This is a great project for beginning sewing, which is why it pops up in my Sew Easy class again and again. The skills you will develop by sewing these bags are:
- continuing to develop cutting and straight-line sewing skills
- sewing in a circle (sewing around)
- how to advance while sewing
- sewing with hook-and-loop tape (Velcro)
- learning basic bag construction (which is easily applied to cosmetic bags and handbags)
- understanding the basics of lining
- sewing boxed corners (optional)
- your basic sewing supplies
- ripstop nylon (sold in the utility section of the fabric store)
- woven fabric (anything from quilting cotton to duck cloth works well; nothing poly or too heavy)
- hook and loop tape*
*A note about hook and loop tape (aka Velcro). You can buy it packaged or by-the-yard. My favorite kind to use is Snag Free Velcro because there is only one piece of tape as opposed to a hook (scratchy) and loop (soft) side. It is significantly more expensive but using it saves me much time and prevents much frustration (and bloodshed–those little hooks can pierce skin!) If I can’t find Snag Free, I prefer Velcro Soft–the kind that is recommended for baby clothes. It is a much more pliable product and easier to sew with that the inexpensive, very plastic-y regular Velcro or hook and loop tapes.
Seam allowance is 1/4″ (often the right side of your presser foot), unless noted otherwise. If you feel 1/4″ is too narrow, sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Just know your bag will be a wee bit smaller and you may want to trim your seam allowance.
To see any photo larger, just click on it!
Option 1: A Basic Reusable Snack Bag
Step 1: Prepare your fabric
If your fabric is non-directional, cut each fabric (the nylon and cotton) into 8″ x 16″ rectangles. If your fabric is directional, cut each fabric into two 8″ x 8″ squares.
Step 2: Sew exterior
Place your cotton fabric right sides together. For the rectangle: sew each side that is perpindicular to the fold. The top should be open and opposite the fold. For the squares: sew all three sides leaving the top open. (Remember to backstitch at start and end.) The direction of the fabric should make sense when the square is looked at with the open end on top. Regardless which shape you begin with, you will end with an 8″ x 8″ “pocket” that is inside out.
Step 3: Sew lining
Repeat this step for the lining EXCEPT on one side you will advance the needle and leave approximately 3″-4″ not sewn. (Remember to backstitch at start and end.) This hole is where you will turn the entire bag right-side-out. To advance, stop sewing and lift the needle and presser foot. Pull the fabric (gently!) away from you until you have reached the desired second starting point. Lower your presser foot and put your needle down. Continue sewing. (Note: Make sure the opening is at least 2″ from each end.)
Note how the thread is long behind the presser foot.
Here is another view from behind the presser foot.
Another view of the side opening after the advanced thread was snipped.
Step 4: Insert lining into exterior
Begin by clipping corners so your corners will be crisp. If you leave the triangle of fabric all that bulk will fill your corner and it will look sloppy.
First, clip the corners at bottom, being careful not to cut your stitches!
Turn the lining right side out and insert it into the exterior (which remains wrong side out). You’ll note the basic sewing principle of “right sides together” is in place here.
Exterior (butterfly) is wrong side out; lining (ripstop) is right side out.
Slide lining inside exterior, careful to match up seams. Double check to make sure neither is greatly bigger than the other. Sew in seams to adjust if this happens.
Step 5: Sew lining to exterior
Remove cover and expose smaller arm of your machine and slide the exterior/lining over it. Beginning at a seam, sew all the way around remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.
Step 6: Sew on hook and loop tape
Turn the bag right side out (through opening in lining), stuffing lining back in bag and pressing (ironing) it flat. Now is also the time to make sure the corners are pushed out nice and crisp.
This is how it will look when you first turn it right-side-out. Simply push the lining inside the exterior after you turn it.
A cotton setting should be fine. You won’t melt the nylon unless you expose it to an open flame or leave a very hot iron on it for an extended period.
After pressing, turn bag inside out and slipping it over the arm of the machine. Place the hook and loop tape on top of the lining, matching it up with top of bag. Sew close to the edge, trying to only sew on the edge tape.
When you return to the starting point, stop before you sew a double layer. Backstitch and cut the hook and loop tape trying to match it up as closely as possible. Sew the second side.
If you ever run into a situation where there is a gap between the two ends, you can use a zig-zag stitch (with a 1.5 stitch length, if possible) to close the gap.
Step 7: Close hole in lining
Pull lining out and pinch the hole closed by tucking in the raw edges and pulling the sides until the hole is sealed and fabric is flat. Place under presser foot and sew as close to the edge as you can, being careful to catch both sides.
Turn it right-side-out and you’re finished!
Option 2: A Reusable Snack Bag with Boxed Corners (flat bottom)
Begin by cutting two 8″ x 8″ squares of each fabric (you’ll have 4 pieces total). Then, cut a square from the bottom corners of each piece. I use a 1 3/4″ square so that my bottom will be 3 inches wide. How did I figure this? You divide the width by two since you have two pieces of fabric or two sides. Then you add your seam allowance and this is the number you square for your corners.
3″ wide / 2 (each side) = 1.5 inches
1.5″ + .25″ (1/4 inch seam allowance) = 1 3/4 inches
So, if you wanted a 2″ bottom and were sewing with a 1/2″ seam allowance:
2″ / 2 = 1 inch
1″ + .5″ = 1.5 inches
Step 1: Prepare the bottom
Mark and cut a square (in this case 1 3/4″) from the bottom two corners of each fabric. If your fabric is directional, be sure you cut the square from the bottom!!!
Step 2: Sew sides
For the exterior fabric, place right sides together and sew the three sides that touch the missing squares (left, right and bottom). DO NOT sew the cut-out square parts! In other words, no pivoting, etc. Leave the top open and sew both sides and the bottom.
For the lining, sew each side and the bottom, just as you did the exterior EXCEPT leave a 3″ hole in the middle of one side. Advance just as described in the basic snack bag above. As you did for the basic bag, please be sure the ends of your hole do not come closer than 2″ from each end of the sides.
If you can’t see the stitches, be sure to click to see this image better. It will show exactly how and where you should sew.
Step 3: Sew boxed corners
Pinch the corners together, matching seams, and sew closed. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each of the four corners.
After the corners are sewn, you will have two mini bags that look like this:
From this point on, you follow steps 4-7 for the basic bag. When completed, you’ll have this:
Remember that we took away three inches from the bottom and sides by making those squares, if you want your bag to be bigger, begin with a larger square!