I promised you a box bag tutorial didn’t I?
This bright little number is up-cycled from a merino sweater and a pretty paisley cotton top. I love orange (my bridesmaid wore orange) and this combination, with lavender paisley and cherry red zip, just makes my heart skip. My box bag is fully lined, has a handle, a zip pull tab and, most importantly to me, NO RAW EDGES INSIDE! Anyway, let’s get started with yours. You’ll need: Fabric for the exterior of your bag, lining, interfacing, cotton and a zip. If you want a handle and a pull tab you’ll need fabric for those too. My orange bag is 23cm (9″) long, 10cm (4″) wide and 10cm (4″) deep, perfect for a small to medium sized knitting/crocheting project. But, you could make your box bag any size you like. See how the zip curves down the sides? Measure how long you want your bag to be, and how deep, and add these numbers together. Add another 2cm (1″) for seams. Got your total? That is how long your zip needs to be, from zip pull to the tab at the bottom, not including the flappy bits at either end. My zip was 34cm (13.5″) long, from zip pull, to the tab at the bottom. Including the ends, it was 38cm long (15″). How much fabric for the bag? Your exterior fabric and your lining pieces will be cut exactly the same size, and need to be the same width as the zip length you’ve calculated above. I cut my fabric 34cm (13.5″) wide (across the grain). To figure out how long to cut your fabric, work out how wide you want your bag to be and add this number to the depth. Double the total, then add 2.5cm (1″) for zip seam allowances.
My bag is 10cm (4″) wide and 10cm (4″) deep. So, I cut my fabric 42.5cm (17″) long (with the grain).
Hope that isn’t too much maths! Take it slow and write it all down. I think that bags benefit from interfacing on both the exterior and lining fabric. It isn’t the end of the world if you don’t have any, but I think you’ll notice a difference if you use it.
I like iron-on interfacing because it’s easy. For this bag I used heavy-weight interfacing for the exterior fabric and light-weight for the lining. Cut your interfacing the same size as your fabric and iron it onto the WRONG side of the fabric.
Using a zip foot, sew the zip to the exterior fabric, RIGHT sides together. Start and stop sewing 1.5cm (1/2″) from the ends. Back-stitch your seams.
Lay your lining fabric onto your zip, RIGHT side down, making a sandwich of your exterior fabric, zip and lining (see above). Sew, again starting and stopping 1.5cm (1/2″) from each end.
Fold the lining and the exterior fabric wrong sides together and iron the seams flat. Right, take a deep breath. I hold my breath when sewing zips too… Fold the exterior fabric and the lining lengthwise, right sides together. Pin the end of the exterior fabric and the lining to the other side of your zip (the side not sewn yet). You’re making another sandwich of the exterior fabric, zip and then lining. See how you have created two “loops”? That’s what you want. Sew, again leaving a 1.5cm (1/2″) gap at either end. Turn the outer fabric right side out and press your seam (You could top-stitch your zip here. I didn’t because I prefer not to top-stitch fluffy fabric like wool).
IMPORTANT! Open your zip half-way. Leave it open! If you want a pull tab, make it now. I used the lining fabric to make mine. Cut a piece 3cm (1.25″) wide and 5cm (2″) long. Iron on some lightweight interfacing the same size. Fold lengthwise, right sides together and join the sides with a narrow seam. Back-stitch your seam. Turn right side out, arrange so that the seam lies along the middle of your tab and iron flat. Then, fold lengthwise along the seam and iron the fold (see above). Turn the exterior fabric inside out again and lie flat, so that the zip lies along the centre (see above). At the bottom end of the zip (the closed end), pull the lining back so that the zip is exposed. Pin the zip to both sides of the fabric and sew a seam about 1.5cm (1/2″) wide along the end, through both layers of the exterior fabric and the zip. Turn over and repeat for the lining (pull the exterior fabric back and sew the zip to the two layers of lining). Try to sew across the zip in the same place, it gives a neater finish. Turn to the other (un-sewn) end where the zip is open. Stop! This end is a little different. Now, I made a little boo-boo here and had to back-track to take my photos. I forgot to add the pull tab! See where I have unpicked my seam? Just goes to show, you can fix most things. I use my un-picker A LOT! Pull back the lining as you did before, exposing the exterior fabric. Lift the top layer. Place your sewn, folded and ironed pull tab, folded edge in, along the bottom layer of the exterior fabric set in a little from the edge. Lie the top layer back down and then position your zip, so that the tab and the zip are centred. Make sure the teeth of the zip are together. Pin and sew as before, making sure that you secure the pull tab. You might want to go back and forth over it a few times! (Some box bags have pull tabs at both ends. This isn’t tricky, just insert another tab at the other end too, before you sew it!) Turn the bag over and secure the zip and the two sides of lining, like you did at the other end. Don’t fret, but we are going to cut the corners out of your lovely sewn piece.
Measure a square at each corner (measure from the seams, see above) and cut. To work out how deep and wide to cut your square divide the depth of your bag in half. Cut a square 1.5cm (1/2″) less than that amount. For example, my bag is 10cm (4″) deep and I cut out 3.5cm (1.5″) squares.
It all goes a bit weird here, but it ends well, so bear with me … Starting at the bottom end of the zip (not the pull tab end), lift and pinch the corners of the cut-out squares together, so that the seam lies at the centre, as above. Pin and sew. Sew shut both of the exterior fabric openings and ONE of the lining openings. Leave one of the lining squares open. Before you start the other end, we’ll make the handle. I used one piece of the exterior fabric and one of the lining to make my handle, but you could use just lining, just the exterior fabric, or another fabric entirely. I cut two pieces of fabric 23cm (9″) long (with the grain) and 10cm (4″) wide (across the grain) for my handle. If you are making a different sized bag, you’ll need to work out the length and width of your handle.
Measure the seam length on the corners that you’ve just sewn. This gives you the maximum width your handle can be. Add 3cm (1″) to this measurement for seams.
To work out the length, add 7.5cm (3″) to the measurement you have for the width of your bag (this number includes 3cm (1″) for seams). Afix interfacing to both pieces. With right sides together, sew a 1.5cm (1/2″) seam down each of the long sides. Turn right sides out, and press. OK, we’re nearly there now. Turn to the other end of your bag. Sew together the cut-out squares in the lining, like you did at the other end (see above) Slide the handle into the cut-out squares in the external fabric (inside fabric facing the end, see above). Push the length of the handle inside and pinch the cut-out squares so that the seams lie down the centres (as before). Sandwich the handle between the two sides of external fabric and pin. Sew shut. Don’t forget to back-stitch your seams to secure your handle. Very carefully turn your bag, through the open corner in the lining. Gently does it. With the lining facing outwards, fold in the edges and pin the lining opening closed. You could zoom up this edge with your sewing machine, but I prefer to hand sew this corner shut, as invisibly as possible. It just makes a perfect finish.
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