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I’ve been waiting until after Christmas to post about this because my sister sometimes read this blog and it was her Christmas present that I wanted to share on here. But now the bag is finished and she is using it and loving it!

I decided I would sew a new bag for my sister because the awesome one she bought in Amsterdam was showing a lot of wear and tear and I really wanted to make at least one hand made from scratch item for someone this Christmas. When she visited me in November, I peeked at the construction of her bag/purse. I thought to myself “Yup, I can make that.”

Then, I visited the lovely Joann fabrics (with all the cranky ladies at the cutting table) and spent a good hour debating about several patterned fabrics. I literally sat on the floor in one of the aisles and spread all the fabric out, pairing it up with the solid blue canvas I chose for the bag. I finally had to call my sister and ask her which color combinations she preferred. Bright blue and mustard yellow. No flowers. heh.

For a good three weeks I visualized how to put the bag together. Like all modern day crafty researches, I went to good ol’ pinterest and checked out a bunch on there. I found one (and will post the link later as I can not locate it as I currently write). Then, once I understood how I should cut the fabric pieces and put them together, I went to work. As I teach high school English and coach Forensics, my weekends are my ONLY time to accomplish anything not school-related because I’m exhausted after each school day. Therefore, total, I worked for 3 weekends in a row for a couple hours each day (maybe 2 – 4 hrs?).

Here are some construction photos:

Below, you can see that I made a pattern out of muslin first. (Ignore the terrible cutting job….I squared/evened out my fabric when I cut it on the actual fabric). I did not have a pattern, so I estimated the size based on my body/hip size because my sister and I are about the same size. The front is a bit more square and the back is more of a rectangle.

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And the back. The edge is folded over because after I cut the muslin, I realized it was too long.

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Next, I cut three rectangular pieces for the two sides and one bottom. You can see the approximate sizing on the cutting board.

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The strap was soooo long, I could not fit it all in the picture. But it measures 4″x52″.

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Then I sewed all the rectangles together. Just to play it safe, I labeled all of my pieces before sewing them together because I was worried they would get mixed up and moved around on my table and then I did not want to get angry.

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I lined it with navy blue linen. The lining is made the same way. However, I did not flip the lining inside out, like I did the bag; I put the wrong side of the lining touching the wrong side of the bag. This was the fussiest part of the whole process. I wanted the seams/corners to meet up. Be careful that the lining is not cut larger than the bag itself. If that happens, just make a simple box pleat. It adds an interesting decorative touch.

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I tend to go overboard with pins at first so I have a solid sense of this is how it will be when it is sewn and then I end up removing most later on. I folded down the edge of the “bag” fabric first (pinned it in place) and then I folded back the lining fabric (linen). The sewing on this did not have to be super perfect because it would eventually be covered and reinforced with the outer decorative patterned fabric. Sew the lining around the flap (at top of pic) and on the front only. The sides need to be left open so the strap can be inserted on either side.

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This is a view of the inside of the bag with the lining inserted. I added a pocket along the “back” wall of the bag (back of the bag is the side that rests against the body). I had hand dyed wool squares so I pinned them to the lining, sewed down and around each side before I put the lining into the bag.

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This is the strap. I lined it the same way I lined the top flap. Fold in both edges of the “outside” fabric.

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Then, fold back the lining fabric and pin it on top of the outside fabric. I found that when the husband does not want to assist in the craft/sewing room that painters tape holds down fabric quite well so you can tug/pull on it and it won’t slide all over the work table.

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Entire strap fully lined. Quite spiky!!!! Watch out!

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Then the decorative patterned fabric is added to the top flap. I wanted the top flap to be quite sturdy so I allowed for more fabric on the outer edge which was then folded over so it reinforced that edge that would constantly be lifted when you access the bag. (It was at this point in the sewing process (close to Christmas break) that I stopped taking pictures because I had to keep going with minimal interruptions. I apologize). But once I measured the patterned fabric, I flipped over the bag and laid the patterned fabric right side to the right side of the back of the bag. I then measured and marked where I wanted the patterned fabric to be connected to the bag on the back. I pinned it and sewed it in place. Once that was attached, I very carefully folded in my fabric. I think I also changed my mind about sewing the lining flap to the bag flap because I did not want it to be too bulky.

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Because I wanted the edges to be neatly bound and finished, I folded over the patterned fabric once, and then again.

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Lastly, because my machine was not so great at fitting a thicker amount of fabric under the foot, I decided to hand sew it. I’m kind of obsessed with hand sewing as it is. I used my linen thread left over from my reenacting sewing supplies. Linen thread is great because it’s not smooth and it really grips the fabric and holds everything together.

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Here is the completely finished bag!!!! I really love it. I added buttons for a decorative touch. You can also kind of see in this picture how the strap is put into the sides between the lining and the outer fabric. I sewed around the strap edge in a square shape and then made a “Z” shape. It’s sturdy.

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This was quite a simple sew. I want to make more now with new colors!! My sister adored the bag and her friends have also complimented her on it which makes me feel great!!

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