Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rounded-edge Small Bag Tutorial

When I made the Itty Bitty Knitting Bag to hold my fingerless gloves I was working on, it was about the size of the plastic bag I'd been using.  I soon realized it could have been a bit bigger, and I also knew I wanted to remake it to improve that tutorial.  I have quite a bit of scrap fabric left from my "new bag" so I set to work.

This bag was going to be a rectangular bag sitting on its small side, but it just evolved into a much smarter, wider opening, rectangular bag sitting on its long side.  Flying geese can go sideways or up and down, right?

Here's what you will need:
24 2.5" squares
fabric for 4 2.5X4.5" unfinished flying geese, amount dependent upon your method
2 rectangles 2.5X8.5" for end strips (or 8 more 2.5" squares if you prefer)
2 lining pieces 8.5X10.5"
1 rectangle 5.5X7.5" for inside pocket, if desired 
batting scraps
30" length of pre-made (or make your own like I did) piping, corded or flat (mine was flat)
a 12" zipper (so you can apply zipper tabs)

Here's what I did:
For the first side, I made one 16-patch using 2.5" squares, and for the second side, I substituted four flying geese units measuring 2.5X4.5" unfinished.  I like Eleanor Burns' no waste method, but if your scraps are small you can make them with a rectangle and two squares, or even one large triangle and two small ones. Here is a link to a well-written tutorial for the no waste method. There are YouTube videos out there too.

To make the bag a rectangle, add a strip measuring 2.5X8.5" to one end.  You could add 4 more 2.5" squares if you like.  I grabbed a couple of leftover batting pieces, hit them with a little quilt basting spray, and went to town quilting!

And forgot to take a picture...for the 16-patch side, I did Cumulus out of Christina Cameli's new book, Step by Step Free Motion Quilting (terrific book!). For the second side I did some Dot to Dot √† la Angela Walters in the geese, wrote my initials, did a little feathering, and Leafy, a variation of a design I've done for over a decade on a lot of my quilts. I love quilting leaves, as they're so forgiving.  It goes to show, however, that (IMHO) no one "owns" a quilting motif, unless it's McTavishing, or Angela's Dot to Dot or "signature" motif... :-)
Interesting, the colour difference in these two photos. This is in daylight, under my huge window

Trimmed up to 8.5X10.5"; you'll never know the batting is pieced! Do this to both your sides.
And this is under my Ott Lite. This is the true colour!
When Julie of Pink Doxies saw a different colour of yarn in the original Itty Bitty Knitting Bag, she asked if I'd sewn elastic inside to hold tools like scissors. Great idea!  I didn't have any elastic for this bag (but gosh, I might just have to make another bag, and incorporate that splendid idea) but I did have more scraps, so I made a small pocket which worked perfectly to hold the cable needle and large-eyed tapestry needle.

Take your lining fabric that is 5.5X7.5".  Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so you now have a 5.5X 3.25" rectangle.  Stitch around 3 sides, leaving an opening in the edge opposite the fold for turning.  Turn right side out and press.

You could write on the label at this point if you like; I am a HUGE proponent for labelling all quilts!  Centre the pocket on one piece of lining fabric so the top edge of the pocket  is 2" down from the top edge of the lining.  Topstitch around 3 sides (I did this about 1/8" in from the edge.)

I ordered a set of 25 14" multi-colored zippers from Zipit Zipper Supply (awesome prices and service) and she even threw in a zipper pull, how cute!

I found the closest in colour was a lettuce-green pale yellow zipper.  I only needed about 10" length of zipper, but that was not a problem, thanks to zipper tabs! Here, at Pug Mom Quilts, is a great tutorial that I always refer to when I put mine on.

Voilà! Perfect size and no bulk at the ends
You might be thinking, "What was she thinking? That zipper does not go!" But wait...  One side in:

Here you can see Cumulus quilting motif. Fun!
How did I do that?  The zipper is sandwiched between the lining and bag body.  To do this, place your lining right side up. Place zipper on top, aligning edges, right side up (note that the wrong side of the zipper is against the right side of the lining). Now place your bag body fabric right side down on top of the zipper, again aligning edges (note that the right side of the bag body and the right side of the zipper are facing each other).  Sew with a zipper foot 1/4" from the raw edge.

Open up and you should have a unit like that in the above picture.  Repeat this process for the other side of the zipper, and you will have the following:
You can topstitch along the zipper at this point, or you can do this after the bag is assembled
To round the lower edges of this bag, use a circular object that is about 3.5" in diameter. My teacup worked perfectly!

Using the edge of the round object as a guide, draw a curved line.  Trim with scissors.  Repeat for the opposite side of the bag body piece.  You only need to do these two at this point.

To make the flat piping as I did, cut bias strips 1" wide and join them to make a continuous piece that is about 30" in length.  Fold in half and carefully press.  Remember bias edges are very stretchy.  Here's what you will have.  Well, minus the cat maybe!

