The latest addition to our ‘Covid 19 warrior projects’ is this decorative appliqué bag, building on the skills acquired from our previous projects of the bag. We will also cover adding a flap to the bag and a magnetic clasp closure.
Other projects have included our ‘fitted face mask’, ‘reversible peg bag’, ‘circular bag project’, ‘simple six pocket bag project’ and most recently our ‘decorative stash bag’ ; all designed to bring us together with a common goal in mind.
With a deep main compartment and six exterior pockets,
you won’t be short on storage. The pockets of the simply sewn bag are cleverly formed when the straps are attached—no additional sewing necessary. This time however we are going to add some additional decorative elements in the form of appliqué centre panels as well as the previously covered topic of diamond pin-tucks to the side pockets. This sewing project is for the more experienced sewist, although the side pockets and flap could be left plain to simplify the task.
Equipment you will need
- Ironing board
- Quilter’s pins
- Mini clips – (these are similar to small bulldog clips and are used to hold multiple layers together)
- Sewing machine
- 6” (15 cm) sewing gauge
- Fabric shears or scissors
- Tape measure
- Heat erasable marker pen
- 36” (90 cm ) Fusible web (optional)
- 1 packet of Bondaweb
- A square of stitch and tear for each appliqué
- Fabric scraps for appliqué
- Two small squares of collar canvas to strengthen area under clasp
Fabric requirements for decorative bag pockets
Fabric A – Cut four 9” x 12” ( 23cm x 30 cm) rectangles; these will make the diamond pin-tucks for the side pockets.
Fabric B- Cut two 9” x 6” ( 23cm x 15cm) rectangles; these will be the centre appliqués.
Pocket lining fabric – Cut four 18” x 9″ ( 45cm x 23cm) rectangles for pocket base and linings. (These will replace the 18” x 17” pocket pieces from the original simple six pocket bag.)
Remaining Fabric requirements
Fabric C – Cut four 18” x 11” ( 45cm x 28cm) main bag fabric / lining; label each piece.
Bag flap – make a 6″ x 7″ (15cm x 17.5) pattern piece. fold in half lengthwise and curve the bottom edge. Open out and cut two in fabric, one in fusible interfacing. ( I used the cathedral window technique for my flap, working on the rectangular pattern before trimming the bottom curve)
Straps – cut two 34 – 36” x 4” (85cm – 90 cm x 10 cm ) lengths in contrast of your choice or use two co-ordinating fabrics for a two tone handle ; label each piece
Decovil light or Decovil 1- Cut two 10.5” x 18” for the interlining. These are both fusible and will give a firmer shape than the Thermolam we used in the simple six pocket bag, although more of a challenge to turn through and work with in general. When assembling the bag it would be advisable to use a size 100 or 16 needle and a longer stitch length to deal with the layers.
Before you begin
- Bag size: 8” x 14” x 4” (21cm x 35.5 cm x 10cm)
- Measurements include 1/2” (12 mm) seam allowances.
- Sew with right sides together unless otherwise stated.
Select your choice of appliqué pattern; the smaller the pieces the greater the skill level required to handle them. I used the advanced skill level floral design for the front of the bag and the simpler owl pattern for the back.
- Trace your pattern onto the right side of your fabric, using a heat erasable marking pen. Ensure that the design is centred within the seam allowances of the pattern piece as shown.
Transfer your design onto the adhesive side of the bondaweb so that it won’t reverse your design when cut and applied. Trace each element of the design into separate modules in order to cut into appliqué pieces.
Separate the pieces and press onto fabric scraps. Peel away the paper backing and carefully press into position. make sure you take note of the order of the design; for instance, the owl’s body would be pressed into position before the wings or the eyes and beak.
French knot method
Hand sew a french knot for the eyes, using hand embroidery thread if possible. If not a double strand of dressmaking thread will work. Secure the thread from the underside and bring through to the front at the centre of the eye. Take a small stitch, staying close to the centre so the tip of the needle has passed in and out of the fabric but the main shaft of the needle is still in place. At that point take the thread and wrap it around the needle five or six times. Push the thread down towards the eye as you continue to pull the needle through. then pass the needle back through to the reverse side very close to the first stitch and secure from the back of the fabric.
Appliqué is usually sewn using three common stitches; straight stitch, for a rustic look, particularly effective in denim where the frayed worn look is desired ; zigzag stitch for a decorative open look or satin stitch, a very close zigzag that forms a more solid stitch. Of course, there are other stitches such as blanket stitch that work equally well.
So, the basic guidance is as follows:
- Use stitch and tear under the fabric to stabilise the build up of fabrics as you work, even if you have used Bondaweb.
- Always practice first; especially if you are trying this for the first time. Practice sewing around outer curves, inner curves and into and away from corners.
- Use an open toe foot if possible, or a clear foot otherwise as it’s important to have a clear view of the area to be sewn.
- Apart from a straight stitch, always start on the outside of the shape as you won’t know exactly how far the needle will swing at the start. The aim is to have ninety nine percent of the stitch over the appliqué. I generally work anticlockwise.
- I used a stitch width of 2.0 and a stitch length of 1.5 for a slightly open zigzag. You will need to try this out on your own machine as each is slightly different, especially at the closer satin stitch end of the range. Too close and you risk the thread ‘nesting’ where it sews on the spot, producing a build up of tangled thread! Experiment with your own machine.
- When working on corners, take care as you pivot that the needle doesn’t swing into an unexpected direction!
- Another method of sewing corners is to reduce the stitch width as you approach the corner and increase again as you move away. Again, practice lots first so that you have an idea of how your machine will react.
Once the appliqué has been completed, assemble the pockets sections in the same way as the decorative stash bag project .
Magnetic clasp application
Attaching the clasp is quite a simple process but clearly the position and alignment is critical. So we start by marking the position on the reverse side of the centre front main bag piece after the Decovil light has been fused. This will be 11/2″ (4cm) down, so that it sits above the front pockets.
- Use the silver disc of the clasp as a template to mark the centre position and the area at either side where the prongs will be passed through to secure the clasp.
- Carefully use an unpick to cut a tiny slit either side of the centre mark.
- Pass the prongs through to the reverse.
- Make same cuts on a small square of collar canvas and place over the top.
- Add the silver disc and spread the prongs to secure the clasp
The female part of the clasp attaches to the outside of the bag front. The male part to the underside of the pocket flap. The bag linings are then attached to front first, so that flap alignment can assessed; then to the back, sandwiching the flap between the bag back and lining.
Continue to assemble the bag as for the decorative stash bag
We’d love to see your creations. Email your pics and we will include them in our gallery. Next time we will feature a cleverly designed scalloped apron that has been created with the female form in mind.
Please select the links below to download a selection of appliqué templates. Ensure your printer settings are set to 100% rather than scale to fit. this will keep them to a size that will fit within the pocket area. Ignore the 1″ square as these have been scaled smaller than the original template size.