fabric and then fold vertically again, this time folding both edges in to meet the pressed line that you just did. Press these two new folds. You've just done what I tried to show in the purple box below.

Now, fold the fabric vertically along the first fold again, so the edges are tucked in, like in the pink box above. Pin along the open edge and then sew this edge together, as close as you can, like with a top stitch. Then, top stitch the fold edge. You should result in something like the picture below.

Take the body of your bag and lay it out so that the pocketed outside fabric piece is face-up in front of you, with no other layers beneath or on top of it. Take the handle you've just made and fold it in half, horizontally. You have more fabric than you actually need for your handle, but that's so you can find a length of loop that works for you. Pin the sides of the handle together so that you make a loop that is about an inch bigger than the size you want your handle to be. I figured this out for me by putting the handle on my wrist and pretending I was carrying the bag. Once you've got the size marked with a pin, position the handle on top of the pocketed outside fabric piece, about 1.5" to 2" from where the fabric meets the zipper. Line up the pin you marked the handle with to the side of the outside fabric's right edge, with the fold facing inward like the picture below.
Pin the handle in place and then baste it in place with a seam that is inline with the edge of the zipper, like shown above. Remove all the pins you've put in the handle and then repin the handle to the outside edge of fabric close to the folded end of the handle. This is just to keep the handle in place while you finish the bag. Trim the extra bit of handle fabric that's over the edge of the main fabric so it's all even.

Step 5: Make It Into a Bag!
This is the step where everything comes together. I didn't take pictures of this step with the orange bag, but I do have pictures! For the bag pictured in these steps, the darker green fabric is the outside and the beige fabric is the liner.

Unzip the zipper halfway if it isn't already and lay out your bag so that outside fabric pieces are face to face and the liner pieces are as well. Pin the outside pieces with their faces together and then do the same for the liner pieces. You're going to have to fold the zipper in half and do some tricky pinning on the one end.
On the end of the zipper that is separated, you want to pin one side of the zipper so it is on the liner side of the fold; the other side of the zipper is pinned to the outside fabric side. See the image below to see what I mean.
Mark a 3" gap in the center of the bottom of the liner pieces. Sew around the pin edge with a 1/2" seam allowance, starting and stopping on either side of the marked gaps. You'll be sewing right up against the edge of the zipper's end on one side, and you'll be sewing about 1/4" into the separated side of the zipper. See the purple line on the image below to see my seam.
Notice I flared out a bit towards the ends of the fabric to give a little more room. I also back stitched over the zippers and handle a couple of times to reinforce those seams.

Step 6: Shaping & Finishing
In this last step, you'll go ahead and make the corners/bottom of the bag and then turn everything inside out. If you don't want a flat bottom on the bag, go ahead and skip this first part.

First you're going to make the flat bottom of the bag. You're going to do this step four times, once for each corner of the bag. Go ahead and start with one of the liner corners. Pull the two layers of the liner apart and then align the bottom seam with the side seam. Press the seams together so that you get a triangle, where the seam is in the center. You don't need to press the whole bag, just a few inches worth. See the purple box below for what I mean.
Once you have the corner nice and flat, take a ruler and place it perpendicular to the seam. Position the ruler so that it forms a triangle on the corner, with the base of the triangle measuring 4". See the pink box in the image above for what I mean. Mark the line, pin it, and then sew along the line. The purple line marks my seam. Trim the corner off, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance (dotted line is where I cut). Repeat this process for each corner of the bag.

Once all the corners are made and trimmed, flip the bag right-side out by pulling it through the gap you made in step 5. You might have to unzip the zipper completely part-way through pulling everything through. Make sure you get the fabric completely flipped, even in the corners. Put the liner inside the bag to make sure that everything lines up right. Unpin your handle and make sure it's on the outside edge and securely attached. Make sure everything's the way you want it, as the last step will finish the bag and seal it all up.

If everything looks good, pull the liner out of the bag again and fold the edges of fabric into the gap. Pin the gap shut and top-stitch it closed. You might want to press the seam before you stitch it. See the purple line below for my seam.

Tuck the liner back into the bag and BAM! You're done.

Grab some yarn, your needles (or hooks), and cast on!

So far I've used these bags for a Clapotis that used two skeins of sock yarn, a ski mask, two hats at once (each with their own skeins), and a pair of socks. I also keep a small pair of foldable scissors, darning needles, measuring tape, and stitch markers in each bag's inside pocket. In some cases, even another set of needles and/or crochet hooks! Love love love these bags.

I've also made larger versions of the bag by cutting bigger pieces of fabric and using larger zippers. Though, I would change the handle type if making one much bigger than these.

As always, do not use this tutorial to make a profit without first asking me. This means don't sell the tutorial or the bags you make using it. Hate to have to say that.. but yeah..

1 comment:

  1. I really like the look of these bags . . .and have knitting projects to go in them. I read through the entire tutorial and think I can follow it. Hoping to get a bag made in the next week. Thanks for sharing.