sewing tutorial: lavender project bags

Did you know I sew just a little bit? Yeah, just a little. Anyway, about a week ago, a fellow knitter showed me a project bag someone had made for her. It's small (the perfect size for small projects like socks) and has a round bottom filled with lavender. I couldn't get it out of my head, so over the weekend, I decided to try and make one myself!

It turns out that sewing anything with a circle is rather tricky, so after I finally finished one bag successfully, I made another and took pictures along the way for a tutorial here. Just for kicks, you know.

- about 1/2 yard, or a little less, of two contrasting fabrics, one for the outside and one for the lining; I used plain white muslin for the lining
- matching thread, and a bit of contrasting thread for basting
- 24" of narrow ribbon or other string for the drawstring
- between 1/4 and 1/2 cup dried lavender; I got more than enough for two bags for less than $2 at Whole Foods, but coops and natural food stores should have it as well. I remember finding paper sachets filled with lavender in the laundry section at Trader Joe's once, too.

- scissors
- rotary cutter, mat and ruler (scissors will work, but the rotary cutter makes it easier)
- compass (remember sophomore geometry? I do...barely. But I still have my compass.)
- needle for hand sewing
- sewing machine (not absolutely necessary, but boy it helps!)
- iron
- safety pin for the drawstring

Here we go!

1. Cut a rectangle 19" long x 11" high out of each piece of fabric.

2. With the liner fabric and wrong sides together, match up the short edges and sew together with a 1/2" seam. With the outside fabric and right sides together, match up the short edges and start sewing together with 1/2" seam. About 2" from the top, backstitch for reinforcement, cut the thread, leave about 1/2" gap unsewn, then finish the seam all the way to the bottom. This will be the hold through which you pull your drawstring.

3. Press the seams flat. See the little gap?

4. You now have 2 tubes 11" tall. Place the liner tube inside the main fabric with right sides together. Stitch the two pieces together all the way around the top with a 1/2" seam. Turn right side out and press. Topstitch along the top, about 1/8" from the edge (this isn't totally necessary, but makes things look a little neater). For the drawstring casing, topstitch all the way around from the top of the gap you left in the outside fabric, then again 3/8" below that.

5. Using the compass, trace a circle with a 3.25" radius on a piece of paper for a pattern, then cut a circle out of each of your fabrics. I actually doubled up the lining fabric because what I used was so thin, but you may not find it necessary.

6. Pin the circle cut out of lining fabric to the bottom of the main part of the bag. This is kind of a pain. You may need to manipulate the fabric to make things fit the way you want.

7. By hand, baste the lining circle to the main part of the bag. You will be sewing through all layers, and the raw edges will be on the outside.

8. Sew the seam by machine, then trim.

9. Machine-stitch all the way around the circle cut out of the main fabric 1/2" from the edge. With the iron, press the edges toward the middle, following that line of machine-stitching. Then clip almost all the way down to the stitching.

10. By hand, whipstitch the circle to the bottom of the bag, hiding all the raw edges inside. When you are about 2" from finishing up, spoon the dried lavender into the pouch created, then finish sewing up.

11. Using a small safety pin, pull the narrow ribbon or cord through the casing for the drawstring. Tie a knot to keep the ends from pulling through, and voila!

I gave these bags to my two best knitting buddies yesterday. We got together to bake cookies and drink tea (not a whole lot of knitting going on...), and we had a modest gift exchange as well. It was very cozy. I tell you, it's good to have friends like these!


Amy J said…
Oh thank you for the tutorial. We just got back from a road trip, and this was on my mind...trying to juggle multiple projects w/ the help of the two kiddos :) May even borrow your idea to make these for knitting buddies! ;)

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