Tag Archives: bag

Rainbow Dragon

Since Lockdown 1.0, I haven’t done much sewing – the majority of things I made were face masks for friends and family. I wanted to sew something as a Christmas present for K, but what do you make a young boy who loves dragons? A dragon backpack of course!

I’ve made plush toys before, but this would be the first backpack I’ve ever attempted…. I like to make things challenging!

My original plan was to use some glow in the dark fabric paint on the eyes to add an extra fun little detail. However, the glow paint I’d purchased online was a ‘lucky dip’ when it came to colour, and I ended up with pink – perfectly fine, but I didn’t really want this dragon to have pink glowing eyes! So I stuck with the pattern’s recommendation and appliqued the felt eye pieces onto the face.

This fleece fabric is surprisingly slippy – it behaves almost like a fake fur rather than fleece when you’re sewing. As a result, the zip on the main pocket isn’t the neatest of stitching.

I had a Union Jack patterned fat quarter lying around, which worked perfectly for the pocket lining. I didn’t want anything too dark, as it would make it quite challenging to find something in the bag otherwise.

After a while of fighting the fabric, I tried an alternative technique – placing a layer of calico fabric against the feed dogs when sewing. That worked like a dream, allowing the fabric to feed through evenly, and no more squished stitches!

Because the dragon needed to be stuffed and the fabric had a slight stretch, I wanted to make sure the seams would allow some stretching, so I trimmed down the calico to as small a piece as possible. Ideally I would’ve used a tear-off fabric stabiliser or even tracing paper, as both of those could be fully removed after sewing. But as usual, I didn’t have either to hand, and I really needed to get this dragon finished!

As an optional extra in the pattern, there’s a hidden pocket in the dragon’s tail. I thought this would be a neat addition (which I didn’t point out when I gave K his present – I wanted him to discover it for himself), so not only is this my first backpack make, it’s also my first attempt at sewing in an invisible zip (albeit without an invisible zipper foot)!

My only other slight mishap was when I stitched the strap to the wrong side of the dragon’s paw (oops!) and had some well-nigh impossible unpicking to do to resolve it. But thankfully you couldn’t see the mistake once I’d finished.

And I can safely say that K loves his new backpack – after he’d opened it, he put the bag on his back and ran round the room shouting “I’ve got wings”!

Pattern: Dragon Backpack by Choly Knight
Fabric: Rainbow Fleece from MIBS

Magic Softshell Bag II

Remember the Magic Softshell Bag I shared last month? Well I’ve finally got it finished – and it turned out exactly as I’d hoped!

I haven’t added in poppers on the front pocket flap, but so far it looks like the combination of softshell, polycotton and a piece of clear pvc (for extra waterproofing) is doing a good job at holding that flap down.

I could have added in some extra pvc to the back of the front panel where the pockets are, just to make sure nothing can soak through. However, I’m hoping that the softshell will be waterproof enough without that.

Because most of my winter walks result in me walking back home in the dark, I added a couple of reflective strips to the strap. They aren’t so large that they stand out in daylight and look weird, but hopefully it’ll be an added ‘safety feature’ for those dark walks. I’ve never tried using this reflective tape before, and I was struggling to get it to sew evenly so I fused some Heat ‘n’ Bond (the non-sew variety) to the back, and just ironed it into place.

The pockets were originally going to be softshell with a polycotton lining, but I decided it looked better if I used the polycotton for the outer, and the softshell as the lining. The bit of red softshell that’s visible at the top of the pocket, makes the pocket easy to find (otherwise it’d just blend in with the lining a little too much).

Hopefully if I get caught out in torrential rain again, this bag will actually keep the contents dry, and not absorb any of the water!

Pattern: Messenger Bag by Crazy Little Projects
Fabric: Magic Softshell from Mibs Fabrics

Magic Softshell Bag – take two

I started a Magic Softshell messenger bag earlier in the year, almost finished it, then realised the dimensions I’d used for the pocket weren’t quite right. After some (unwise) unpicking, where I ended up making a small hole in the lining, I shelved the bag in the depths of my UFO pile.

Then I made the mistake of going for a 3 mile walk in torrential rain…. which came through the waterproof bag I had taken with me. So I realised I was going to have to make a replacement waterproof bag before the winter, as being England it’s likely to be quite wet!

Luckily I had enough of the Magic Softshell left over to cut a fresh bag, and armed with some patterned polycotton which I had left over from a previous project, I set to work cutting out a fresh bag, using current favourite bag pattern from Crazy Little Projects.

It’s not the easiest thing to get a photo of (the original softshell colour I was after, didn’t get enough interest to make the preorder, so this one was my second choice), but when the fabric is wet, the pattern of clouds and stars appears.

I’m sticking with my previous ‘hack’ of the pattern, to include a patch pocket with flap on the front flap, rather than messing with a zipped pocket. This actually makes it a lot easier to open, and there’s less things that can go wrong (like the zipper pull coming off when I try using the pocket!).

All the seams are sewn with a triple straight stretch stitch for strength, and I also zigzagged the curved corners just for ease of mind if I put anything heavy into the bag. The main seam stitches should be fine without that, but I like to be certain.

