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Happy Holidays with FreeSpirit & Rowan: Country Fresh Shopping Carryall

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If you're heading out for holiday shopping, you need a bag that makes maneuvering the season's crowded stores and stalls easier, and looks great doing it. We had a few "musts" on our shopping list for this shopping bag: 1) It must be big enough to hold a wallet and essentials as well as smaller purchases, leaving your hands free to browse the racks and bins; Solution: a taller bag with 2" side and bottom panels. 2) The opening must have a cover, but no zippers, buckles or clasps that take two hands to operate; Solution: a longer flap weighted with batting. 3) The strap must be adjustable, allowing you to quickly shorten it as the booty within the bag builds; Solution: short and long shoulder ties. 4) It must be cute, because that's all we allow at Sew4Home; Solution: Amelie's Attic by Melissa White for Rowan Fabrics.

Our thanks to the great folks at FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics for sponsoring  four weeks of holiday happiness! Each week we bring you a new collection from a different designer. This week, you meet Melissa White of Rowan Fabrics. Coming up throughout November are: Ty Pennington, Verna Mosquera and Amy Butler

Melissa White's designs are based on her fifteen years of research into rare Elizabethan wall paintings in Tudor houses across Britain. The result is a series of fabric collections with a modern style softened by patina of history. We were struck by the simple charm of Amelie's Attic. It spoke to us of a fresh, country Christmas. Rich reds, like cheeks flushed by a crisp fall afternoon. Pure pinks, like little dollops of sweet divinity. Crackled vintage florals, like etchings on a frosted window pane. 

We love to take non-traditional fabrics and show you how beautiful they can be when incorporated into holiday projects. For this busy time of year, we've created a slate of fast and easy, "do-it-in-a-day" projects. Simple yet classic creations executed in gorgeous fabrics - perfect for holiday giving and decorating, with a beauty that will last year 'round. 

Amelie's Attic will begin appearing this month, November 2012, at participating online and in-store retailers.

In addition, for all of the projects in our series, Westminster helped us put together a handy Where to Buy Retailer Locator, giving you a fast and easy way to source the fabrics we are featuring from both brick and mortar stores in your area (the page is broken out by state) as well as online options. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

Yardage shown allows a bit extra for fussy cutting.

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bag's sides and bottom, flap, ruffle, ties and lining pocket (Meadow in Sun-bleached in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 3" x 17" rectangles for the side panels 
    ONE 3" x 13" rectangle for the bottom panel 
    TWO 10½" x 10½" squares for the flap and flap lining
    ONE 16" x 11" rectangle for the inside pocket
    ONE 5" x Width of Fabric (WOF) strip for the long strap
    ONE 5" x 30" strip for the short strap
    ONE 5" x WOF strip for the flap ruffle
  2. From the fabric for the bag's front, back and lining (Bloomers in Tea-stained in our sample), cut the following: 
    TWO 13" x 17" rectangles for the front and back panels 
    TWO 15" x 18" rectangles for the lining
  3. From the fusible craft fleece, cut the following: 
    TWO 13" x 16½" rectangles for the front and back panels
    TWO 3" x 16½" rectangles for the side panels 
    ONE 3" x 13" rectangle for the bottom panel 
    ONE 10½" x 10½" square for the flap
  4. From the fusible interfacing, cut the following: 
    ONE 8 x 11" rectangle for the lining pocket

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Fusing

  1. Match up the craft fleece pieces to their corresponding fabric pieces (front, back, sides, bottom and one flap piece). On the front, back and side pieces, align the sides and bottom edges of the pieces; the craft fleece should be ½" below from the top raw edge of the fabric.
  2. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the craft fleece in place on the wrong side of each fabric piece.
  3. Find the 16" x 11" pocket piece. Fold it in half, right sides together, so it now measures 8" x 11". Press to set a center crease. Unfold, wrong side up, so you can see the crease. Place the interfacing on the wrong side, aligning it with the center crease. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the pocket piece.

Prepare the lining and pocket

  1. Fold the pocket piece in half again, right sides together. Pin along both 8" sides.
  2. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides. Leave the bottom of the pocket open. 
  3. Turn the pocket right side out through the bottom opening and press flat.
  4. Find one of the two lining pieces. Place it right side up on your work surface.
  5. Position the pocket on the lining piece. The pocket should be centered side to side, and the top folded edge of the pocket should be 3" down from the top raw edge of the lining.
  6. Using a see-through ruler and a fabric pen or pencil, draw a horizontal line ½" up from the bottom raw edges of the pocket. 
  7. Flip the pocket down. Align the bottom raw edges of the pocket on the drawn line. 
  8. Stitch across the pocket, staying ½" above the drawn line.
  9. Flip the pocket back up into position; the bottom of the pocket is now secured in place. 
  10. Pin along both sides. Edgestitch both sides in place. Press well.
  11. Find the remaining lining piece. Place the two lining pieces right sides together, matching the sides and bottom and sandwiching the pocket between the layers. Pin together along the sides and bottom; the top remains open.
  12. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch both sides and across the bottom, pivoting at the corners.
  13. Create 2" box corners. If you are new to this technique, check out our tutorial: How To Box Corners.
  14. Press down the top raw edge of the lining bag ½" all around. 
  15. Set the lining aside

