by Tricia Patterson, Managing Editor, Quiltmaker, McCall’s Quilting and Quick Quilts
During the time we lived in London I noticed there was a lot more interest in the needle arts, like embroidery and knitting, compared to America. I discovered a lot of exhibits, advertisements for university coursework and many thriving special interest groups in the U.K, all dedicated to needle art. I decided more rain, fog and cooler temperatures must make for lots of pleasant couch time watching old movies, drinking a cuppa tea and working with wonderful British wool fibers. And, all these things perked up my interest in knitting while we were there.
One day, I picked up this wild hair to locate a vintage knitting bag, one of those made of fabric with D-shaped handles that were really popular in the 70’s. There was a major resurgence of items popular in the 1960’s and 1970’s in the markets around London; so I started a search for one. I was surprised after a couple of months that I still had not found the vintage knitting bag I was looking for; then in dawned on me that I could just make a quilted one. One idea led to another, and I soon had a whole collection.
I’ve made bags in a variety of sizes, from 12”x 15” small project carry bags to large 18”x 24” bags to hold all the yarn for a project. These bags are perfect for using up scraps from other projects, just anything found in a stash of fabric, ribbons, buttons, etc. I’ve made bags with denim, large patches, small patches and also used leftover blocks from other projects, crazy pieced and embellished. As you can see, I love adding a large button, if only for decoration. Here are a few close-up photos of my quilted bags.
These quilted bags are easy and quick to make. Here are the directions I’ve used for mine.
- Purchase a set of D-shaped handles (or make them if you are handy with wood cutting). You may have noticed that I have painted mine with some fun color. Buy fabric for the quilt top, batting, backing and bag lining. I generally use a muslin or less expensive fabric for the backing because it won’t show in the finished bag. A wild novelty print for the lining adds a bit of surprise inside.
- Determine the finished size of your bag. Add 6″ to the finished size and make a quilt top of any design and fabric combination. Sew together the patches and incorporate lace or ribbons in the seams if desired. Quilt the top, batting and backing layers together. Then, trim all sides of the quilted fabric so they are even all around. You don’t need to bind the edges as you would to finish the quilt. Add more embellishments if you wish.
- Next, cut out the lining fabric, the same size as the finished quilt top. I generally add several pockets to the lining, so I have a certain spot for my phone, keys, wallet and some sewing or knitting tools, (sunscreen and sunglasses, too). Think about how you will use your bag, and customize pockets to meet your needs!
- Fold the quilt top in half, right sides together and join the side edges using a 5/8” seam allowance. If desired, double stitch the seam and zigzag stitch the edges or finish them with a Serger machine to secure them.
- From the inside, fold the corner edges together to form a triangle and stitch across it as shown in the photograph to shape the bag bottom. Repeat for the lining.
- Place the lining inside the quilt top, right sides together. Leave an opening on one of the short ends (bag top), big enough to turn the piece right side out. Turn right side out and stitch the opening closed by hand or machine.If using D-shaped handles, pull the top edges of the bag quilt and lining through the handles. Otherwise, wrap the layers around the handles. Leaving at least 1” between the handle and stitching, stitch through all the layers to hold the handles in place.
Before you know it, like me, you’ll think of a reason to sew a bag for every occasion, to take to the beach, to travel to games, for your take-along projects, for quick grocery stops or simply an all-occasion tote bag. Just grab those scraps from your sewing room and…
Quilt A Bag!