After making two girl bags using someone else's pattern, I decided to come up with my own pattern.
Mostly, I was looking for a cute way to close the bag. Little girls are always jumping around and a bag that does not close is an invitation for them to spread its contents all over the floor every five minutes.
So I spent a couple of days testing sizes and closing flaps and this is what I came up with.
This time, I also made an effort to document the steps it took me to get to the finished product, in order to provide you with a simple (but long, bear with me) tutorial. So, if you want to make a similar bag, download the pattern here.
You with need to cut six bag pieces, two from the outside fabric, two from the lining and two from batting. If your exterior fabric has a pattern, try to cut both pieces in a way that the pattern matches on both sides once you sew the front to the back.
For the flap you will need to cut three pieces, one from batting and two from your exterior fabric. If you decide to add an inside pocket (marked as optional on the pattern), cut two pieces, one from the outside fabric and one from lining. If you're very picky, you will also try to cut the flap pieces in a way that allows you to match the pattern of the fabric once the flap is attached to the bag.
Step one: pocket
If you do not want to add a pocket, skip this step and go directly to step 2. If you decided to make a pocket, that is the first thing you will have to sew. Pin fabrics right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving an opening at the bottom.
Trim excess fabric, clip corners and turn inside out through the bottom opening.
Pin the pocket to one of your lining pieces, making sure it is centered.
Sew around the sides and the bottom, taking care to close the initial opening.
Step two: body of the bag
Start by pinning the two lining pieces right sides together. Sew around the sides and part of the bottom, again leaving and opening. Don't sew the top.
Next, do the same with the exterior fabric. Pin right sides together and then lay the batting on each side. Sew around the sides and bottom. This time you do not need to leave an opening. Again, don't sew the top.
Trim excess fabric and turn inside out.
Insert the outside piece into the lining, matching both fabrics right sides together and sew around the top. Pull the outside piece though the bottom opening of the lining.
Hand sew the bottom opening shut and tuck lining back inside the bag.
Step three: flap
Pin flap pieces right sides together, with the batting piece pinned to what will be the outside of your flap (trust me, it does make a difference. If you pin it to the other side, the seams will show through the fabric and your flap will be sporting visible bumps).
Sew around the sides and the bottom. Turn inside out and press it flat. Fold each of the top edges and tuck it into the flap. Top stitch.
Step four: finishing the bag
Pin around the edge of the bag making sure the the lining falls strait on the inside. Pin the flap as well, making sure it is centered.
Top stitch around the top.
Step five: the strap
In all the bags I made, this has always been the most difficult step. With first one, I sewed the fabrics right sides together and then turned the strap inside out. But since I'm making the bags child-size, the strap is not wide enough to making the turning inside out an easy task. On the second one (this one), I discarded the two initial straps and, in despair, ended up using a matching ribbon. This time I used a different approach - a bias tape maker:
The end result? Not perfect, but not too bad either.
In any case, sew the strap the way you feel most confident about. Let me know if you have any good suggestions, since I will be testing the pattern again as soon as I can find the time. Attach the strap to the sides of the bag.
Step six: the snap
In order to keep the flap closed, sew or attach a snap in place.
At this point, you will have a finished bag. See how the fabric pattern in the flap almost matches the rest of the bag? To be honest, I never thought I could pull this through until the very end...
If you're like me, however, you will take it one step forward and add some sort of embellishment.
I added yo-yos and buttons in front of the flap and on each side (this can be useful if the seams attaching the strap are not very pretty and you need to hide them out).
This is my first pattern and I do have some improvements I want to test, but overall I'm happy with the results. I hope you enjoy it as well.
Now let's see if I can make some matching accessories to go with the bag...
And in case you missed the link to download the pattern in the middle of all the text above, you can find it here.