Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Shopping Bag

I needed a new shopping bag. My last one came to a sad end in the washing machine where bits of it shrank rather badly. Serves me right for using fabric without checking if it was preshrunk I know. So I hunted through my 'interesting remnants' drawer and found this fabric which I'd bought on ebay but I'd thought the pieces were too small to make much with. I usually build my bag fronts round one interesting fabric, adding others for contrast and texture but these parrots were so gorgeous I really wanted a whole bag made from them.The pattern is here if you want to make one.

 By cutting and overlapping the pieces I managed to create a piece of fabric from nine sections laid onto a piece of vilene the size of the bag front. If you look really closely at the parrot bag you'll see that the blocks don't quite join up, some of the parrots are missing tails and one has the wrong head. However most people don't look that closely at a shopping bag and from a distance it looks fine.

I trapped the edges under velvet ribbons and machined them into place then used it to make the front of my bag.

Shopping bag
Main fabric and lining fabric
Bag front          14 1/2inches x 13 1/2 inches ( 37cm x 35cm)
Bag back         14 1/2inches x 13 1/2 inches (37cm x 35cm)
Bag side(cut 2) 6 1/2inches x 14 1/2 inches (16.5cm x 35cm)
Bag base          14 1/2inches x 6 1/2 inches (37cm x 16.5cm)

Stiffening for base (optional) 13 1/2inches x 5 1/2inches (35cm x 14cm)

Two strips of webbing each required handle length plus 2 inches(5cm) - I used 2 inch(5cm) wide webbing

Three metres of cushion cord(optional)

To make the bag
    1/2inch seam allowance ( 1.25cm) throughout

  • Pin sides to bag front (right sides together) and join pinned seams

  • Pin sides to bag back (right sides together) and join pinned seams

  • Pin base to bag front and backback (right sides together) and join pinned seams.

  • Pin base to bag sides(right sides together) and join pinned seams.
  • Turn bag right side out. 

Make up lining in the same way as the bag but  leave a 7inch(18cm) gap unseamed in one of the base sides. This will be used to turn the bag right sides out later. Leave lining wrong side out.

  • If you are using cord slipstitch it into place along side and base seams of front and back. Leave about 2inches (5cm) at each end and wrap this with tape to prevent fraying.

  • Find centre front of the top edge and mark with a pin
  • pin on handles 2 1/2 inches(6.5cm) from this mark
  • machine across them inside seam allowance to hold them in place. Remove pins
  • Repeat for back of bag

  • Base stiffening(optional)
  • Place stiffening in base and fold seam allowance over it.
  • Tack the stiffening to the seam allowance only

  • Drop bag into lining (right sides together
  • Pin and sew round top edge of bag
  • Remove pins.
  • Turn bag right side out through gap in lining
  • slip stitch gap closed
  • Put a line of topstitching around top of bag ( when I use cord I have to miss out the corners as my machine won't go over that thickness) 


  1. Hi Ann,
    great blog! Just thought I would remind any bag making crafters that curtain material is not generally pre shrunk. Keep up the good work!

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