Monday, February 22, 2010

How to make a child-sized art bag

Last week I made a birthday gift for friend turning 6; she's a very hip 6, so I thought another bag of art supplies was in order. This time I did a messenger style bag and, since the supplies included fabric markers, I decided to include a part she could draw on.

First though, I had to cut out pieces. In the main fabric, cut:

1 strip 5" x 39.5", for the strap

1 piece 10" (or 12") x 26", for the bag

2 pieces 6.5" x 10" each, for interior pockets.

And then - pull out a freshly ironed man's shirt, in my case acquired after the collar and cuffs had gotten a bit too worn for wear. The object of your interest: the buttony stuff down the front.

Line up the 10" (or 12") end of the bag piece against three of the buttonholes - this is easier if you've already cut off the collar - and when they are centred, snip into the buttonhole band at each end to mark the place.

Then lift the buttonhole fold a little to cut neatly along the underside of it.

After that, turn to the button band and cut between the buttons such that you have a clean run of 2 buttons on three different pieces - because mistakes happen, and you know that child is going to need backup canvasses. I cut mine about 6" long.

And then you're off to the sewing machine.

Folding right side to right side, turn over the tops of the bag and pockets twice, as narrow as you can, to hide the cut edge. Then press them and stitch them down.

Also right side to right side, run a seam down the length of the strap, turn it inside out, press it, and fold the ends up inside the strap before pressing them as well.

And finally, fold each of the pocket pieces wrong side to wrong side, stitch a 1/8" seam down each of their sides, fold them back so that the right sides face the right sides, and stitch a 1/4" seam to hide that cut edge.

Here is a summary of those steps:

Pin the pockets to the top of the wrong sides of the bag piece, and at the same time pin the buttonhole strip (preferably the side with the raw edge where it was cut from the shirt) along the right side of one of them and topstitch those into place. Stitch only the top of the buttonhole band; leave the bottom open so it's easier to use.

Had I planned the sizing better on my bag, I might not have had to fold in the ends of the strap so they were out of the way of the buttonholes before I stitched them down, ahem. This is where the 12" wide bag piece comes in handy.

Now the clever part: Take those button band pieces and fold in the sides and bottom, double, on the button side of the fabric. Press, pin, and stitch down.

Especially if you do the 12" width, you can fit in quite a few nice art things.

Your last step is to tuck two of the white squares into one of the pockets with a note explaining how to use the fabric markers to customize the bag, and then button the third onto the front of the bag - buttons facing inward.

I love this bag and I really think I need one in my size, don't you?

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