Fat Quarter Project ~ Project Bag Tutorial

on May 1 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 19 Comments

Heather from quilt.cook.keep. designed this little Project Bag to help you take your knitting, paper piecing, embroidery or more on the go! We think the sweet design would be perfect for Mother’s Day gifts too. Learn about Heather in her introduction, and be sure to visit quilt.cook.keep. for more about Heather’s sewing, volunteer work, adventures with the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild and more!

Don’t forget: It’s time to vote in Round 2! Pick your favorite Meet Me at the Picnic fat quarter packs.

Hi, all! I’m Heather and I blog at quilt.cook.keep. I was thrilled when Sew,Mama,Sew! contacted me about doing a tutorial for my project bag! I mainly consider myself a quilter, but will frequently cross crafty lines and dabble in other creative ventures. A few months ago, some kind ladies attempted to teach me to knit. Before I even got started with yarn and needles, I knew I had to make a knitting bag! Are you like me and micro-manage your life with tote bags? (You know: One for the library, one for the beach, one for knitting, one for book club… You get the idea.) This is the bag I came up with; it’s perfect for a small knitting project, embroidery, English paper piecing– You name it.

Are ready to make one?

You’ll need:

  • 2 fat quarters: one for the exterior, one for the lining
  • Medium weight interfacing, approximately 2/3 yard, 20” wide (I used Pellon 808 craft fuse)
  • 2 yards cording (I used 3/16 “ diameter ~ whatever will fit through your bead)
  • 1” wooden bead
  • Plus all the usual suspects…

First, we’ll cut the fabric. I’m going to show you two ways: a template way and a non template way. This way, you can cut either horizontally or vertically and take advantage of stripes, patterns, etc.

To make the template, get a sheet of copier paper, 8 ½ x 11 “. Trim 1 inch off the side, so you’re left with 7 ½ x 11”. With your ruler, make a pencil mark at 3 ¾, in the center of the bottom edge. Then, make a pencil mark 3 ¾” up on the left and then again on the right side of the paper. Draw a line from the marked points on the sides to the bottom center mark. Cut off these two triangles and your template will look like this:

Below, I’ve shown how the templates get layed out on the fabric, with a horizontal orientation– Meaning the 22” runs horizontally, 18” vertically. (I’ve actually cut four templates just to give you and idea how you’re going to space them out.) When cutting this way, lay your acrylic ruler over the paper template, and use your rotary cutter to cut your fabric. Cut 4 pieces each from your exterior and lining fabrics.

To cut without a template, lay your exterior fabric out vertically. Cut two strips 7 ½” wide by the length of the fabric (which, ideally, is 22”). Cut each of these in half, so you have four pieces 7 ½ x 11. If you find you’re running into the selvage, no big deal; just cut the pieces slightly shorter, maybe 7 ½ x 10 ½. It won’t affect assembly at all! Stack your four rectangles, keeping all your edges even. On the wrong side of your top fabric, make a small pencil mark in the center bottom edge again (just like above) at the 3 ¾” mark, and again on each side at 3 ¾ “ mark. Use your ruler to connect the marks, and your rotary cutter to cut out each triangle. Repeat for your lining.

To cut the interfacing, we’re going to cut as above, except we’re going to make the interfacing pieces slightly smaller. Start with four pieces of interfacing, 7 x 10 ½“ (or, basically ½“ smaller on each side). Make a pencil mark at 3 ½” in the center and both sides, then cut out triangles as above. When you’re finished cutting, you’ll have this:

Next, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the exterior panels, using manufacturer’s directions. When you lay the interfacing on the fabric, offset the tips by about ¼ inch. The top edge of your fabric and interfacing should align, more or less. This way, the interfacing stays out of the seam allowances, and later will make a crisper edge on the bag when pressed. Fuse interfacing to all four exterior pieces.

All right! All the hard work is done. Now it’s time to sew. Use ¼” seam allowance through out. (Tip: When I sew the exterior, I use a scant ¼” seam. When I sew the interior, I use a generous ¼“. That way, the lining is nice and snug inside!)

Take two exterior panels and place right sides together. Sew from the bottom corner to the bottom tip of the bag. Repeat for the remaining two exterior panels. Your pieces should look like this:

Press your seams to one side. Lay two exterior pieces right sides together. Stitch pieces together along bottom edge. When you open up your piece, it should look like this:

Press seam (open or to the side, I don’t care!)

Now, we’ll sew up the side seams. Sewing from the bottom corner to the top of your bag, right sides together, sew up each of the four side seams. You now have a nice box! Turn the box so that right side of your fabric is facing out, and give this gal a nice pressing all over. Fold at the side and bottoms seams and give it a nice pressing to get it all crisp.

Sew your lining fabric as above. On one of the side seams, leave yourself a 3” opening so you can turn everything inside out. (I take a little backstitch on either side of the opening.) Press.

