Thursday, May 31, 2007

Promises to keep, or, Drawstring Bags Tutorial

Awhile ago (oh my, has it already been more than a month? time flies when you are having fun!) Tracey over at ozcountryquilting mum asked me how I constructed these little drawstring bags. I said I would put another one together and take some photos and post them. Well, I've finally gotten around to doing it! But, I did have a bit of a quandry -- I made the bags from a pattern I found in a Quilts and More magazine. Copyrighted. Not able to publish all of the info to my blog. Crap. (btw -- if anyone is interested in copyright issues and how they can impact creativity and the sharing and creation of new ideas I HIGHLY recommend this book. Surprisingly readable and available for a free download. And yes, I am a geek like that). So, what's a girl to do? Well -- while the exact measurements are copyrighted material -- the general methods for putting together a round bottomed drawstring bag can't really be. I mean, really, they've been around for ages and ages -- soooo -- do some math, make some adjustments -- and come up with a tutorial to create one of your own in any size you please! Works for me!

Materials required: Depends on the size of your bag really. Two fabrics, enough of each to get the size rectangles and circles you need. For the measurements given here -- two pieces of fabric 14" x wof. 2 yards of cording. Pretty thin stuff -- think I'm using 5/8" cotton stuff. General sewing supplies.

All seams are .25" unless otherwise noted.

1. Determine the finished size of the bottom you want. This can be any size circle really. For this project, I chose an 8" finished circle. Add .5" to the finished size. Cut one circle this size (8.5" here) from each of your two fabrics. (and yes, I did partially choose this size because it's the largest one my nifty new circle rotary cutter can make)
2. Here's where the math comes in. You need to determine the size rectangles you need to cut to make the tube that will be the walls and body of the bag. To do this, you will need to calculate the circumference of the unfinished circle you have just cut. The formula for determining the circumference of a circle is:

C = d * pi (or 3.14159 -- sorry -- don't know how to get the nifty pi sign into blogger)

So for my 8.5" unfinished circle: C = 8.5 * 3.14159 = 26.7"

Take this number and divide by 2. (13.35" in this case)

Round this number down to the nearest .5 inch. (for my sample I did NOT do this -- I rounded down to the nearest .25 inch. It worked, but I had to take some tucks when I was sewing the bottom to the lining. So, do as I say, not as I did). Add .5 inch to that number for seam allowances. (or, well, just round up to the nearest .5 inch and that is the cut width of your rectangle -- duh!) So -- for this project, the number is 13.5" for the width of your bag body pieces.

There -- maths all done!

3. Determine the height of your bag. This one is pretty arbitrary and really depends on what you want to fit into the bag. For this particular project, I needed something that would hold wooden train pieces that dd is going to be getting for her birthday (yes, the need for this bag is entirely practical as I don't really want to trip all over them). I decided to cut the pieces at 12" knowing that .5 of that would be taken up in seam allowances and another 1.75 would be taken in the drawstring portion. The other bags are smaller -- smaller base, shorter length, etc.

4. Cut 2 rectangles from EACH fabric the size you need. (in my case -- 13.5" wide by 12" high)

5. Pin the 2 outer bag rectangles rst and mark a line 1" from the top, and 1" below that. Sew the seams on both sides, leaving openings between the two marks, backstitching where you have to break the sewing line. Press the seams open. (and yes, yes, yes -- that is actually my lining fabric -- again, mistakes may have been made, not saying they actually WERE mind you, but do as I say, not as I do)

6. Sew the short sides of the lining rectangles rst, leaving a 3" or so opening for turning the bag. Press the seams open.

7. Take one of your circles and fold in half rst and finger press along the diameter. (this step is not strictly necessary -- but it makes lining up the circle with the tube much easier!)

8. Line up the fold marks with the seams on the bottom of the bag body tube and pin in place. Continue pinning around the circle, lining the edges of the circle with the edges of the tube. Pins should be placed so that the circle is on the bottom when you sew.

9. Using a .25" seam allowance sew the circle to the tube, removing pins and sliding bulk as necessary. Repeat steps 7-9 for the outer bag. Turn outer bag right side out.

10. Place outerbag inside lining bag rst. Matching raw edges and seams, pin together and sew using a .25" seam allowance. Turn the bag through the opening in the lining (you did remember to leave an opening for turning didn't you? I'm only asking because the first time I made one of these I might have forgotten that step for one of them...just maybe mind you). Press the seam at the bag opening.

11. Topstich .75" from the opening of the bag. Topstich another line 1" below the first. (now, again, this assumes you want a .75" 'ruffle' at the top of your bag. These are the measurements I used -- and they work well for a smaller bag -- the larger bag I made here, I might actually choose a larger ruffle -- but that also means you will have to adjust where you leave your openings for your casings in step 5)

12. Slipstitch lining opening closed. (or, if you're like me and figure oh well, it's a lining -- pull the lining partially out and use the machine to quickly run some stitches over it to close it up)

13. Cut your cording into 2 yard long pieces. Using a bodkin (or the ever useful safety pin) thread one of the pieces of cording through the casing you created in step 11. The cording should enter and exit in the same hole. Tie knots at the end of the cording (or be creative and decorative) to secure and keep from fraying. Repeat for the other side.

14. You're done. There is no step 14 -- or, maybe, step back and marvel at the adorable little round bottomed drawstring bag you have created secure in the knowledge you can create one in any size you desire in approximately the time it takes a toddler to take a nap. Yeah, make that one step 14.

Hope you enjoyed my little tutorial -- if you make a bag using these instructions, please let me know. I'd love to see a photo of successes and/or hear about any problems I haven't thought about.


Fiona said...

Thanks for the instructions - and for reminding me of the mathematical formula - could come in useful for other projects as up to now I have been using the highly technical (and very unreliable) 'run a piece of string round the edge of the circle' method to work out circumference. I hasten to add that I am not innumerate, it's just a long time since I did my maths 'o-level' :-)

Tanya said...

You have my head spinning! I am an anti-math person but MAYBE I'll be able to figure it out!

Very pretty!

Kim said...

Sometimes that copyright stuff drives me nuts. Quilting and sewing are such traditional occupations that very few things are new and unique! I'll have to bookmark your tutorial--the bag looks great! Thanks!

KCQuilter said...

Nice tutorial! I love to make drawstring bags, too. They are so handy for so many things.

Happy Valley Quilter said...

Very cute bag! I'll have to give it a try later this summer.

I've been "away" for a bit, so it's been nice catchiing up on your blog. Looks like you had a successful shop hop!

Diana said...

Great tutorial! Thanks for the instructions. These look really fun to make!

Valerie said...

thanks for the tuto...
I'm considering making some like this as treat bags for my daughter's birthday this summer... which means 10 little bags, so we'll see !

Tracey @ozcountryquiltingmum said...

Thank you darling girl, but I am feeling faint me, help me up..I've seen something terrible...what was it you was Pi!!!!!Please tell me this have-a-go-and-see-how-close-you-can-get-to-right quilter didn't see Pi!!! I will henceforth just make them the exact size you did and with trauma counselling and lots of love and support be able to erase the vision of Pi from my memory. Ta Tracey