Just the lining to sew, then I can start putting it all together!

Pattern: Messenger Bag by Crazy Little Projects
Fabric: Magic Softshell from Mibs Fabrics

Showerproof “Quilted” Bag

I’ve had enough of soggy bags when I’ve been out for a walk in the rain, so I thought it was time I tried sewing one in a showerproof fabric. I spotted this laminated cotton with a nifty quilted picture printed on it at Mibs Fabrics, and thought it’d be ideal. I picked out an airtex mesh for the lining, and because that obviously has holes in it, added in a sew-in interfacing just to strengthen the lining a little.

The mesh was an experience to sew, having never used anything like that before! I found that backing it with interfacing also helped my eyes, as being able to see the dark table through the holes in the fabric was starting to get challenging.

Originally I was going to add a zipped pocket to the front flap, but I made a mess of the sewing on that, and had to improvise. Thankfully I had just enough fabric left to cut a (slightly short) replacement panel, and salvaged some of my mistake piece to make a basic patch pocket with a flap closure instead.

I think the flap works better for a bag that’s likely to get caught out in the rain though, as in theory the rain should just run off the flap, and not end up in the pocket itself!

I didn’t bind my seams with any waterproof tape, so I know the bag won’t be 100% waterproof, but I’m hoping it’ll be a great deal better than my usual bags bade from canvas!

Pattern:  Crazy Little Projects
Fabric: Laminated Cotton and Airtex Mesh  from Mibs Fabrics

Fabric: Laminated Cotton and Airtex Mesh  from Mibs Fabrics

Beachy Sunday My Way

Something a little different today, and my latest Sunday “My Way” bag! I wanted to try out my sewing machine’s decorative stitches, and what better way than on the top stitching for the pockets?

I added in a clear popper to both pockets just to help keep it closed, while hopefully not detracting from the stitching. 

I struggled with the curved edges this time – the lining ended up caught up in places, and even gets caught in the zip! I think that was down to inaccurate cutting in the first place…. maybe the lining is a bit bigger than the bag itself? 

I had added in some extra height to the bag, so I can fit a water bottle in it – I forgot to change the markings to enable me to match the front and side pieces together, which would’ve helped tremendously if I’d remembered those!

It’s still a usable bag (as long as I’m careful with the zip) though, and that’s what matters.

Pattern: Sunday “My Way” bag
Fabric: Fashion Fabrics

Sunday My Way bag

The last couple of messenger bags I’ve made haven’t quite gone to plan – either the lining hasn’t co-operated as I’d hoped, or the pockets aren’t quite the right size. Either way, I decided it was time to try making a different bag completely. So, I thought I’d use some of the polka dot canvas I had in a remnant pack from Abakhan, and some burgundy polycotton I had left over from the previous messenger bag, to make the Sunday My Way bag.


It’s a completely different style to the others I’ve tried making, with a slip pocket on the front, a long zip with tabs on either end, and straps that look like they go all the way around the bag, but don’t actually cross the bottom piece.


If I made another one of these, I would probably change a couple of the methods – topstitching the strap over the existing topstitching was almost impossible to get it accurate. For my own bag, that’s not something I’m too concerned about, but if I was making one for someone else then I’d want it to look neater than that!


The lining is inserted in a different way to any other bag I’ve made before, attaching it to the seams of the main bag body. That went reasonably well (other than the lining already being puckered where I couldn’t get the seams to lie totally flat), but sewing the lining to the zip seam was a real challenge. Again, you have to top stitch over the existing stitch lines…. as I did that, the lining shifted slightly so some of my stitching didn’t catch the lining at all. In the end, I hand stitched the lining to the zip, which gave it a neater look.


I didn’t add any interior pockets to this one – I decided it’d be a useful shopping bag to hold any purchases, rather than needing pockets for a phone and a wallet!

My first attempt at “Design Your Own Handbag”

Having had enough of the problems with the other messenger bags I’ve tried making, I decided to “invest” in a Craftsy Course called Design Your Own Handbag. Promising to tell me how to make several different pockets styles and zipped closures, I felt it was worth the money as it should prove useful for many different bags.

I will admit I didn’t find this course as easy to follow as the Fleece Sewing one I’ve started – yes there’s a lot of information, but as the bag design is up to each individual, there’s a lot of things that I feel could be explained a bit better.

Lining the outer pocket up was a bit hit and miss – mainly miss, as I had to unpick the entire thing and resew it. The inclusion of an interlining (I used some thick cotton I found in a local fabric shop) meant that it was a bit too thick to get my hand sewing needle through to tack everything, so I had to make do with pins…. which wasn’t ideal.

However, the second time around, I did get the pocket to line up – and the button I’d already machine stitched onto the pocket, also lined up with the buttonhole!


Just to prove the button does do up….


Adding the back zipped pocket was also a challenge – after stitching and unpicking it, I decided to make it more like a welt pocket, so you couldn’t see the zip tape. That gave a nicer finish, although if I made another, I would also add an extra inch to the width of the pocket pieces – that would enable me to sew it neatly around, without the risk of catching the zip tape on the sides.