Now, we’re going to tack down our cording. Cut your cording into 2 one yard lengths. Before cutting your pieces, put a piece of cellophane tape on the cord first, and cut through the tape to prevent raveling. On the exterior of your bag measure over 3.5” from the side seam of the bag and place a pin at the top of the bag (this should be in the center of the side panel). Repeat for all four sides.

At your sewing machine, lay your cording where you pinned– with the taped top extending just beyond the top exterior edge of the bag– and the remainder of the cording toward the bottom of the bag. Tack the cording to the exterior of the bag, about 1/8 “ away from the top edge. I sew back and forth over the cording 2-3 times to secure it. Take the other end of this piece of cording, run it underneath the outside of your bag, and up to the opposite side of the bag, and tack the cording down as above. With your second piece of cording, tack to one of the two remaining sides, run it under the bag, and then tack the other side. Leave the loose cording under the bag for now.

Still with me? Almost done!

Take your exterior bag and fit it inside of the lining (your lining is still wrong side out). The right sides of the fabric will be together. This is going to be a little snug, but you can do it! Make sure all of your cording is tucked inside, in between the two layers. Matching the top edges, pin at all four corners (nesting the seams if you can). I also like to pin where the cording is, making sure it’s nice and straight. Sew a generous ¼” seam all the way around the top edge of your bag. I like to go back and forth a few times when I go over the cording. Trim all of your threads, and those little bits of taped up cording too!

Through your 3” escape hatch, turn your bag right side out. This is going to take a little wiggling, but you can do it.

Once it’s all turned out, give it another good going over with your iron. While you’re at it, press the lining away from the bag exterior, and give your opening a nice pressing as well. Hand or machine sew your opening (I’ve done both, whichever is easiest, or whichever one I don’t have to change the thread in my machine for!). Tuck lining down inside your bag. I like to leave about ¼” of the lining exposed on the outside of the bag (it kind of wants to do that anyway). Press the top edge, then topstitch close to the seam, on the lining. (I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide.)

Last, add the jewelry! Grab your wooden bead. These can be a little rough inside and might fray the cord, so I take a little bit of sandpaper, wrap it around a chopstick, and sand the bead hole. Fold one of your cords in half and feed through the hole in the bead. Take the other cord, and feed it through as well. It will be a tad tight. A tweezers will help to grasp the second loop. Slide the bead to the base of the cords, snug against the top of your bag. Match your two cord loops at the top and tie a knot.

That’s it, you’re done!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please let me know if you make this!

I’d love for you to visit me at my blog! If you’re not feeling quite up to making a bag, I have a few for sale in my Etsy shop, where I also feature some quilts, vintage sheets and vintage Pyrex. Stop by!

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19 Responses to Fat Quarter Project ~ Project Bag Tutorial

  1. Terrie says:

    Such a cute project bag! Thank you for the tutorial :)

  2. DonnaC says:

    This is a really cute project! Thank you…..

  3. Kim says:

    Wow! This is super cute. This would work great as a gift bag, I can start early on my Christmas stuff. Thanks for the great idea and tutorial!

  4. Water Works says:

    This is a great idea! And such a wonderfully laid out tutorial. Thanks so much for putting it together.

  5. Faye says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I appreciate people like you who are willing to share what they know.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Fabulous! Perfect for the sock knitting I am working on (actually that I start, then frog, then start again!).

  7. Angela says:

    This is very doable, and sure beats the ziploc bags I’m using now!

  8. Heather K says:

    Thanks everyone! Patricia, the fabric line is Kathy Davis Journeys.

    Im, if you email me (through my blog) I’ll help you with the cording!)

  9. Jess says:

    Super cute job! Your knitting will have a place of style now!! :)

  10. lm says:

    This is really cute but…is there another view of the cording, I don’t quite understand how it works.

  11. Sheryl says:

    What a sweet bag! I’m going to have to try this one…thank you Heather!

  12. Kirsten says:

    This is lovely – just in time for Mother’s Day!.

  13. Marie says:

    oh my god that is soo cute…i have tons of fat quarter fabric lying around in my sewing room…i got them on sale at Joanns…I will definitely pin this for my list of things to do…thanks for the great tutorial.

  14. Patricia says:

    Just beautiful. What fabric line is this? I love the dragonflies. This will be added to my list of must-do projects!

  15. Nikki says:

    Thank you for this cute tutorial! You’re instructions look clear and easy. I am going to try this out as part of a mother’s day gift.

  16. Suzanne says:

    What a fun bag! thanks for great directions.

  17. craftytammie says:

    great tutorial heather! i will have to try this one!

  18. Carolyn Ross says:

    That is really cute! Thanks so much for the tutorial and all the pictures you included. I hope to make one for my yarn soon.

  19. Anna Vaughn says:

    So cute!

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