Friday, October 11, 2013

Remake of a Canvas Bag

Years ago I acquired an off white canvas bag, the size and shape perfect for shopping or hauling sewing project around.

It became one of my go-to bags when I grocery shop here in France.

As you might know, in France, as with much of Europe, when you buy groceries you either bring your own bag to carry home your purchases or you have to buy one.

I am frugal and I HATE buying bags.  I know, they are not expensive, but it seems such a waste of money to me when I have perfectly good canvas bags I can use.

The quilt shelf - At the club in Luxembourg our quilt group has a set of shelves for storing everything from sewing machines to fabric. Every once in a while I get a note from someone at the club saying I need to tidy up my space because there are bags on the floor.

When this happens, I know someone has donated fabric to the club. and normally it is left in bags on the floor in front of our shelves. The donations are always welcome and many times the fabric donated is not quilting cotton. Donated fabrics have included polyester, silk, heavy cottons, corduroy and linen.  Someone donated yards and yards of Christmas fabric! What do you do with this? When I receive a donation, I go through it. If it is not something we can use for quilting it goes in a special stack. Anything really not usable is thrown away. My non-quilting cotton is now one of our full bins. Maybe it is just me, but it is difficult to make a Quilt of Valor out of Santa fabric. 

This last week some of the group started to make bags out of this non quilting fabric. We plan to sell them to raise money to buy backing fabrics for our quilts. Thinking of bags made me think of that canvas go-to bag. It is easy to trace off the pattern, so trace it I did. So follow along as this bag is made and maybe you can make one for yourself.
The bag is unlined and made out of canvas or similar weigh fabric.
1 - 30"x 19 1/2" Rectangle for the body of the bag
2 - 26" x 4 1/2" rectangles for the handles.
Optional pocket cut 1 or 2 - 8 1/4" x 7"
The 30" of the bag make up the depth of the bag and the 19 1/2" make up the width.
If adding a pocket do that first. There is 1  1/4" allowance for the top hem of the pocket and 1/2" allowance on the other 3 sides. After hemming the top of the pocket and ironing the 1/2" allowances to the wrong side, pocket placement is a centered 4" below the 19 1/2" edge.

Before you top stitch the pocket in place, pull out your edge stitch foot. For Bernina users this is the #10 foot. Due to the fabric weight, set your stitch width longer than normal, a setting of 3 is good. Move the needle position  so that your top stitch will be 1/8" from the edge when the center blade of the foot is snugs up against the edge of the pocket.
Top stitch the pocket in place. I hate getting those knots at the edge when I begin sewing, to get around having that happen, Don't never start at the edge, instead, go down 1/2" or so. Back stitch to the edge and then straight stitch forward. Most of the time it fixes the nesting problem on the back side of the fabric. The edge stitch foot makes you look like an expert. Getting a straight line along the edge is effortless!
Handles:. Press the 26" by 4 1/2" strips in half, wrong sides together and then press each side in half again wrong sides together to get the 4 layered handle. Doing it this way is so much easier than trying to make a tube. Not to mention that a tube would not be as strong as 4 layers.
If you are worried about bulk, we will take care of that later.

Using the edge stitching foot sew both lengths of the  handle about 1/8" from the edge. Do not back stitch.

Top hem: The top edge hem allowance is 1  1/4".  To get a crisp straight edge, use a technique taught by Louise Cutting .
Cut a piece of cardboard into a strip. with a pencil draw a straight line 1/4" away from the edge of the cardboard.  Go to the ironing board and iron the edge of the fabric over the cardboard to the 1/4" line.
Repeat, this time the line is 1" from the edge.
To make a clean looking hem, use 1/4" wide Steam-a-Seam to hold everything together as you sew. Steam-a-Seam works much better than pins and there is no shifting.

Iron the 1/4" strip to the 1/4" seam that was folded over and ironed. Remove the paper, fold the hem  and iron into place. Top stitch from the wrong side.
Ok, handles done, pocket(s) sewn on and top hem of bag completed.
Sew the side seams: Fold the 30" length in half and sew the two side seams. 1/2" is allowed and to make it neat and tidy use a French seam to enclose the raw edges. That said, a serged or zigzagged edge would work just as well. Since the bag has a square bottom,

The bag was squared off by pinning the bottom center to the side seam. Draw a line making a triangle 2" from the pointy edge. Sewing from one end of the triangle to the other along the drawn line. Excess triangle can be trimmed or left. Some say leaving the triangle intact keeps the bag stronger. Turn the bag right side out.
Take the bag to the ironing board and iron a crease 2" from the center. The crease should intersect the edge of the sewn triangle. If not measure what that measurement is and use that for this step. Repeat this ironing step for the remaining 3 sides.
What gives this bag a unique feel are the corners. once pressed they are top stitched using, you got it, the edge stitching foot. 

Edge stitch down one crease, 1/8" from the edge, across the bottom, and then back up the other side. the corner pivot is really easy with the edge stitching foot.

Stop 1/8" from the edge.

Turn the fabric (pivot) making sure everything that should not be sewn is out from under the foot and continue sewing to the next corner. Repeat the pivot stitching back up to the top of the bag. Back stitch at the beginning and the end.
Repeat for the other side of the bag.

Straps: A 1/2" seam allowance is added to the length of the strap on each side. Bulk could be a problem. To reduce it, from the side that will not show, cut out the layers of fabric away stopping 1/2" from the edge. on both ends of the strap. All that will be left is the fold on both ends.  See picture. Fold the cut end  up and place it against the back hem of the bag.
The handles to the bag are attached 4 1/2" from the center

The handles to the bag are attached 4 1/2" from the center.
I suppose you noticed I have embroidery on this bag? Here it is completed:

Credits where credits are due.
Embroidery machine - Bernina 180
Bag sewn with a - Bernina 215B
Embroidery design - Urban Threads Painted Leaves I love the sheer stitched designs!
Embroidery Thread - Sulky rayon 30 wt
Stabilizer - Sulky Tear-Away and Solvy (lightest weight water Soluble)
Fabric - Donated by someone to the Quilting group in Luxembourg



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