Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tutorial: The Going-On-a-Walk Bag

Love this bag. 

It's colorful. Don't you think it screams spring? Or even summer. 

It hangs comfortably across my body thanks to a long, thick strap. 

It cost me hardly anything to make. Three cheers for upcycling!

It allowed me to hone my patchwork skills.

It's the perfect size to hold items you need on a walk or a trip to the park, when taking along the entire diaper bag is cumbersome. 


So let's get to the tutorial, eh? So you can make one, too!

You will need:

-- 18 rectangles of coordinating fabrics. My rectangles were 7 inches by 4.5 inches each.
. (If you don't want to do patches, the finished rectangles before sewing the bag together were 19 by 13.)
-- Two 19 inches by 13 inches rectangles of lining fabric. I used a stiffer home dec weight cotton.
-- Interfacing if you so choose. I did not use interfacing, but I might if I did it again. If you choose to, you'll need two 19 by 13 inch rectangles of interfacing.
-- A 10 inches by 50 inch piece of heavy cotton or canvas for the strap. I used leftover scraps from a pair of IKEA curtains I hemmed.  If you want to make it a little shorter and use 44-45 inch fabric, that's fine. Your strap will then hit a little higher, like more at the hip.

Also, a sewing machine, thread, cutting board, scissors or rotary cutter, iron, ironing board, pins, etc.

I used 1/4 inch seam allowances throughout. 
Although let it be noted: I am not the most accurate sewer in the world. 

So this project got started because I had this stash of upholstery scraps laying around for more than a year.I got them at Arts and Scraps in Detroit. They were so pretty but I didn't know what to do with them. And so they sat in my stash. For a year!

Step. 1 First thing I did was cut my rectangles off of this strip of fabric. For you, you'll want to cut all your rectangles, as well as the lining and strap pieces. And the interfacing if you are going to use it. Interfacing gives your final bag a little more weight and stiffness, which is nice. Since I was using heavier-weight fabrics I thought I didn't need it. But I think it is probably a good idea.

Here's my pile of rectangles.

Step 2: Lay your rectangles out into a grid, figuring out which arrangement you like best for each side of the bag.

Step 3: Once you have an arrangement you like, take three rectangles that form a row from top to bottom. (Like the left row in this picture with the yellow, blue and white squares.) You're going to piece these together. Begin by pinning two rectangles wrong sides together. (If you have a directional print, meaning the fabric has a right-side-up, make sure you have accounted for that!) Now sew together with a 1/4 inch seam down only one long side. Then open and repeat with the third rectangle, pinning it right sides together with your first piece and then sewing down the long side. Now you have one row of three rectangles

Do this with each row, of each side, top to bottom. You'll have six sets of three.

Step. 4: Iron open all of your seams.

Step 5: Take two rows of rectangles that will be adjoined and place right sides together and pin. Make sure you align the seams the best you can. (Since I started without accurately measured rectangles, at this point, I had to trim some of my rows to make sure my seams would align. If you're not super accurate, you might need to do this, too!) Sew together along one side. This is where you're at now.

Open and pin the last row of rectangles, right sides together, to your piece with six rectangles. Sew along the long side. Open. You now have one finished side! Repeat with the other side of your outer layer.

Step 6. Iron open all of your seams.

Step 7: Now you're going to make your curved corners. Decide which part is the bottom of your outer layers. On the wrong side, use a rounded object like a cup or bowl -- I used a coffee canister -- to trace a curve in one corner. Mark with a water soluble pen or a pencil. Or if you're like me and don't really care, a faint pen mark. This is on the wrong side of the fabric. Cut along the curve. Then fold in half right sides together to trace and cut the other side. This was they'll match!

Step 8: Do the same with your lining fabric.

Step 9: Pin your outside pieces together right sides together. Starting at one top corner, sew around the outside bottom of the bag. Leave the top open. Repeat with the lining pieces.
Step 10: Now, let's make the strap. Take the long piece of strap fabric. Fold it in half wrong sides together lengthwise and iron. Open and fold each side in, wrong sides together, toward the middle fold. Iron. It should look like this.

Eegads, please ignore my ugly and stained ironing board cover!
Step 10: Now fold it back in half, enclosing the unfinished ends inside. Iron again. Add some pins if you need to!

