In my long hours spent on the internet, I found ‘The Perfect Handmade Bag: Recycle and Reuse to Make 35 Beautiful Totes, Purses, and More’ by Clare Youngs (you can find her book on Amazon or The Book Depository at great prices).
This is what the bag in Clare’s book looks like.
For my version of the bag, I decided to make it a little bit bigger than the original and used cotton canvas fabric that is a bit heavier that the fabric she suggested using.
I’ve made the pattern bigger and made my own lining pattern as I did not want to have pleats on the inside and added 2 little pockets.
I started by adding the pocket to the lining (and used my transfer custom-made label). Then I sewed together both sides of the lining and clipped the corners.
For the main fabric obviously, I have constructed the pleats first and top stitched in the seam allowance to stabilize them and make them easier to work with. Then I sew together both sides and clipped the corners. Once this was completed I added a magnetic snap fastener, as I like to be able to close by bags. Then after applying heavy interfacing on the bands I sewn together the front and the back on one side, but leaving one end open. I did the same with the lining pieces for the band. I then proceeded to add the main body of the bag, both the main fabric and lining, to the band.
I have sewn the handles together – main fabric and lining – right sides together all the way around with a small seam allowance – 5mm – making sure I left a gap of about 5 to 10 cm to turn over. Then I top-stitched it to stabilize it and make it look better. Once the handles were completed I placed them on the bag and sewn them in place by making a box with an X in the middle.
After that I folded in the lining’s seam allowance, pinned and turned it over and did a ‘stitch in the ditch’ to catch the lining. And Voila My bag was ready.
Once I made it once, I knew I’ll make it again. So now I have a couple of them. Well, I had a couple; I’ve given one to my mum for Xmas among other presents.
I am definitely going to make more of these bags, but will make them bigger with longer handles and will probably insert a zipper.
And now time to go back to sewing!