Yep, she's claiming this as her own new cat mat.  Is that a hint, Bella?!  If you look closely, you can see that 2 edges are rounded, and the ones closest to me are still square.  That is just fine.
Lay the piping with the fold in and the raw edges aligned along the bag body with the rounded corners.  I like to kind of "fade out" the piping at the beginning and end, which in this case, is up by the zipper.  Pin, and sorry Clover clip lovers, but I lo-o-o-ve my Clover pins.  I can (and do) sew slowly right over them, and nothing shifts.  Sew slowly and carefully with a 1/4" seam.

All done:
See how I "fade out" the piping at beginning and end?
Now to finish up this puppy!  Wait! Hold the phone!  I have realized I meant to put a small carrying strap on one end of the bag....guess there will be yet another bag!  So at this point you could cut a strap approximately 6.5" long by 2.5" wide.  Fold it in half, wrong sides together, so the long edges align. Press.  Open out and now fold the raw edges to that fold. Press; fold once again, encasing the raw edges and press. Topstitch along both edges. Your strap is now 6.5" long by about 5/8" wide.  Fold it in half with raw edges together and place the raw edges about 2" down from the zipper on one side edge of the bag body. The strap is completely on top of the bag body and all raw edges are aligned. Pin, being careful to ONLY pin to the bag body and have the lining fabric completely out of the way.  Baste in place.

Now we can assemble this bag!  Very important!  Open the zipper about half way or more.  Place the two bag body pieces right sides together, and the two lining pieces right sides together. Pin.  You will not see the strap if you applied one, nor will you see the piping.

Hmm! The Cumulus quilting shows up better here!
Sew with the stitching of the piping side face up so you can use it as a guide.  Sew 1/4" seam.  One side of the bag body is still square.  That is okay; we will use the rounded edge to trim afterwards.

When you get to the zipper tabs, push the bulk towards the lining.  I have struggled with what to do with this area and I think I have it figured out!
Be sure to leave an opening about 5-6" long in the bottom edge of the lining fabric for turning right side out.  I like to put a different colour, larger pin there to remind me to stop sewing!  Backstitch at beginning and end of this seam.  Before you turn it, use the previously rounded edges to trim the last two edges you left square.  Because the seam is only 1/4", I found there was no need to clip the curves.

Reach in, through the opening left by the open zipper (you remembered to do that, right?!) and grab the bag body, and pull it carefully through the opening in the lining.  Smooth everything out, turn the edges of the opening in the lining in 1/4" and topstitch or hand-stitch them closed.  Push the lining back into the bag body.  Topstitch the zipper edge at this point if you didn't before.  Sometimes I think you get a better finish on the zipper tab ends if you do it at this point.  Will get back to you on that...but of course there's another bag, or ten, in my future...

This is really a handy sized bag!
Here is how it compares to my Itty Bitty bag:
Side one...
Side two!
Too much fun.  So quick to stitch up.  And I love that pop of black that the piping adds.
I used a Gutermann sparkly thread in the bobbin on the Itty Bitty Bag.  I took  a full sunlight photo to try to catch the shimmer of this thread,
but it doesn't do it justice.  Ah well, take my word for it; it is really pretty!  And, since I forgot to attach a strap, I think there is yet another version of this bag in my future.  Like shoes, a girl can never have enough bags.

I'm linking this up with Pink Doxies Pet Project #14, and Oh Scrap! See the buttons on the side bar.

Update! This post was a featured tutorial on Totally Tutorials April 19, 2014!  Eeek!


  1. This is a great little pouch! I love your fabric choices!

  2. Thank you for this tutorial! I always forget the steps for a lined bag and never used one with piping :D

  3. Cute piping! And thanks for the tutorial. I'm sure I would have tried to sew the piping all the way around like binding. Now I really need a zipper stash. You are totally right. You can't have too many bags, especially handmade.

  4. Great tutorial, Sandra :) Your fabric choices are awesome and the added piping really does make it pop!

    How nice of Bella to 'iron' your project for you!! :)

  5. Even as a non-quilter (nooo, gasp), I can see the amount of incredible thought, vision, planning, effort, and actual work really goes into any project!
    This is such a beautiful bag. The colour is so beautiful, the style is great, the sewing/quilting gorgeous. Good for you!

  6. LOL - you could have used Bella to draw around for your curvy corners! Wonderful Tutorial Sandra and a terrific, very useful bag! Love the FMQ you added and the fabrics with the flying geese - just great!
    Isn't it funny how exciting a whole bunch of zippers in a rainbow of different colors can be? They practically set off a binge of bag making all by themselves.

  7. Great tutorial!
    I will bookmark it.
    Love the bright green fabrics and the geese!
    esthersipatchandquilt at yahoo dot com

  8. Another great bag tutorial Sandra! Thanks for sharing this with Oh Scrap!

  9. Great tutorial and your quilting is beautiful! Loved seeing the Cumulus design in your hand. : )

  10. The cat just cracks me up post after post.


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