Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TUTORIAL: The Traveler Bag

I designed this bag to be as simple to make as a bag this size can be, don't be fooled by the word "simple", if you have no experience sewing, this might be too large of a task for you, but hey, you can always try! :)
This bag is really big! Great for packing your goods for a weekend getaway or even longer.
First things first, I want to thank Mom for her help in making this bag, we made this at my Mom's {who makes bag for a living, as I am not a fan of making bags}, please excuse the not-so-pretty pictures, a lot of them where taken by my camera phone, because I was at Mom's for the weekend and wanted to get this bag started, the fabric you see in this bag are designed by me and can  be purchased here.


 Things you need:
The Traveler Bag Kit, can be purchased here.
1yd of coordinating fabric for liner. 
1yd of fusible felt batting
{You can replace the last 2 items with Pre-Quilted fabric, the instructions mention the above so simply replace the idea with the fabric}
One 30" zipper
Two Packs of coordinating bias tape, Extra Wide, Double Fold.
1/2 yd of fabric for optional pocket inside. You can simply cut a rectangle any size you want and create the pocket.
1yd of fabric plus two 20" zippers and add outer pockets under the straps.
2yds of one and a half inch thick webbing, D Rings and clasps. For additional cross body strap {as shown}

Cut all the pieces of the kit. The kit has cutting lines for each piece. Put the "Top of Bag, Zipper Holding" pieces plus the straps aside, and utilizing each additional piece as a pattern, cut lining and fusible fleece.
The above is an example. As you see, there is a piece in the "main fabric", under it, you see the lining fabric, then the batting under that.

Fusible Fleece Tips: On some pieces, such as "Upper Sides", "Lower Sides", and "Top Pieces" for the zipper, we cut the fusible fleece about one half inch smaller on some of the edges, this will help prevent a lot of material bulking and will make things easier for you to sew with your home-machine.

For my bag, we serged most edges, this helped keep the material together, you do not have to do this but you will notice it in most the pictures. If you would like, totally optional, you can sew around each piece with the lining, you can pin it, or simply hold it tight when sewing.
Grab the straps, iron on the fusible fleece to them. Iron them in half, to create a mark down the middle as shown above.
Using the original marking as the center marking, you will once again, fold the strap inwards, ironing it at the one-quarte of the strap point {you are basically folding the edge towards the center and ironing it, to create another mark and help it stay put}
Repeat in the opposite edge. You can wait a few seconds in between, it does get hot!
Once you mark those edges, iron the folded piece flat, repeat on the second strap.
Sew over, each edge to secure. Repeat on both straps. Grab your Large piece of the kit.
The kit has markings for where to place the straps, pin them on the larger piece {Lower Sides one and two}. Sew the straps onto the piece, you can {and should} double up on the seams.
 Grab the "Upper Side Pieces one and two", right sides facing each other, sew the edges together. {Upper and Lower Sides, one and two}. Cover the raw edges inside with bias tape. {In this image, you see a polka dotted trim, I accidentally left the bias tape back at Mom's and was unable to find bias tape close by so I had to make my own} 
 About one inch away from the top-edge, run a seam over the handle, to re-enforce it. Set this assembled pieces aside.
 Grab your zipper, you will be working with it. This is the zipper I purchased for the bag.
Grab your Top Pieces and zipper. To sew the zipper, you will place the zipper right side facing right side of the first piece, meet edges, and sew. {for best results, you will need to open and close the zipper as you go, to get it out of your foot's way}
Pinning always helps keeping the zipper in place.
Once the first side of the zipper is sewn, pin the next top piece and zipper together, and sew the same way you did the first.

This is what your top piece should look like after you are done sewing the zipper. 
OK, to prevent the material from getting in the way of the zipper when you open and close it, you will need to scoot some of the material over closer to the edge of the zipper, fold it flat, and top stitch it.

This is what it will look like, you are done with the zipper.
 If you are adding the additional crossover strap, this is where you would add the webbing. 
Grab your "Side Pieces" one and two, sew one over each of the shorter edges of the completed top piece. Right sides facing each other.
Grab your lining pieces for the sides, place them over the Upper piece, the right side of the side piece lining should be facing the wrong side of the upper pieces. 
Sew the pieces together, what you are looking at is the back side of the side piece lining, over the back side of the top piece with the zipper, which is right sides facing over the side pieces.
Fold side pieces over to meet, wrong sides together. Above shows what it looks like from inside.
This is what it should look like from outside, minus the webbing and D-ring if you are skipping those.
Time to assemble the bag! Ready? Remember this: Pins are your BFF's right now, grab all if yours!!
Pin what is now a Wrap-Around-Piece {Top and side pieces assembled} to what is now the "Sides-and-Bottom-Pieces" {Upper,lower and straps sewn together}. Make sure your pieces are all centered, if need be, you can start your seams along the center of the top piece, sew all the way to the bottom, then go back and continue to the opposite side, starting from the center again. Sew tip: sew together the pieces all along before you finish up the bottom area, this will help it stay very square.
 This is what your work in progress should look like.
On this image, I am showing how the seam will go along the side of the bag, and I stopped just before the bottom edge. Before the bottom edge, I will sew the next side of the bag, leaving this bottom edge for last.
 Once you are done sewing both sides, cut a small slit where the fabric should fold for the bottom to help it shape up. Then sew both sides of the bottom. Once the bag is put together, trim or serge all the raw edges a bit.
 Cover all raw edges with the bias tape. Turn the bag outside in.

Voila! You are done! Enjoy your bag!
PS. I you would like to order the PDF Pattern to make your own bag with other fabrics, it can be purchased here.

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