I’m a self taught sewer and just discovering Craftsy. I love sewing and making things especially if they are useful. Whilst I do make my own clothes occasionally, my technical skills leave a lot to be desired. I can get frustrated quickly so fiddly stuff is not for me.
Kristen is the founder of Sewmamasew.com an online fabric, sewing blog and forum. She is a great believer that sewing should be for pleasure and is FUN. The best way to make it fun and not scary or intimidating is to practise with small projects such as the Drawstring Bag or the Bucket Bag. Kristen thinks these bags are the staples for bags, with lots of practical uses for people of all ages. She believes making the bags will give you the confidence to take on more challenging projects.
The free classes comes with four downloadable bag patterns.
Class 1: Reversible Tote and Zipper Pouch
Lesson 1 – Introduction
Kristen explains the project that she is going to make and then goes through the materials and equipment that are required. The reversible tote is fully lined and has an interior pocket, as well of course as being reversible. The zipper pouch with a top zipper, can be adjusted depending on the zipper length. Kristen goes through the materials and equipment that are required.
Lesson 2 – Reversible Tote Exterior
The materials are cut out first. Bags tend to use a ½” seam allowance. Kristen first sews the exterior side top and bottom pieces together, presses the seams open then sews the resulting two side pieces together. Once the seams are pressed open Kristen shows us how to box the bottom of the bag.
The handles are next. The technique is easy and makes study handles. Sewers need to be able to sew in straight lines on the handle – wiggly sewing will be noticed! If you struggle with this, our Tips and Tricks post might help. The handles are then attached.
Lesson 3 – Reversible Tote Lining
In this lesson you learn how to make the interior pocket construct the bag lining and finally sew the lining to the exterior of the bag. Kristen makes sewing a perfect pocket easy, it is a little different from what I expected. She also presses the pocket before turning it out. When you turn the pocket out you use the chopstick to make sure the corners are completely out. It is then pressed again. The pocket is then placed on the right side of one of the lining pieces, making sure the place where you turned out the pocket is on the side or bottom seam of the pocket so that it is sewn over.
The lining pieces are sewn together, then the bottom corners are bagged exactly the same as the exterior. Once the seams are pressed open, Kristen shows how the interior is attached to the exterior. It’s really quite easy when you know how! The top seam is then pressed and top stitched.
Lesson 4 – Zipper Pouch Front
The materials are cut out and the interfacing fused to the wrong side of the external fabric.
Kristen shows us the glue stick technique to insert the zipper. The glue stick is used put a line of glue on the exterior bottom piece, helping to hold the zipper on to the fabric. A line of glue is put on top of the zipper then the lining bottom fabric pressed on to the glue. The “sandwich” is then sewn and pressed open to the right side. Sounds complex – not really when you see it demonstrated by Kristen. I recommend watching the video a couple of times before you attempt it. This is repeated for the top pieces. Once they have been pressed top stitch the fabric on each side of the zipper. Viola a zipper has been inserted very neatly.
The front is then trued up.
Lesson 5 – Zipper Pouch Strap and Body
In this lesson the strap is sewn to the body and the body completed.
The strap is constructed the same way as the tote handle, its only a lot shorter. The strap is folded in half and attached to the top front above the zipper.
The next part is probably one of the trickier parts of the pouch construction. Kristen recommends making a video note or highlighting this part. She then goes through the steps on how to assemble the bag. The back lining is placed right side up, the front is placed on top right side facing up (zipper half undone) and finally the exterior back is place on the top right side facing down (towards the front side). The exterior pieces should be right sided facing each other. The top edge is pinned then sewn.
The exterior pieces are sewn together at the bottom edge. The bottom edge of the two linings are then sewn with a small opening left to turn the pouch. Kristen then makes the seam allowance ion the side seams. This is to ensure that she does not sew over the metal parts of the zipper. The strap is tucked in side and the side seams sewn.
The corners are trimmed and the pouch is then turned out through the lining. Then turn the bag through the zipper to make it right side out. Push the corners out using the chopstick if necessary. Once the gap in the lining is sewn up the pouch is finished.
