Well you may not know this but I actually own a sewing machine! My grandma got it for me several years ago when I first showed interest in sewing (both of my grandmas are sewing queens!). So I sewed a few things but I never really got into sewing due to lack of time and interest. But recently, after so much time on Pinterest... I decided to bring it out and give sewing another go. The results have been suprisingly good! Disclaimer: when I say good, I mean good for me... Not good when you look at the overall sewing skill scale haha!
So after scowering the internet for a beginner's sewing project, I settled on this simple bag. Well... Seemingly simple. Click here for the original step by step instructions by The Sewing Dork.
Here is how it went for me:
The blog says to use a pillowcase to make the bag, I didn't have a spare pillow case to sew but I used one as a pattern to cut my fabric. I used a denim-ish fabric for the outside and a plain red cotton fabric for the inside. My coordinating fabric for the straps and pocket was yellow with some blue butterflies.
Now I am going to tell you what I did but please pay close attention to the hints! This was a learning experience and hindsite is 20/20 so your bag can turn out even better than mine! :)
So after cutting the shell and liner fabric I began to sew the long edges with right sides together. I then realized that I should have sewn on the pocket to the liner so that the stitching wouldn't show on the outside. Lucky for me I realized this before I sewed shut the short edges! I cut a pretty big square of fabric and hemed all the edges and then situated my fabric on my machine so that only the liner would be sewn to the pocket. It worked pretty well, if I had sewn the pocket to the liner before it was attached to the outside fabric it would have been more centered, but it still serves its purpose as a pocket :)
**Another pocket hint! Make sure that you only sew 3 sides of the pocket. Otherwise it will not be a pocket! And make sure your one open side will end up being up (so when you have the finished bag your bag and pocket opening are facing the same way...up!
Next I turned my fabric right sides out and sewed the top and bottom edges so that the outter fabric would be seen on the inside (this was instead of using the tape, which I do not own). This is when I realized my next error. I should have sewn the straps onto the outer fabric first too. Like the pocket, I didnt want the stitching from the straps to show on the inside of the bag. Alas I had no choice. This problem also affected the positioning of the straps because I did not want to sew my pocket shut at all either. Because of this my straps were not exactly as I wanted and instead of attaching them by sewing on both edges, I had to just sew along the middle of each strap and therefore they do not lay as flat as I wish.
So the moral of the story so far is to sew the accesories onto inner and outer fabrics FIRST before attaching them together as a bag. If you do this, you will have a really nice looking bag!
Back to the straps:
The tutorial gives an approximate length for the straps but I wasn't sure if those would work for me since I was not using an actual pillowcase. The way I determined the length for my straps was to measure the length of the bag (layed flat, it isn't quite a bag at this point, more like a long rectangle with a pocket on one side) and add about 2 feet. This way the bag will go on your shoulder without being right up against your armpit when you carry it :) no one likes an armpit bag! You will need to make TWO straps. One for each half of the bag. They will meet at the bottom of the bag so you dont see the seams.
After you attach the straps, fold the bag right sides together (this was yet another point of error for me... I realized my cutting skills need some improvement, one end of my bag was wider than the other. Oops :/ so basically I had some more fabric on the inside of my bag in the end, not a big deal but I would be more careful to cut evenly next time). With right sides together, sew the two edges, turn and you're done!
Despite my mistakes I am still pleased with my bag because I think it is really cute and it was my first time sewing in a long time. The thing I love about this bag is that you can easily change the pattern to make any size of bag. If you are a more experienced sewer you could even add a zipper to the bag for security.
Well I hope your first attempt is smoother than mine! I look forward to sharing more of my sewing adventures with you!
Happy crafting :)