Prepare the ruffle and flap

  1. Find the 5" x 44" ruffle strip.
  2. Fold the strip in half, right sides together, so it is now 2½" x 44". 
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch one 2½" end. Trim the seam and clip the corner.
  4. Turn right side out. Press the finished end and press the strip itself so it is nice and flat. 
  5. Ruffle or finger-pleat the strip to a 21" length. 
    NOTE: You want a soft ruffle or a loose pleat for this project. If you are new to gathering techniques, check out our tutorial. We also a handy tutorial on knife pleating; in this case, the bottom edge of the pleat is left free to create the ruffle along the edge. Some people like make this type of pleat by hand (finger pleating), simply folding, ironing and pinning - "eyeballing" the depth of each fan fold.  
  6. Find the interfaced flap piece. Place this piece right side up on your work surface. Pin the finished ruffle to the flap, placing the finished end of the ruffle ½" in from the bottom right corner of the flap, then continuing across the bottom and up the left side. The left raw end of the ruffle strip and the top raw edge of the flap should align. (This end will be captured in the final seam with the lining.)
  7. Machine or hand baste the ruffle in place. We used pins to hold our ruffle in place, but for new sewers, we recommend the extra step of basting.
  8. Place the remaining flap piece right sides together with the interfaced piece, sandwiching the ruffle in between the layers. Pin in place along both sides and across the bottom. Leave the top open for turning. 
  9. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch in place along both sides and across the bottom.
  10. Trim the seam and clip the corners.
  11. Turn the flap right side out. Press the flap flat and carefully press the ruffle.

Prepare the straps

NOTE: For our sample, we cut our short strap much shorter than indicated below, which you may notice in the pretty pictures. Once complete, we felt a longer strap would provide more flexibility to adjust from short to long and allow for a big bow rather than just a knot. 

  1. Find the 5" x 44" and 5" x 30" strap strips. 
  2. Fold each strip in half, right sides together, so it measures 2½" in width. Pin in place along the 44" and 30" sides.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, stitch the 44" and 30" sides.
  4. Stitch across one end of each strip at a diagonal to create a nice point. The opposite end is left raw as it will be captured in the final seam with the lining. 
  5. Trim the seam and clip the corners.
  6. Turn the strips right side out and press both flat. 

Prepare the body of the bag

  1. Collect the interfaced sections of the main bag: the front, back, both sides and the bottom. Lay all the pieces right side up on your work surface in the proper position to make sure the fabric motif is running the correct direction on each piece.
  2. Pin all five pieces right sides together in order, including setting-in the bottom panel. 
    NOTE: For this bottom panel, it's like setting a lid upside down into a box. Match all the corners of the bottom panel to the corners of the bag body. Pin in place all around, adjusting as necessary and using plenty of pins to insure the panel sits in the bag evenly and square.
  3. Using a ½" seam allowance, first stitch all the vertical side seams. Start each of the four side seams at the TOP edge and stitch down, stopping and locking your seam ½" from the bottom edge. Go slowly, making sure your fabric stays smooth and even. If possible, a Walking foot is a good choice for these seams.
  4. Still using a ½" seam allowance, sew the bottom panel to the body of the bag. Start and stop at each corner (where your bottom panel seam should intersect with the side seam), back-tacking for security.
  5. Turn the bag right side out and press lightly. 

Finally assembly

  1. Collect all the finished elements: main bag, lining bag, flap and straps.
  2. Pin the flap in place on the main bag, right sides together. The flap is positioned against the panel you want to be the back of the bag body (your choice at this point - the back of of the lining bag is the side with the pocket, but for the exterior, you choose). Align the raw edges of the flap and the bag body, and center the flap side to side within the panel.
  3. Find the two straps.
  4. Pin one to each side of the bag body. Each strap should be positioned so the raw edges of the strap and the raw edges of the bag body are aligned and the strap is centered side to side within each side panel. We placed the long strap to the left of the flap and the short strap to the right. 
  5. Machine baste the flap and both straps in place, staying within the seam allowance.
  6. Pull up the flap and the straps; this will cause the basting seam allowance to fold to the inside of the case. Continue this "natural tendency" and press down the top raw edge of the bag ½" all around. Remember, this is the top ½" that is fabric only, so you are pressing the raw edge down over the fleece.
  7. With the body of the bag right side out and the lining wrong side out, slide the lining inside the bag - so the two pieces are now nested and wrong sides together. The top raw edge of exterior and the lining should both have already been pressed under ½", creating a clean, folded edge all around the top of both bags.
  8. Align all the seams and make sure the top folded edges are flush, then pin in place all around. 
  9. Pull up the flap and straps to keep them out of the way, and edgestitch around the entire bag through all the layers. This holds the lining down in position and secures the flap and straps. Again, a Walking foot will help keep all your layers stable while you stitch. 

     

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever

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Comments (4)

MarciaFlorida said:
MarciaFlorida's picture

I like the concept of a tote that works when browsing the racks and aisles while shopping.

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