Sewing and stitching can be hard for some, but they definitely become easy when you practice them a little bit. There are so many tools and ways available by which you can master your sewing and stitching skills.
Also, doing some small projects will help you in learning more about the different parts and functions of a sewing machine along with the fabrics and methods used in them. It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or someone who is professional, doing some small projects will definitely help you in mastering the art. Since there are different things to do with sewing machines, we recommend users start by sewing a bag.
Sewing a bag can be hard and easy at the same time as it depends on the fabrics, techniques, and the design you are working on. If you are a beginner, then you must go with a simple design with a single pocket, while experts can make as per their imagination.
Here in this post, we are going to tell you about how to sew a bag yourself and we have posted a step-by-step guide to do so. Don’t worry if you don’t have any experience in sewing anything before because we have included only basic tools and methods in this tutorial that can be followed by anyone. So don’t waste more time and follow the steps mentioned below to sew a bag yourself.
Things You Will Need To Sew A Bag
First things first. Before sewing a bag or almost anything, you must figure out the things you will actually need in the process. It completely depends on the type of bag you are sewing what type of things you will need. If you are already a professional, then you can pick things out pretty easily without any assistance.
Though if you are new to sewing a bag, then you might need some help. Selecting a design is easy and you can transfer sewing patterns to sturdier paper to use it many times. In this tutorial, we are working with Cotton Fabric With Canvas Straps, so you will need things according to it. Here are all the things that you will need to make a bag like us:
- 1/2 yard pure cotton fabric (for the bag).
- 1/2 yard cotton fabric (for inner lining).
- 1/2 yard heavy fusible interfacing.
- 42-inches canvas strap.
- Scissors or rotary cutter.
- Basic sewing machine.
- High-quality sewing thread.
- Iron (for finishing).
1) Pick The Right Fabric For Your Bag
Fabric is the most important part of any project you do on your sewing machine. Picking up the wrong fabric will not only ruin your project but it can also posses damage to different parts of the sewing machine. Also, read our sewing machine needle guide to know about different types of needles with their usage. This is why we will recommend you to work with pure fabric cotton for your bag as it is very delicate and works pretty fine on all types of sewing machines.
To see if your machine is able to work with the fabric or not, you can simply take out a little piece of the fabric and try making a few stitches on it with the sewing machine. Not only a single layer but try to make stitches on two, even three layers of the same fabric. By doing so, you will get an idea about how good your machine can perform with the fabric you are working with.
2) Cut-Out The Parts Of Fabric
When you have finalized the fabric and design of your bag, its time to cut out different pieces from the fabric to attach them and create the bag. In this tutorial, we are creating a simple one pocket grocery bag, so we will need fabric parts according to it. If you want more pockets, then you will need to cut more parts.
Based on the size of the fabric we have mentioned above in the requirements, you need to cut a 36″ long and 18″ wide cotton fabric for the main compartment.
For the pocket, you will need an 8.5″ or 8 1/2″ wide and 11″ long fabric. If you want 2 pockets, one on either side then cut 2 parts of the same size. If you don’t want any pockets then you can skip this step.
3) Prepare Pockets For The Bag
Before you attach your pockets to the main compartment, you will need to sew its top and bottom part so they don’t get pulled out automatically. If you have taken the same proportion of the fabric which we have mentioned above, then you should sew about 1″ inside to make your pockets stronger.
If you want to precise, then you can take a ruler and use a pencil to create a line at 1″. To make the edges stronger double-fold the edges of the fabric by 1/2″. You can also use the pins to keep them intact while sewing.
Now use the same color thread in your machine (you can use contrast colored thread too) to sew at 1/8″ of your inner folded edge hems. Remember that you need to sew hem only at one end because the other end will be sewed later.
- Also Read About: Sewing Machine Tips and Tricks
4) Attach The Pockets With The Bag
When you are done creating the pockets, it is time to sew them to the bag. Well, this needs to be done before sewing the bag because after sewing the bag it will become a little hard for you to add more parts to it. Before attaching the pocket(s) to your bag make sure they are sewed correctly and they don’t have rough edges.
Now, you need to place your pocket(s) in the middle of the fabric which you are going to use for your bag. To ensure you are placing the pockets in middle, fold down the main fabric which you are going to use for the bag into half. Now you can use the ruler to mark 4″ from both corners of the bag’s fabric. Also, use the ruler to find mid part of the pocket and mark it with a pin.
Place the pocket (marked pin) in the middle of the bag’s fabric. Use some more pins to attach your pocket to the fabric. You must use pins only on the bottom and top part of the pocket. Once done, use a sewing machine to stitch the pocket to your bag’s fabric from both sides. Then, take out the pins and sew the bottom part too and make sure you have sewed each end correctly.
5) Attach The Handles & Sew Them
Its time to attach the webbing to your fabric so they can be the handles of your bag. In our case, we have used a canvas strap but you can also use webbing of other materials too but make sure it is strong and can be easily stitched. You need to fold the strap into half and make sure there are no twists in it. Now attach both of the ends with pins so it creates a loop of the webbing.
