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Fabric Shopping Bags

This is a wonderful pattern I found on Craftster and, while I've made a few modifications to how I make the bags (mostly for speed and ease and because I'm lazy and not a precision cutter), the basic premise remains the same. This is probably the most used pattern I have. Everyone LOVES these bags, and while it does take me about an hour and a half to make one (and 2/3 a yard of fabric each, for a 'standard' size bag) they are still a reasonably cheap and easy gift.

This bag was the first I made, out of some very obnoxious fabric I got cheap in a bundle at a garage sale. I figured if I messed it up I wouldn't be heartbroken. I did learn that working with two very thick fabrics makes for a strong, but very bulky bag. From that point on I looked for thinner, but still sturdy, fabrics. Most quilting cottons work pretty well. And, if the bags are for you (because otherwise it's a little 'ew', since a lot of you rubs off on them) old sheets are great.

Once I established that I could, indeed, manage to make these bags I moved on and made some out of some less obnoxious fabric. But it was still pretty thick, and I was noticing a problem with getting my edges lined up. If I accidentally got one of the pieces of fabric flipped around, it was hard to match up my side seams and handles. And clipping those corners was so time-consuming. If only they made something that would cut notches in fabric... That would make it so much easier to cut around the handles. I don't know, something like a little v-notched paper punch like they have for scrapbooking... I mean, how hard would it be to invent that... (you all see where I'm going with this, I'm sure) ...wait a minute... *smacks self in head* Oh, I don't know, something like pinking shears?

With that BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious), making bags got a lot faster and less annoying. I also decided to not cut the lining fabric out exactly to pattern - I cut a good 1-2 inches around the outside of the pattern, which left me with a lot of wiggle room to line up the pieces.

After I sewed around the top edges, I pinked around the handles. Once I'd turned the bags right-side out, I used a rotary cutter and mat to even up the sides and bottom before sewing them. I also dispensed with the French Feld at the bottom and just serged the bottom along the inside (it was the first used of my serger, and I admit I did it partly to justify buying it. Don't worry, since then it's been used for all sorts of things!).

Armed with my new, improved method, I made a batch of bags.

Which everyone loved, so I made another!

Around this time I decided to experiment with a square-necked bag. And while there is nothing wrong with it, changing the shape of it did not make it any easier (in fact, it was actually a little more fiddly) so after a set of cow-print square-necked bags...

...I went back to making the regular ones.

And making them...

...and making them...

I still have more cut out (plus I made some that did not get photographed - I have probably made in excess of 75 of these bags!) and even more fabric I bought to make some, but I'm taking a break from them for awhile... and despite the number I've made, I think I only have a half-dozen still in my house!


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