Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tutorial: How To Make Cloth Shopping Bags, Part 2, Sewing

Click here for Part 1, Cutting and Pinning Cloth.

This is the part of the bag construction when I like to use my serger, but if you don't have a serger, do a zig-zag stitch with your sewing machine, near the edge of the fabric, wherever I mention serging.

SO GLAD I labeled these knobs when I first got the serger!

Threading this beast can be a little...overwhelming.

Ooops. Remains of the last project. Time to vacuum the fuzz out!
Serging the straps:
If you ironed and pinned your straps as described in Part 1 of this tutorial, you can turn your knife off and serge without it because we hid all of the unfinished edges on the inside of the strap. Serge both sides of each strap, removing pins as you come to them.
If you are using your sewing machine for this step, you could use a decorative stitch.
Serging the bag:

Serge down one unfinished side of the bag, leaving a long tail when you clip the thread when you get to the end of this side. Take out the pins as you come to them, so that, after you finish this side, you can stick your hand inside to make sure you caught both layers of fabric.

Serge down the other unfinished side of the bag, again leaving a long tail when you clip the thread. Again, check inside to make sure you caught both layers of the fabric.
(I was starting so far over because I didn't trim the cloth before I started serging, so I had to move over that much to catch the inside cloth too.)

Because I am a worrier like to make sure these bags are nice and strong, and because I've never been able to find anything that tells me if the serging will unravel if I trim it close, I sew a line straight stitching next to the serging, pinning down the tail from the previous serging as I go.

Turn the corner and sew down the other side.

Now trim the ends close.

Iron your beautiful sewing job bag and straps. (I'm not sure why...something about setting the stitches, I think.)
Pinning the straps

With the bag still inside-out, fold the top over, all the way around, about an inch or so. If you don't want the unprinted edge of the fabric to show inside the bag, fold it over one more time to hide that. Iron it so it will stay down.

Since both ends of the straps will be sewn down, I trim the serging thread close.

Slip the strap under the top fold at an angle....

...and fold it straight up. Pin in place, being careful not to pin through to the other side of the bag.

Pin the other end of the strap the same way. Good luck getting it pinned so that the strap isn't twisted! I may...struggle...with that. Pin the second strap to the other side of the bag in the same manner.
Sewing the straps on
Starting on the opposite side from the side seam, and close to the edge, making sure you aren't sewing the bag shut, start sewing around the top of the bag.

When you get to a strap, sew a square around the edges...

...and an X inside the square. I sew over the sides of the square and the X a couple times since this is what is holding the straps to the bag.

The second part of the X

Get back to the top of the bag, and continue sewing around, making a square and an X on each strap you come to.

When you get back to where you started, sew over your first few stitches and anchor your thread. Cut the thread.

Move over to the bottom edge and sew around the bag. This step is much quicker because you don't have to stop for the straps.

Sew all the way around the bag and anchor your thread again.

A friend who worked as a checker at a store, suggested that I put some sort of tab on the bags so the checker can hang the bags on the bag holder.
Iron your beautiful stitching, turn your bag right-side out, and voila!

A very cute, very sturdy, easily washable, re-usable cloth bag!


twisterfish said...

Amazing. You. The bags. Your tutorial about the bags. ... Amazing.

shin ae said...

I think I'm going to have to make some of these. Must get motivated...