So if I learned anything about sewing from my mom, it's to do it the easy way! When I saw the title of Amy Karol's book, Bend-the-Rules Sewing, I knew I had to get my hands on it!
And check out Amy's blog, angry chicken, for more rule-bending goodness and a very entertaining bias tape tutorial.
Now, who wants to make a bag? This is the Simple Tote from Amy's book, fully photographed, step by step. Well, except I left out the pocket. That's just me--I never use the pockets in my bags. This is the finished product:
I love this pattern because it's easy to modify if you want a different size or shape. The method of construction is great because the results are very finished and professional. The bag itself appeals to me because it's not too structured, but not too sloppy, and the handles make it a little unusual and do a wonderful job of holding the bag closed. So, on we go...
Start with: 2 pc. outer fabric (10.5 by 9) 2 pc. lining (10.5 by 9) 2 pc. cotton flannel for interfacing (10.5 by 9) one strip 2.5 by 16 one strip 2.5 by 8 OR whatever sizes you want, whatever handle sizes you want, etc. And you can put pockets in it, obviously!
Put outer fabric right sides together and stitch around three sides, leaving top open.
Stick your hand in the bag and kind of open everything up, so you can pinch the corner to square off the bottom. You will sew across the corner to make the bag boxy--it's up to you how far up to sew it; it just changes the shape a little.
If it helps, you can draw a line to follow. The only thing you should be careful of here is to make the corners even.
Ta da! It has corners! I forgot to take a picture, but you can now trim off those corners.
I can never resist turning it right side out to take a look.
For the lining it should go: flannel piece lining piece lining piece flannel piece And the lining pieces should be RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER. (I should have used fabric with an obvious right side in the demo.)
Amy is anti-pin, but all these layers do tend to shift, so I put in a few pins.
Again, sew three sides, leaving top open. Don't sew over your pins! (Thank you to Rosemary's niece for the Darling Petunia pincushion.)
You do the boxy corner thing again. It helps me to iron the seams open and iron the whole corner flat.
ARGH! Bobbin ran out! Hate. That.
Up and running again. Yes, sew and then clip the corners.
The directions say to turn the strips under 1/8 inch on the edge and press, fold in half lengthwise and press again. Truthfully? Fold over whatever you're comfortable with and don't worry about being too precise. No one will ever know.
Then you sew along the open edge. I like using contrasting thread. :)
So now you have an outer bag and an inner bag.
Stuff the inner bag into the outer bag so that the right sides are together. Get it in there nice and snug.
This is how the handle will go...get it set up the way you want...
...and then slip it in between the outer and inner layers (between the RIGHT sides).
Make sure it's kind of centered, then pin through the whole works: outer layer, handles, lining, and flannel.
Again, with the other handle, get it situated...
...position and pin.
This is the exciting part. Now you can sew through all the layers around the top of the bag. Leave a hole for turning. I leave three inches. You don't have to be stingy with the hole, thinking you're going to end up hand sewing--it's all done on the machine!
This picture is awful, but that's the hole.
You now turn the whole thing through that hole.
To everything...turn turn turn...there is a season...turn turn turn.
Once it's all through, it's sort of like the bag threw up its lining. Ewww!
There now. Shove that lining inside where it belongs. Oh my, look at that untidy hole!
Tuck those raggedy edges in and get back to your machine...
...where you'll topstitch all around the top of the bag and...guess what? YOU'RE DONE!
It will probably need a little touch up after being squished through that hole, so hit it with an iron. (Thanks to Wendy for the lovely lavender water.)
Just a glamour shot of the bag lying in the sun. Ah, so tropical! So warm!
So unlike the weather we're having so far this spring.