Menu bar pages

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Sling Bag Pattern Creation

After making four sling bags using the Park Sling Backpack by Sew Sweetness, I was ready for a different bag.  I had size, shape and features in mind, but could not find a suitable pattern.  I have made many bags without a pattern using simple construction designs and techniques, but never feature-intensive bags, like backpacks.  Watching a couple of YouTube video tutorials gave me the confidence to try making a pattern I could use, and perhaps, re-use.    

Here is what I had in mind:
  • 8 inches wide by 12 inches tall, 3-inch gusset with a long zipper across the top for easy access to the inside
  • Sling bag style with a single strap extending from the top of the bag
  • D-rings on both lower corners so the strap could be used over either arm
  • Lining that fits snugly inside without drooping  
Most of these requirements are pretty straight forward.  Saggy lining is a sticking point for me, however.  I hate rummaging around in a bag that is full of lining.  I know there are many tips and tricks for managing lining.  I decided to try something a little different.... french seams.  

If you are interested in how I created a sling bag with french seams, read on.  If not, take a peek at the pictures and if you like the bag you see, visit my Urban Stitcher® Etsy shop to see the Cork Leaves Sling Bag.  It was made using the pattern created here.    

Let's Get Started!

Recognizing that the trial bag would most likely be unusable, I selected fabric odds and ends from my stash.  The hardware could be recovered.  The only real loss would be zipper yardage.  As expected, trial and error revealed several flaws in my logic.  In each case, I corrected my pattern instructions and forged ahead with the prototype. All the warts are visible in these pictures!

My notes and diagrams started on a piece of freezer paper.  After many corrections and updates, the notes were transferred to a notebook.

Paper bag recycled into pattern pieces.  
Note:  I used foam stabilizer for the front, back and side panels.  To eliminate bulk, I cut the stabilizer about 5/8" from all edges.

 To create the french seams, I first sewed the lining pieces to the main fabric pieces, right sides together, leaving a small opening to turn right side out. I used a 1/4" seam allowance.  
For the prototype, I cut the side panel section as one piece using the main fabric.  I sewed it into a tube and turned right side out.  I pressed the seam down the middle of the tube to eliminate bulk at the edges where the side panel would be sewn to the front and back pieces.  
I used the same method to create the zipper unit.  The zipper panels were stitched directly on top of the zipper tape.  It was very easy.  Note the second line of top stitching on each side of the zipper.  The reason will be shown later. 

Front, back and gusset ready for assembly.  Because there are no raw edge, unfinished strap ends and pocket edges cannot be buried.  The strap tabs were sewn to the outside far enough from the edge that they would not interfere with the french seam.  

Front panel clipped to back panel and ready for stitching.  Careful measuring and planning is necessary.  No snipping corners to ease the gusset!  

From the lining side you can see where I stitched the strap tabs in place.  This is an oops that had to be noted for future bags.  The straps need to be stitched to the exterior fabric before sewing it to the lining.  Seems obvious, right?

Tight and tidy lining with french seams!  No raw edges!  No bias binding!  The french seam is about 1/4".  It is not as wide as if I had encased the raw edges with bias binding.  I think it was easier than applying bias binding, and the seams may be sturdier.   

This closeup shows the back side of the zipper.  The extra line of stitches on the zipper secures the edge of the zipper to the panel giving it a finished look.  Easier than hand finishing the lining around the zipper and there is absolutely no baggy lining around the zipper!

 I used bias binding for the strap and strap pocket.  Because of the zipper, I think it lays flatter than sewing right sides together and turning.  Looking closely you can see another oops.....the grommet for earbud cable is installed backwards.  Oh well.  

Here is a picture of the Cork Leaves Sling Bag currently available in my Etsy shop.  It was helpful working through the first bag and having the pattern pieces.  I have to admit, however, that I made several other changes that necessitated a lot of fitting and basting.  I may make a couple more and hopefully have a solid pattern to show for it... just in time to be tired of this bag and ready to move on!  

Thank you for visiting!  I hope you will watch for my next post.  In the meantime, follow Urban Stitcher® on Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, and Twitter!