Step by Step: Sewing Machine Basics | Making a simple bag

Sharena, the Creative Seamstress, talks us step-by-step through making a simple shopping bag. Covering sewing machine basic tips along the way, beginners should have no problem making this handy little shopper!

“Today I’m going to show you how to make a quick and easy shopping bag. These can be made from leftover or sample fabrics, look great and are simple to make!”

Creative Seamstress basic bag

For this, you’ll need your sewing machine, scissors and some fabric. I have chosen 4 rectangular fabric sample pieces, and some leftover herringbone tape (fig. 2). I’ll be using a basic stitch – No. 2 (fig. 1) to start.”

Creative Seamstress basic bag

Take the first two pieces of fabric, and line up right sides together (fig. 3). Look for the grain line to match correctly. Do the same again with the next two pieces (fig. 4).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Pin around the edges if needed. This depends on the material – whether it sticks or slides. Pin all the sides and take it to the machine (fig. 5). On the first set of fabric, stitch the right-hand side length, starting from the top right. Stitch 5/8″ from the edge (fig. 6).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Stitch, then backstitch to secure (fig. 7). Sew all the way to the end (bottom right), removing pins as you go. Pull your needle back up, lift up the foot and take the fabric out. Use the thread cutter on your machine to cut the thread, or use a pair of scissors (fig. 8).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Repeat the stitching along the right-hand side of your second set of fabric (fig. 9). Open both pieces up, as shown (fig. 10).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Before attaching your pieces together, press them first. Iron the seam open – this helps it to lie better when you stitch both pieces together (fig. 11). Put right sides together, matching up the seams (fig. 12).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Pin the pieces together (fig. 13). Stitch 5/8″ from the edge as before, along the right, bottom and left edges – leave the top edge (fig. 14).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

To hem, use pinking shears. Cut the corners off, so when it’s turned around (inside-out), the corners will be sharp (fig. 15). Cut around the edges, making sure you don’t cut the thread. Don’t worry about it being perfectly straight – this will be on the inside of your bag (fig. 16).

TIP: When hemming, you can do a zig-zag stitch, or just leave it – it depends on the material and how it might fray. You can use pinking shears to reduce the fraying.

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Across the top, use your pinking shears to hem (fig. 17), and fold over approximately an inch (fig. 18).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

If you have a set square, use this to check your pattern is squared off correctly (fig. 19). Pin the folded-over top, ready to position and stitch the handles (fig. 20).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Each side of your bag is made up of two rectangles, so if you place your handle strap in the middle of each, it will be even (fig. 21). Position your first herringbone length so each end sits within the centre edge of your rectangles. Make sure there is some length left for trimming down with your pinking shears (fig. 22).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Turn your bag over and repeat the process. Match up the position of the straps (fig. 23) and pin your second strap in place (fig. 23 & 24).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Select a zig-zag stitch on your sewing machine (fig. 25). This is to secure the top edge and straps of your bag. Start with a few stitches, backstitch to secure, then sew the full length of the top section, ensuring the ends of the straps are not too close to the zig-zag stitch (fig. 26).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

Tidy up your strap ends, but don’t trim close to the stitching in case of fraying (fig. 27). Turn the bag inside-out and poke out the corners (fig. 28).

Creative Seamstress How To make a bag basics

….and there you have a funky, fun and easy shopping bag!

Need more inspiration? Want to share your creations?

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