Monday, August 06, 2012

Beach Bag

Months ago I came across a very cute canvas beach bag on Pinterest. AND there was a tutorial.... But I had no reason to make it. But then we decided that we would go to Vegas for my hubby's 30th birthday celebration and I thought to myself there is a water park in Vegas. And we're staying at a place with a pool. I'm so making one of these! And then I saw lots of cute fabric at Hancock and decided I would make two - one for me and one for the sis-in-law (her and my brother and their baby are joining us in Vegas - should be a good time).

I have to admit I have a bit of a perfectionist spirit in me... But I was thinking about it today (looking for a way to justify it), and I realized that if I'm going to put time and money into a project, I want to REALLY like it and I want it to LAST. So, some of the adjustments I made on the bags could be blamed for the perfectionist side of me... but I just wanted bigger and better =)


1.) 1 yard of canvas (or duck
2.) 2 1/2 yards of thick cording for the handles and interior "pockets" ("pockets" optional)
3.) Coordinating thread
4.) Scissors, pins, hand sewing needle, pinking sheers (sheers optional)
5.) Rotary board (optional) rotary blades/cutter (optional) - I find that using the rotary when I don't have a pattern and all straight lines that it's easier and faster and a more exact way of cutting out pieces.
6.) Iron, sewing machine, serger (optional - the serger is a fast and easy way to finish seam edges)
7.) Decorative button (optional)
8.) Interfacing (optional - I decided I wanted the base of the bag a little more sturdy)


1.) Wash your fabric - the beach is messy, the pool can be messy, you'll be taking this bag out you want to be able to wash it. I ALWAYS start by washing fabric, and in the instance of this project I realized that my duck shrunk a lot and I needed to go get some extra fabric (I only got 3/4 of a yard at first). I'd rather it shrink BEFORE I put all the time and energy into it =)

2.) Iron your fabric - it makes it SO much easier to cut when you're working with a flat canvas!

3.) Decide how you want your pattern to lay out. My exterior fabrics were stripped and I wanted them to go vertical but the fabric didn't cooperate... My interior fabrics could go any direction. 

4.) Measure, remeasure and cut. You will have 6 pieces from each fabric
-You need two 21" x 17 1/2"(width x height) for the front and back {piece A}
- You need two 7" x 17 1/2" (width x height) for the sides {piece B}
-You need one 7" x 21 (width x length) for the base (you can also cut the same size of interfacing if you want, but just for one of the base pieces, not both). {piece C}
-You need one 10 1/2" x 10 (width x height) for the pocket (I chose to do two pockets so I could have one inside too) {piece D}
**I used a pinking blade when I cut out my pieces, this is a good way to finish your edges**

5.) Fold the edges of the pocket over 1/4" and press then do this again (this will finish the edges so that you don't have to worry about fraying when you wash or use your pocket a lot).

6.) If you want to give your pocket a little extra flair, open the bottom corners and fold those in at an angle.

**You may want to trim the corner fabric a little so that all the layers lay a little flatter**
You could also serge the pocket, then press the edge under and then secure to the bag - I didn't think about that until just now... That'd be faster and it would lay flatter.

7.) Straight stitch across the top of the pocket to secure the top hem. Don't forget to back stitch at the beginning and ends so that your stitching does not come out.

8.) Pick out your front piece A and decide where you want your pocket to be placed. If you want it centered, make sure you measure =) Secure with pins.

9.) Do not stitch across the top of your pocket! You want to be able to get into it =) Start in one corner (don't forget to back stitch!) and stitch around the pocket. You may want to do some extra stitching in the corners because, let's face it, pockets get a lot of wear and tear and extra securing will be worth it. A simple square or a fancy triangle will do.

10.) Hand sew your button on to the front of your pocket. 

**A trick for stitching corners is to select the option on your machine (if it has it) to stop with the needle in the down position. The needle will keep the stitching in line so that you can raise the presser foot and pivot your fabric. Nice and tidy. **

**Also, make sure that you are catching the edge of the folded seam with your stitching or it will come undone and you won't have a finished edge anymore. - In other words, don't stitch the pocket right on the outer edge**

Now the fun part - stitching the bag together! 

11.) I started with piece A that has the pocket and one piece B. With rights sides (the nice part you want to be seen when the bag is finished) together line up the far edges of the fabric. I serged the pieces together then went back and straight stitched along the edge of the seem. (perfectionist... I serged to finish the edges and straight stitched to reinforce that seam, I did this on all my seams).

12.) Grab your other piece B and follow the same steps on the other side of front piece A so that both B pieces are attached to A. Then grab the other piece A and attach so that you have an inside out fabric rectangle (you know, 2 sides and a front and back - all this piece A and piece B is confusing).

13.) Now for the slightly tricky part... Putting piece C on can be a little patience-testing, so just go slow and pin-pin-pin! (if you choose to use interfacing wait to iron it on after you've done step 12 - if the base is too stiff it makes it harder to manipulate).
I lined up the shorter ends of the base first and pinned those, then rotated the fabric and pinned from the corners out. Do what works for you though!

**if this is your outer fabric flip the bag right side out and check to make sure you don't have any holes in your seams**

14.) I decided I wanted some "accessories" inside my bag. I put in a pocket (follow steps 5-9) and "cubbies" for water bottles and diapers and wipes (totally could be altered for whatever you'd like though, just measure the items and pin the cording where you want it sewn in, I used a zigzag stitch for extra hold.)

15.) Once you have your accessories completed follow steps 10-12 again to put together the lining of the bag.

16.) You may want to press your seams before you attach the two bags together. I tend to press the seams all the same direction, but as long as they are flat I don't think it really matters.

17.) Leave the interior liner bag inside out and put the exterior piece inside it, so that right sides are facing each other.

18.) Cut your cording for the handles your desired length (I did 32") and decide where you want them placed on the bag (I measured 4" from each side and pinned in place.

19.) Now the important part with these handles is to pin them to match the "raw" edges of the bags - so your handles will be inside where the right sides of the fabric are.

20.) Pin the raw edges together, lining up your seams (make sure you put pockets and accessories on the side of the bag you want them in) but leave about a 4 inch opening somewhere so you can turn the bag inside out once you've finished sewing.

**On this seam I only serged the pieces together**

21.) Once you're done finishing this edge, pull the bags inside out and stuff the liner into the bag. Poke the corners real good and straighten out the sides to make sure everything fits really well.

22.) Fold the open seam together so that it matches the rest of the bag top and pin in place. You may want to press this area, it will make the finishing stitch faster and neater.

23.) You can quickly straight stitch this seam or add a zigzag for a bit of artistic flair. Just remember that this seam will be seen and it will help the bags stay where they're supposed to be.

If you have any questions please let me know!

My first bag took 3 days to complete... I'll blame that on poor naps from baby =) The second bag I got done in less than 3 hours. I really enjoyed this project and already have ideas for more; I want to try some photos on fabric and make some bags for Christmas presents...
If you don't have time to make your own... Send me your fabric!

Happy Sewing!

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