Done to a T

Last night I finally started, and finished a late Christmas present that I’d been cogitating on for a while. It’s a bag, for a child, whose name begins with T.

T'bag

T’bag

It’s made from scraps, recognise that pink fabric for the T? The purple is some home dyed calico from an abandoned project that’s in my stash. And the pocket on the bag is a scrap of fabric from a t shirt that has already been cut up and refashioned but yet to be blogged about. The lining is left over from the Christmas Shirt.

Now with added frogs

Now with added frogs

The idea for the bag came after our children were given Christmas presents by a folky family we know. I wanted to make a present in return and use some of left over fabric that I was making presents for my kids for. Except I wasn’t sure how suitable either material was for bag exterior, so I threw some of the purple fabric I was using to make a waistcoat muslin for my husbands Christmas present (still unfinished, the muslin that is, let alone the real thing) into the mix. Plus for some reason I decided that I wanted to make a bag where the sides were zips, so that it could be used to take some toys out and then zipped flat to be a playing mat. So I bought 2 zips that fully open, the colour choices were rather random, I opted for turquoise. And my daughter chose a button.

That was as far as I got. But I kept thinking about it. And about how to have zip sides without leaving a big hole for stuff to fall out of. Making two Presido Purse’s helped too.

Anyway, the thinking must have helped, because it all came together pretty easily. First, I drafted a pattern, based on the zip length.

Self drafted pattern

Self drafted pattern

Basically there’s a long rectangle that’s the bag front, then a very short one the depth of the zips to be the bag base but wider to create tabs that fold inside and prevent things falling out underneath the zips, then another long rectangle to be the bag back, with an extra bit to go accross the top before the trapezium flap. Then whack your favourite seam allowance around the outside.

Adding the zips

Adding the zips

I cut this template out from both my main and my lining fabric. I added the T to the front of my main fabric and found the scrap of purple jersey with a frog on lying about and whipped up a patch pocket and added it to the back. Then I basted the zips in place, face down (right side to right side with the fabric) and facing inwards, unsurprisingly like Erin’s tutorial.

Close up of the tabs

Close up of the tabs

At this point, I realised (luckily before I sewed the lining on) that I hadn’t thought about where to attatch the strap. Normally this is easy, sew it to the top of the sides, but, err, the sides are zips. After a bit of headscratching I worked out that I could probably attatch handles to the fold over bit of the back (between the back and the flap) but that it might work better with D rings. I went and raided my stores and found two plastic D rings and a clasp that had been cut off a long defunct rucksack and some navy blue soft woven tape (hey, the more colours the merrier) and added the D rings above the zips (zig zagged to add strength and prevent fraying).

Emergency D rings

Emergency D rings

Then to add a quick pocket to the lining (I’m a big fan of pockets). I didn’t match the pattern this time, but I did do a quick extra line of stitching to make a pen holder up the side.

Spot the pocket

Spot the pocket

Next I was ready to sew the lining to the main bag, all along the outside leaving just what would be the top of the front open.

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

Then I turned the bag the right way round, folded my raw edge inside at the top front forgot to press it flat as I had a phonecall and topstitched all around the outside (I went straight down the whole side along line of the zips rather than around the outside of the flaps, so that the line of stitching would create a natural place for the flaps to bend inwards) before adding the adjustable strap to the D rings and putting a couple of hand stitches to hold the bottom of the tabs in place on the inside.

Strappage

Strappage

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

Then I just had to put a button hole in the tab and sew on the button my daughter had chosen especially, which had purple, turquoise and pinky red flowers on it that picked up the colours of the bag.
And voila, a bag with adjustable strap an external and internal patch pocket, that you normally open by unbuttoning the tab but if desired you can unzip the sides too to make a playmat.

Opened out as a playing mat

Opened out as a playing mat

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