Loryn: If you’d like to be able to create a simple bag or purse pattern in any size you want, this tutorial is for you. I created the pattern to make a set of grocery bags, but you can make them any size you want! The grocery bags are a nice place to get started, though, because they are unlined, with a simple handle, and even if they’re not perfect, they’ll still eliminate the need for a plastic bag! I’ll go over bag assembly in a second post, and I’ll show a gallery of design changes you can make in a third post.
To get started, you’ll need:
- Paper large enough to draft the pattern. I like the weight of cardstock, so I just taped four pieces together.
- A pencil
- A ruler (a 6″ quilting ruler is handy).
The first step is to determine how wide you want your bag to be across the top (this shape is narrower at the bottom). I decided on 14″ for my grocery bag. Then, determine how tall you want it to be. This bag will be 12″.
Once you’ve decided on the size, draw a rectangle the width and height of your bag. Mine above is 14″ by 12″. Leave room on all four sides for seam allowances and hems, which we’ll add later.
The next step is to determine the depth (width across) of your bag. Add a second rectangle that is half the size of your desired depth. I want my bag to be 6″ deep, so I added a 3″ rectangle onto the bottom of the first rectangle. If you want a 4″ bag, add 2″, etc.
Next, you’ll mark out the corners that will be cut off. The size of the corner is a square, the same size as half the depth of your bag. Since I added a 3″ rectangle, I’ll mark out a 3″ square on each side.
The two outside corners will be cut off. You can achieve a similar result by making a bag the size of the total rectangle, and then sewing across each corner. I prefer this method because it is much more precise and it makes it easier to make your corners exactly the same size.
Next, you’ll add seam allowances. The translucent quilting ruler makes this easier. I added 1/2″ seam allowances, and the size will depend on your seam finish. In part 2 of this series, I’ll use french seams to assemble the bag. You might want to add 3/4″ seam allowances if you plan to use this finish. I also added only 1/2″ to the top of the bag. I recommend adding more for a hem allowance, at least 1″.
Now you’re ready to cut your pattern out and prepare to cut your fabric! I’ll go through bag assembly in part 2 later this week.
After I assembled my first bag, I discovered that 14″ really is not wide enough for a grocery bag. I measured one of my plastic ones and discovered that they are more like 18″ wide. Luckily, there is a simple way to add width to the pattern without starting from scratch. Just cut it in half like this:
Then add more paper in between to get the size that you want.
Now you’re ready to cut out the larger pattern.
For the grocery bags, I made a simple handle from a 20″ by 4″ wide strip, two for each bag. I made one 14″ bag, and three 18″ bags. The smaller bag is perfect for holding the other three when they’re not in use, and it’s also nice for trips when I only pick up one or two things.
I’ll be doing a second post on how to assemble the bags and a third post on all the different designs you can make from one pattern. Check back early next week for more!