Step. 11: Sew the strap together along the open side with a quarter-inch seam allowance.

Step 12: This one is a little bit optional, but because I used a blue thread, I wanted to top stitch down the other side as well. I think this makes the strap look a little more finished. It's up to you. If you're going to, go ahead and stitch down the opposite side, also with a quarter inch seam allowance.

Step 13: Time to assemble the bag! *Two quick notes. If you want to use interfacing, iron it onto the wrong side of the outer bag rectangles now, following the instructions on the package. Also, if you'd like to add a Velcro closure, you could sew those onto the middle of the right side of each lining piece now. When I made mine, I opted to skip these steps. But if you want to, now is the time!

Turn your outside piece so the wrong side is facing out. Place the strap inside the bag, pining each end in place at the top where the front and back meet. Make sure the strap isn't twisted. Then slip in lining piece with right-side out into the outer piece, sandwiching the strap in the middle. Make sure the strap is sticking out about an inch or so. Like this....

See? The two right sides are facing each other with the strap sandwiched between them. Got it? Make sure the two side seams are aligned. Pin in place.

Step 14:  Sew around the top of the bag, leaving a 2-3 inch hole for turning. If you make it 2 like I did, be prepared for the struggle of pulling home dec-weight fabric through a small hole.

Step 15: Pull bag right-side out through the hole you left, and then push the lining fabric inside the outer piece of your bag. Success! If you struggled like me, your bag will be a hot wrinkle mess at this moment.

Step 16: Iron your bag into shape. The part you left open for turning will need to be folded down a quarter inch on each side and ironed. Pin if necessary to hold it down.

Step 17: Top stitch around the top of your bag, closing the hole.

And you are done! Wheeeeee!

This bag is such a nice size. I can fit my nursing cover, wipes case, a few diapers, my wallet, keys, cell phone, a sippy cup, a spare outfit... Pretty much everything I usually put in my diaper bag, if I need to. But it's especially nice if I don't really neeeeeed all that stuff, like if I'm just taking the boys on a walk and only want the essentials. Then, if we say stop at the market or something, there is even room for a few other things. And it sits right below my hip, out of my way for walking. It's very light-weight, too!

I'm in love!

I also think it looks pretty cute crumpled on my porch bench. 

Or hanging on a hook! Makes we want to grab it and go walk outside and smell the flowers. 

Ahhhh, spring.

I hope you like it and want to make your own. If you do, please email the photos! I'd love to feature your takes on the Going-On-a-Walk Bag! You can email me a tharshesews at gmail dot com. 

Happy sewing!
PhotobucketNightOwlCrafting Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. I absolutely love that bag!

  2. Stopping by from Sew Cute Tuesday @ Creative Itch. I love the bag and the fabric you chose. Thanks for the tute too!!

    Stop by my blog when you have a moment and see the Burda jacket I just finished http://craftybrooklynarmywife.blogspot.com/2011/05/quilted-coat-finished.html

  3. i was just givin a sewing machine from my mother and i think i may have just found my first project ! thanks so much i love it !

  4. Oooooh, this would be the perfect project for using up my scrap fabric! Thanks!

  5. Love the bag! Come and join my linky party: http://fabricbowsandmore.blogspot.com/

  6. I love your bag!!! Thank you for sharing the tut!!! I would so want to make one!!! Perfect for summer:)

  7. Looks great! Perfect project to use up scraps!

  8. Love that bag!! Reminds me of a Vera Bradley, only cooler. ;)

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :) Hope you'll stop by Serenity Now again soon! :)

  9. LOVe this!! Awesome awesome!! great job!!

  10. I also love your bag. Here's a quick tip that I'd like to pass along. When I make a bag with a lining, I leave my opening to turn at the bottom of the lining. I can quickly stitch that together when I'm done and no one will see it, so it doesn't have to be super neat like it would be at the top of the bag.

  11. Super cute and I love all the colors. Thanks so much for linking up! Can't wait to see what you have for this week.

  12. in love with this! so pretty and springy! the weather is calling for 18 degrees celsius this week so I think I'm going to have to make this bag! :D

  13. I feel a lot more people need to read this, very good info! . . . . . .