You must know about different types of fabrics so you can select the best for your straps. Now, sew the ends of the webbing that you have joined with the pins. We recommend you to sew it at 1″ from the end. Now, lay your fabric out keeping the pocket on the top (if you have only one pocket).
Now, you need to use a ruler to mark 3/4″ on the pockets so the webbing can be sewed on it. Instead of sewing it on the side, we are going to stitch the webbing a little bit on the pocket so everything stays in its place. Place your webbing loop on the top of the fabric making sure that it covers 3/4″ each side of the pocket.
Use the pins to keep webbing in its place and make sure the raw end of the webbing is facing down. Start sewing one strap of the webbing and make sure you are starting from the bottom part of the bag. Keep stitching from bottom to top and then make the turn and keep stitching from top to bottom again on the other side of the webbing strap and make a knot in the end. You need to do the same for the other strap too.
6) Sew The Top and Bottom Parts First
Pockets are done as so does the webbing, so its high time to sew the entire bag and get the work done. To sew the side seams of the bag together, you need to fold the bag inside out. It is important to fold the bag inside out because we don’t want our stitches to appear outside and ruin the look of the bag.
We are not going to make simple stitches on the edges of the bag but it will be a double-stitched seam. You need to fold about 1/2″ from all three sides of the bag (excluding top), if you want then you can use a ruler for the help.
Once done, just start sewing the sides of your bag and make sure the stitches are well placed and tight so they don’t break easily. The first time, stitch each side after disconnecting the thread from the previous side. If you want, then you can also make double stitches on the sides just 1/4″ from the previous thread but this time without stopping or breaking the thread.
7) Don’t Forget To Bind The Side Seams
Binding the side seams is always a good practice as it improves the overall look of the project. In this case, you can use bias tape for a decorative seam finish and read more about how to sew a seam if you are new to it. In this tutorial, we are using a double fold bias tape which is further going to cut into 2 pieces which are 1/2″ shorter than the length of the side seams.
Though it is not necessary but if you want then you can fold one side (bottom part) of the bias tape and fold it inside to give your binding a clean look. Once done, just attach the bias tape on the seam and pin it.
Right from the inner edge, start sewing the bias tape at about 1/8″ and keep removing the pins as you sew through them. Don’t forget to lock your stitches at both ends. Repeat the same steps for attaching bias tape on the other seam.
8) Make A Hem On The Top Part Of The Bag
The double folded hem is the most popular hem for tote bags but if you want then you can also make other types of the hem on your bag. In this tutorial, we are making the folded hem on the top part of the bag. To do this, you need to make a line with a marker or pen at about 2″ down from the top part (making sure the line is on both sides).
Fold the hem double times and pin it to keep the hem in its place. If you have a sewing machine with a free arm, then it will be easier for you the create the hems without catching the other side of the fabric accidentally. Use the free arm function of your sewing machine and start sewing the hem from either side of the side seam. Keep 1/4″ from the bottom of the fold while making the stitches to the hem.
Sometimes you might need to push your fabric a little bit as it is difficult for sewing machines to keep making stitches on the hem without a good dog feed. Also, make sure to lock your stitches at both ends of your hem.
9) Also Sew The Box Corners [Optional]
This step is completely optional as we are doing it just for giving the bag a boxed shape on the bottom. If you are happy with the current design of the bag, then you are good to go with it. You can also create different types of seams based on the fabric you are using. Though if you want to play more with your bag, then create a box shape on the bottom is the best thing you can do at this point. Here is how you can do it.
- Make sure the bag is folded inside out.
- Fold your bag sideways by matching the side seams.
- Create a 90-degree angle point on both corners of your bag.
- Fold one corner and draw a line at 5 1/2″.
- Place some pins on the line to keep a track.
- Start sewing on the line & keep it parallel to the strap.
- Follow the same steps with the other corner.
- Once done, fold your bag right-side out and fold the corners.
- Make sure when the corners are folded inside the bag is creating a box shape on the bottom.
10) Congrats! You’ve Done It
That’s it! You have done it. Right out of a normal fabric you have created a handy little bag for yourself. Well, if you have made all of the stitches correctly, then you can use it for carrying even some pretty heavy stuff like the fabric we have used in it is cotton and it can withstand even some low to medium weight things.
The best thing about sewing something yourself is that you can customize it according to your needs. If you want, then you can add or reduce the number of pockets or you can also play with the straps and cut them into 2 more pieces and getting 4 straps (2 on each side). Re-inventing is the key while sewing and the same goes with sewing a bag.
So this is all about how to sew a bag with a sewing machine and we hope now you know everything about it. This guide was about how to sew a tote bag for beginners and if you are not new to sewing then you can change the fabrics and design with something more complex. You can also add more pockets and lining to the bag to give it a more modern look.
We will post a lot more guides on sewing and stitching along with free bag patterns to sew, so keep visiting Quilted Sewing to read them. If you are facing any issues with the steps mentioned above or you have any questions to ask regarding this tutorial, then feel free to ask us about them via the comments below.