The rest of the bag outer was pretty self explanatory – much like the Good to Go messenger bag, you cut the corners from the main pieces in order to get the depth of the bag. My canvas was a bit too fray-happy at times, resulting in some extra stitches being necessary, so I did zigzag the edges of some pieces just to be on the safe side.

Due to the fraying, I had to ignore where it’s said to trim the edges really close to the stitching, but while that made some of the seams a little more bulky, it didn’t really change the look of the finished bag.

I added a couple of patch pockets to the inside, like I did on the previous bags, but other than that, the lining pieces were just the basic pattern ones.


I decided to add some tabs on the sides to hold a strap, rather than adding a tab to the front and back – I prefer a cross-body strap. Top stitching the strap was done with a decorative stitch, just to make it look a little different to the regular boring straight stitch. The tabs and strap were made almost identically to my London Tourist bag.

Now we come to the main reason for me wanting to take this Craftsy course – the top zip. None of the other bags I’ve made have had a closure to the main body, so this was an important thing for me to want to learn. After all, even if you have a flapped messenger bag, a strong wind can make the flap flip up, so it’s nice to have a secure way of closing it.


I struggled to get the top piece to line up to the zip – it’s the first time I’ve used an open (separating) zip, so I didn’t realise the metal at the end took up so much space. Partly because of the fraying canvas, and partly due to not cutting a little extra on the flaps, I didn’t have space to turn the flap pieces right-side-out and keep the metal part of the zip on the outside. So that side had to be zigzagged together – not an ideal finish.

However, using some double-sided fusible tape to ‘baste’ the zip in place seemed to work really well for that – much better than the back zip pocket (too many layers for the heat fro the iron to go through). And the zip is perfectly usable and relatively neatly stitched as well!

Rather than leaving a hole in the base of the lining to turn it all right-side-out (I really like my lining to be strong, and I didn’t feel that a hand sewn seam would have the strength I was after, I left a gap at the top, where the facing and outer join – that was able to be closed with the final top stitching, so you wouldn’t know there’d been a gap there 🙂


The only other thing I wish the course had pointed out, was that the angle of the top zip means that it needs to be pushed down into the bag to run smoothly – this means you can’t put anything in the bag that would be 1″ or less from the zipper flaps…. which means my entire bag really could’ve done with being an extra inch tall to compensate *sigh*

I would try making another bag from this course, mainly because now I know the ‘quirks’ of the methods, I should be able to rework it and make a bag with the [erfect (or near enough) dimensions!

Polka dot fabric from Abakhan (part of a ‘canvas remnant pack’), polycotton lining, cotton interlining and and accessories from a couple of local shops.

It’s Christmas! ….well, almost

Ok, so it’s not quite Christmas yet, but I’ve been busy sewing gifts for people. Some of those people have already opened their presents, but others have been good and resisted the temptation….

I think this has to be the best fat quarter bag I’ve sewn yet! The sides came out really evenly, and the topstitching works brilliantly in red as a contrast to the green main fabric.


The tree ornament was made from felt, with some white ricrac for the icing on the arms and leg, two red buttons for the candy, and some white felt for the eyes. It’s the neatest hand sewing I’ve ever done on the mouth, and the whole thing is sewn around the outside, so there’s no turning involved!


I ended up making a few of the gingerbread men – a couple for presents, and also one for my tree. They just looked too good to just make one 🙂

London Tourist Bag

I thought it was time I made myself another messenger bag, and I’m sure that Amber read my mind, as she posted a tutorial for a messenger bag with a zipped pocket.


I wanted the fabric to be different to my previous bag, and this London map fabric stood out in the shop. The lining is a red polycotton, with some blue polycotton and piping around the edge of the flap.

I deviated from the pattern, and added a lining to the front flap pocket, so it doesn’t have any visible raw edges (and fraying ends). The red works brilliantly in there as well, and the pocket edges are just caught into the flap seams, so the pocket is full sized.


Because a map is obviously directional fabric, I did have to add a seam at the top so that the back and flap could both be the right way up. It was worth the extra figuring out though, as if the map was upside-down, it just wouldn’t have looked right!


I think if I make another one like this though, I would probably change the front zip pocket slightly, and not have the zip reaching the end seams. That would give it a neater finish, and would also lose some of the bulk in the seams at that point.

A Lush little bag….

When I go shopping for some bath products, I don’t want to just have them in my main bag – they’d make everything smell! I love the look of the new Butter Bear Canvas Bag from Lush but at £9.95, I decided that I was better off making a bag of my own – then I can almost guarantee nobody will have one quite like mine!

So, using some of the Jungle Book fabric I used for the messenger bag, and also some of the same cotton for the lining, I made up a Fat Quarter Bag using Amy’s pattern. I did change the dimensions a little, to work around the fabric pattern, and I also added in a French seam on the base (otherwise the back would be upside-down!


Once I added in the gusset in the base, the bag ended up a perfect size to carry a pot of Dream Cream, one bubble bar and two Butterbears!


And the best thing about it? It didn’t cost much for the fabric, as it uses just over a fat eighth of each, and it’s completely washable just in case anything spills in it!