Class 2: Drawstring Bag and Bucket Bag
Lesson 1 – Introduction
Kristen explains the project that she is going to make and then goes through the materials and equipment that are required.
Lesson 2 – Drawstring Bag Part 1
Cut out your material. Kristen explains how then moves on to options to embellish the centre panel of your drawstring bag. Sewing the exterior of the bag is next. The course materials explain how to back stitch embroider with Kristen explaining how to trace the letters on the fabric.
Measuring out where the drawstring emerges from the bag sides, the sides and bottom of the bag exterior are sewn next, leaving a gap for the drawstring. The interior lining is sewn together. Kristen explains how to press the seams.
Lesson 3 – Drawstring Bag Part 2
After joining the interior and exterior together, turning out and finishing the top, Kristen moves on to the drawstring placement. She also tells us tips on how to make the drawstring and threading them through the bag.
As you gain more experience there are lots of options you could make to individualise the bag.
Lesson 4 – Bucket Bag Part 1
Kristen goes through material, fleece and interfacing selection as well as how to make the bottom circle template. Fusing the fleece and interfacing to the fabric is demonstrated. The body of the bag could be quilted or embroidered. The outside pocket is then positioned and you need to decide how many pockets or channels you want to have. For example are you going to put books, knitting needle or colouring pens into the pockets as that will decide how width of the pockets. Once the pockets are sewn, the side seam is sewn and pressed open.
The bit I find hard is next; attaching the circular bottom to the exterior body of the bagbag. Kristen pins the bottom on to the sides prior to sewing. The interior lining body is sewn up then the interior bottom is attached to the interior body.
Lesson 5 – Bucket Bag Part 2
Kristen show you how to make the handle attach it to the exterior body and finally put in the interior lining. The fusible fleece is attached to the bag handle fabric and the handle is sewn. Kristen likes to make multiple rows of stitching on the handle to give the handle some rigidity. The handle is attached to the exterior body, prior to the interior lining being added. Lastly the top of the bag is top stitched.
The structure of the bag can be changed by adding different interfacing or fleece. The height and diameter can be changed so you can get the different sized bags. Just remember to multiple the diameter by 3.14 to get the length of the circumference or the length of the body. Its also tempting to add interior pockets as well.
Kristen’s explanations are clear and demonstrated well, with clear video.
Having the videos means that you can rewind and watch the bits that you’re not clear on. I would definitely watch the video all the way through before you attempt the class if you are a beginner.
Explanation and tips are freely given. Using the tips will make your projects more professional looking. I liked how she explained how to press open the bottom seams on the bags.
The projects are suitable for the beginners. More experienced sewers will be able to add lots of embellishments to individualise the bags.
You need to be able to sew a straight top stitch.
Most of the seams are sewn with a ½” seam allowance, though there are a few at a ¼”. Make sure you check which one are which. Mostly all bag seams are ½”, which differ from the standard 5/8″.
You need to make you cut and sew you bag accurately otherwise your exteriors and linings will be different sizes. When you attach them together it will be difficult.
Attaching the circular bottom on to the body of the bucket bag is quite tricky for a new sewer, but can be done if taken slowly and with patience.
Both classes are good, especially since they are free.
Kristen walks you through each step. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to do a lined bag, especially with handles. However now that I’ve seen Kristen explain it I feel I can do it.
For a more experienced sewer the projects are fast easy and fun. It would be so easy to add all sorts of embellishments to individualise each project.
I would recommend, for a beginner sewer to start with Bag-Making Basics: Drawstring Bag & Bucket Bag and then follow up with Bag-Making Basics: Reversible Tote & Zipper Pouch. That way you will tackle the each step with slowly increasing difficulty, gaining confidence as you do – you won’t feel overwhelmed.
I can see myself making a few bags as they are so useful. First off a drawstring bag for my phone charger and one for my laptop charger. A pouch for pens and a few reversible totes as presents. The list is growing If only I could find more time!